31 Best Strategies to Gather Round Homeschool for Money

Gather round homeschool: Homeschooling is a brilliant way to stay connected with your son or daughter and it can have its benefits. This article will show you how to homeschool your children while keeping them social and happy to learn. For this, your child or children will need a certain amount of self motivation and it is your job to make sure they have it. You do not have to follow the curriculum and can change the education to suit your needs and likes.

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Gather round homeschool

1. Establish your home education legally. In the US, each state has different laws and regulations regarding home-school. Generally speaking, New England has the most stringent requirements. Before you jump in, research your state’s laws and give them the required notice, in addition to making a checklist of future deadlines for yourself (if applicable).

  • Since home educators have a personal investment in ensuring they understand the homeschooling laws correctly, local support groups are often the best resource to steer you to the most accurate legal information in your area.
  • Be advised that the legal requirements for home educators vary by country, state, and even sometimes by school district, so a bit of research will be required.
  • HSLDA and A to Z Home’s Cool provide useful guides to what it means to home-educate legally (see external links below).
    • You may be required to keep a portfolio of your children’s work. It is very important to do this from day one if required by your state.

2. Make sure it’s financially doable. Depending on your take of “homeschooling,” the amount of money you’ll be investing in your child can vary greatly. The job can be done with $300 or it can be done with $2,500. It all depends on what supplies you’ll be using and activities you plan on doing.

  • Activities, unfortunately, aren’t always free. In order to get the best of the world (and learn more while they’re at it), you could supplement their lessons with trips to planetariums, art exhibits, lectures, showcases, nature preserves and the like — but these things can cost money.

Gather round homeschool

3. Enroll your child in community activities. Get them involved in some kind of sport or other activity that they like; your child will need social interaction and time spent away from home. Don’t force them to do anything, but don’t let them give up too easily, either. These activities get children to socialize and also teach important life skills such as making friends and keeping commitments.

  • Homeschooling your child will not “ruin” them. As long as you make sure their emotional, social, mental, and physical needs are met, they’ll be successful adults in the future. Ask them what activities they’d like to do that span their interests and get them started on the right path.
    • Research says home-schoolers are just as involved as their publicly-schooled peers. They help the community and can make just as many social connections.

4. Inform extended family. Others in your family who care about you and your children can be helpful and give great support to your home education efforts — or they can be heartbreaking critics. Plan how you will tell them what you are planning to do, listen to their responses, and answer questions and concerns they may have. Help them understand that you are prepared and determined, and don’t let any negative attitudes get you down. They care, and over time as your children show success in their education at home, they very well may come around and be your greatest supporters.

  • In fact, why can’t they aid in helping your children learn? Surely they have areas of expertise that you don’t. Let them know you want them to be a part of your child’s life, too — how could they possibly turn it down?

5. Be confident in your teaching abilities. Realize that you care about your child’s future more than anyone else does. Therefore, you are uniquely qualified for the role of homeschooling parent. Homeschooling is a big responsibility, but if you mold it to your family lifestyle it can work well — regardless of your education or expertise. It does not require you to give up the rest of your interests; you can still have a life outside of homeschool.

Gather round homeschool

6. Learn about different home education methods. Different styles abound and can be learned from and used as resources. The schools of thought vary widely when it comes to this topic, so it’s best to sit down and find where you fall on the spectrum of belief yourself.

  • Unschooling: This is an anarchic approach where the student is self-directed. It’s based on the idea that a student is likely to learn quickly and easily when they study things they are interested in.
  • Diane Lockman offers an approach geared towards reading, thinking, and communicating, with a heavy Christian emphasis. She even offers online high school courses.
  • Unit studies — where each unit is dedicated to a different topic. You can often find units (and other varied curricula) online.
  • Charlotte Mason’s methodology is a little less conventional and focuses on “atmosphere, discipline, and life.
  • Montessori or Waldorf methods, where the child is more independent and “discovers” rather than is told.
  • An eclectic blend of different styles
  • A complete online curriculum package like Global Student Network
  • A private online school like International Virtual Learning Academy

7. Determine your own style of home education. Examine your own intentions and motivations. Why do you want to home educate? What do you consider a ‘good’ education? What do you believe about children, teaching, and learning? How do your children seem to learn best? These questions can help you determine what approach to take and help you create a learning environment that will be best for your family and your children.

  • Consider, too, that an approach that works for one child may not be best for another. In addition, what you may prefer may not be best for them. Talk to your child about their expectations before you go about outlining the year.

8. Plan your curriculum. The enormous volume of material and methods that are available can be overwhelming for a new homeschooling parent. It’s easy to forget how useful it all is! Identifying your approach will be the first step in narrowing things down. There are many resources to help you navigate through the maze of ideas. Research, read, and plan what you want to teach and how.

  • Libraries and bookstores have books on home education methods, experiences, and proven curricula.
  • The internet offers a never-ending source of information as well: basic information on various subjects, online purchase of curricula and supplies, articles about methodologies, support groups, and public school curricula. It even has free lessons on most subjects from teachers, other home educators, and even television stations.
    • Authentic classical education involves teaching reading, thinking, and speaking to substantial mastery. However, Unschoolers, while agreeing with the classical education system, usually have a wide variety of resources for their children to experience, but no formal curriculum. It’s all up to you.
  • You’ll want to touch on art, the sciences (Biology, Physics, Chemistry), languages, music, mathematics, history, and geography, for starters.

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Gather round homeschool

9. Look for local support. You can find local groups that meet regularly, organizations that put on periodic seminars or conventions, or even online groups that swap ideas and resources. Many groups set up co-op classes–taught by other parents–in a variety of subjects. If you start to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or all alone in your family’s educational pursuits, a support group can offer advice or just a reassuring acknowledgment from other parents that you are not alone.

  • They are also an invaluable resource for tips on how to comply with the home education laws in your area. If you have any questions at all, a local support group should be your place to turn. And your child could meet other homeschoolers!

11. Gather supplies. Home education supplies vary greatly according to teaching method. You can order textbooks, boxed curricula, and learning tools online or at home-educating curriculum and supply sales. For cheaper alternatives, many home educators use libraries, used book stores, curriculum swaps, thrift stores, and garage sales.

  • Back-to-school-sales at local discount stores or office supply stores are the perfect place to get some of the basic supplies like pens, notebooks and glue. Stock up in August and you’ll last throughout the year.

Gather round homeschool

12. Plan your day. If you choose to have a more formal home education environment, you can prepare by gathering your lesson plans, materials, and textbooks together — or even by setting up a room in your house for studies and activities. However you choose to home educate, it can only be helped by planning and preparing as much as you can before you start.

  • A different approach might mean your preparation involves setting up field trips for the rest of the year in every subject, placing learning objects around your home, or simply getting yourself into a mindset of using every day as a learning opportunity with no set plans or textbook.

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13. Look for hands-on activities.  Everyone benefits from seeing things firsthand. Some activities that can be educational as well as easy to do are: gardening, cooking, sewing, composting, science projects, hiking, fixing the house, caring for pets, and taking apart broken appliances (just make sure there are no lasers or dangerous electronic components still active). Your children will learn different things depending on their ages, but everyone will come away better educated.

  • Make sure your activities are fact-filled and concept-checked. Planting flowers can be a learning activity — or it can be an activity where a child got to play in the dirt. If you do do activities around the house, accompany it with a reading or other supplementary tool.
  • Some kids naturally learn better through hands-on activities—they’re known as “kinesthetic learners.”

Gather round homeschool

14. Keep a portfolio of each child’s work. Thick, three-ringed binders with tab separators for each student are an excellent way to keep track of schoolwork, along with whatever may be required from a legal standpoint. Label each tab with whatever subjects you are studying. After your child has completed a page, punch holes (using a three-ring hole punch) and snap the page into the proper section of their book. Remember to date each page or it will be a big jigsaw puzzle to figure out later.

  • This is especially useful if your child is thinking of going to college, as some schools require portfolios of work from homeschool students. And you could always use the materials for reference later for your next child or for your friends or relatives.

15. Go with your gut feelings. Trust your knowledge and instincts regarding your own children. You are not only the one ultimately responsible for guiding your children’s education, but you are often the one person best able to recognize what they do or do not need. Turn to evaluations and insights from others to help guide you, but trust your own instincts about what your children need to learn and do in their educational progress.

  • Questioning yourself is normal. You may feel like you do it all the time, especially when you first start. This is when your support group comes in handy and you should utilize the tools (like the Internet) you have at your disposal. Odds are you are just as qualified as the next parent who’s doing it and have nothing to worry about.

Gather round homeschool

16. Periodically evaluate your progress. Progress evaluation happens naturally through the one-on-one process of home educating, although in some areas the law requires periodic formal testing or evaluation of home educators. Personal evaluation, however, should not only consider how your child is doing academically but also how the process is working for everyone in the family.

  • If the teaching methods are a poor match with your child’s learning style, if the curriculum is too structured or not structured enough, or if the process of home educating seems to be making things worse rather than better, then it’s time for a change. Fortunately, change is something you can do fairly quickly with just a little research.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with your level of knowledge on the subject, there are standardized progress tests (such as FCAT) that your child can take and then have the scores mailed to you, and you can find many other tests to order or take online.

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17. Prepare your younger children. Explain to them what is going to happen in the months to come, including how daily life will be structured for them and the rest of the family. Explain to older children that though they may be leaving their school, it doesn’t mean they are leaving their education or their friends.

  • Ask them what they would be interested in studying. For example, if they love stargazing, get a telescope and study astronomy. Be sure to get them excited. Home education should be fun for the students — not a punishment. That’s the best motivator.
  • Encourage your child to take a personality test or learning assessment that helps narrow down their preferences and psychology. From there, try to plan activities based on their skills and talents.
  • Some kids might be visual learners, and may benefit from lessons/classwork with photographs and visual representation. Other kids might be auditory learners, while others might be more hands-on.
  • If it’ll help them, let them know that they’re one of 1.5 million (and rising) students that are going to learn from home this year.

Gather round homeschool

18. Allow your tween or teenager plenty of time to adjust. Often children who leave the standard educational system for home education need some time to adjust. Instead of immediately jumping into “school at home,” you may want to do unstructured activities and then slowly work into your routine. Determine how much “recovery time” is needed for each particular child, and work with them to create a different and more enjoyable learning experience.

  • If they’re concerned, do research and back up your opinions with others’ opinions; they shouldn’t think that this is some tyrannical decision on your part. If they think they’ll be behind, let them know that this means they can start taking college courses earlier — if anything, this will speed up their education process.

19. Don’t lose your child’s old connections, in addition to forming new ones. Encourage your child to stay in touch with friends they already have. You might encourage — but do not force — your child to become friends with another home-educated child as well. In many cases this will occur spontaneously if your family interacts with other homeschool families through co-op classes, field trips or homeschool sporting events.

  • One of the best things about homeschooling is that it doesn’t take 8 hours to teach your child. In fact, at a brick-and-mortar institution, they’d spend most of their time waiting. You may be able to get done in 4 hours what their old school could get done in 7. That means more time for you and more time for them to spend developing their selves.

Gather round homeschool

20. More tips

  • Regular trips to the library will cultivate a spirit of self- learning, something which public-school-educated children rarely develop. This also cultivates the love of reading in your child. Your child is sure to thank you for this.

  • Take pictures! Don’t forget to record home education activities, even those that may seem to be daily drudgery. By documenting your homeschool life you show that you are active and pressing forward with learning experiences. Make a scrapbook at the end of the year, or start a family website–both for memories and for a creative way to tell other people about your home education. You can also share photos and record memories by creating a homeschool blog.

  • Because your children will have more time to learn than public/ private school children, arrange activities outside the syllabus, like reading up on the history of European royalty, learning a new language or skill. This will give them a more rounded education.

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    Gather round homeschool

21. Be a cheerful teacher. Home education will become miserable for both you and your children if you become angry and frustrated from the daily stresses. Take care of yourself, allowing daily time to rejuvenate, and be prepared for the many responsibilities combined in your roles as parent and teacher.

  • Be sure to plan fun excursions such as visits to botanical gardens, farmers’ markets, airports or a post office. Because your child gets the full attention of their teacher, they are likely to learn a great deal from these trips.
  • Your local board of education might lend you a curriculum, or you can find plenty online.

22. Seek outside help when necessary. If there is a subject you do not have enough knowledge about to teach to your children, consider hiring a certified tutor, or have a friend (perhaps another homeschool parent) with in-depth knowledge of a subject come over and share it with your kids.

23. Address the “socialization” concern. Involve your children in sports, 4-H, drama/music classes, youth groups, scout groups, DeMolay, and so on. These will offer your children the opportunity to learn social skills and make friends. Home education can afford a young person the chance to interact with many different people in different situations, not just same-age students in a classroom or on a playground.

Gather round homeschool

24. Be flexible. If you and your family start feeling burned out, stuck at home or tired of daily lessons, take a field trip! Do something fun as a family, such as visiting a museum, going on a picnic, or going fishing. Not every day will go exactly as you have planned, and illness or emergencies can interrupt home education as well. Be open to changes and enjoy the ride!

25. Get each of your children their own library card. Weekly trips to the library are a great way to spark an interest in reading and learning. There are a lot of great books for kids, and the library is an excellent source of additional materials to supplement your courses of study. In addition, many libraries provide weekly story times and other programs for home-educated students (another opportunity for social interaction).

Gather round homeschool

26. Join an online home education forum or Yahoo group. Online message boards are great ways to receive support and encouragement without leaving your home. In addition, you can often share struggles with online friends that you can’t share with those in real life. These groups can be specific to a religion, teaching method or curriculum, or can be open to all home educators. They are wonderful sources of ideas and information for both new and experienced home educators.

  • If you are home educating a child with learning difficulties, seek out others who are also homeschooling special-needs children through groups such as Learning Abled Kids or the National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network. This is a large sub-community, and positive support and resources are essential for homeschooling success.

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27. Be aware of your time-use habits. Home educating is not an invitation to laziness: It’s a door to creating a learning style that better serves your family. Early birds can use the morning hours while night owls prefer late afternoons and evenings. Take a look at what you and your children’s most productive times are.

  • Try to find websites to help your child learn. Khan Academy is a great website.
  • Be aware that the child might want to work alone for a while without you fussing.
  • Take notice of what things your child likes, and use that to decide what type of learning would be best for them.
  • You need lots of books that are age appropriate for your child.
  • Remember, make sure everyone is feeling well and having at least a little bit of fun.
  • A good way to fit everything you want for your kids and your kids want, is to make specials. This might be expensive, but your kids will love it. Maybe it’s Monday Music, Tuesday Art, Wednesday Library, Thursday Tech Day, and Friday Gym. Whatever suits your needs.
  • This way, you get more learning and the kids get more fun. And who knows? Maybe you can make some clubs like chorus or band. And during your specials, teach them about artists, authors, etc. That will engage your child’s learning.

Gather round homeschool

28. Don’t overspend on curriculum and supplies. Home education does not have to be expensive! Utilize free and low-cost resources both in your community and on the internet, and don’t waste your money on unseen or unproven curricula.

29. Do not ignore laws regarding home education where you live. Find out what is legally required of home educators and follow though. Even neglecting what may seem to be a technicality could result in legal difficulties for you and your children.

30. Be careful not to overdo it! The opportunities for both educational activities and social interaction are so many that you may find yourself and your children overwhelmed if you try to do everything. Determine what you think is most important as well as what your children enjoy most, and stick to that.

31. Don’t become obsessed with your children! Take care of yourself, go out with your spouse, talk about something other than education and kids once in a while, and everyone will be much happier.
  • If grades are part of your home education, don’t hand out good grades out of love or sympathy. If they can do better, let them know. A ‘C’ is passing for most schools. If they are doing ‘C’ work, have them go back and repeat it or study further until their work is ‘A’ quality. Of course you want them to do well in their current studies, but beyond that, remember they need to be well prepared for college classes or the working world.

  • This is one of the most important pieces of advice if you are considering homeschooling: Don’t forget to discipline your child. You may be tempted to let them wake up late or slack off during the school day, but this will make it worse for your child in the future. When they go off into the real world, they will have a schedule given to them by their job, college, etc and they will have to work with it. A lot of parents fail to understand that while sticking kids in a protective bubble may keep them in safe in the short-term, it leaves them more vulnerable in the long run. Try to have a schedule, make your kids wake up early, don’t let them play video games or TV in the middle of the school day, etc. Don’t let your kids stay up late either. Challenge them, expose them to new situations. Let them meet other kids. Don’t try to protect them forever from mean kids. They will have to face mean people some time or the other. Now is the time to teach your kids how to deal with unpleasant or mean people. This doesn’t mean to let your kid get bullied! Just teach them that not everyone out there is nice.

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  • In the best interest of your children, re-think the idea of homeschooling if you suffer from a mental illness, such as agoraphobia, depression, or bipolar disorder.

  • Be careful when using a traditional textbook or online curriculum. These programs have many benefits, but they are not suited to all learning styles, and can bring the negatives of a traditional classroom into the home. Take care to adjust any curriculum you use to meet the needs and goals of your family.

  • Don’t get stuck comparing your child with others. Your child will have more time, more days of the year, and more opportunities for learning than their schooled counterparts. Enjoy the versatility of that privilege and worry less about how they compare with public school kids.

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