The great thing about homeschooling? Choices and flexibility! The confusing thing about homeschooling? You guessed it…so many choices and so much flexibility. Curriculum, schedules, co-ops…it can seem overwhelming to a new homeschooler. So where do you start? At HSLDA, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of seven steps, with links to valuable resources and supports, to help you get started on your homeschooling journey.
Need more information? No problem, our HSLDA member services team is available to answer your homeschooling questions.
Homeschooling is legal across Canada, but the laws in each province and territory differ, so it’s important to inform yourself of your rights and responsibilities. Even if you think you know the legal requirements in your province, it is best to check in regularly because laws and policies can change. The Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada (HSLDA Canada) stays abreast of changes throughout the country and keeps its members informed. HSLDA offers this free overview of provincial and territorial homeschool forms, legislation, regulations, and policies. Members of HSLDA Canada have access to a detailed summary of the laws for each province as well as support for filling out homeschool forms through the member’s website.
Does your child love to talk, sing, and does she have fantastic verbal skills?
Or, does your child have a vivid imagination, easily recognizes faces and places, and is she a whiz with directions and maps?
Or, maybe your child uses his hands a lot to communicate, was an early walker, and is a great athlete!
You know and study your child 24/7, so you naturally know her ways of rolling through life. But, did you know that these observations can tell you a lot about how to choose the best curriculum for her? Well, they do!
These observations about your child point to what are commonly known as “Learning Preferences.” (And, they really are superpowers for learning.) And, knowing your child’s learning preferences can help you select curriculum and guide your homeschool planning.
In fact, learning preferences can actually help organize your home education to enhance learning, improve attitudes (yes!), and help everyone enjoy the educational process more!
(And, who doesn’t want more of that!?)
To help you get started, here’s a simple learning-preference test your child can take themselves.
Having the freedom to choose not just what, but also how your child learns can be exciting and freeing! But with so many choices, it can also be a bit overwhelming. Before choosing a curriculum, you’ll want to make some decisions about what your school will look like. What topics do you want covered? Will you try to have your child do any of it independently? How much bookwork will you plan? What will your child learn in groups with others? What books will you read outloud?
To help you get started, this simple quiz will help you focus on what curriculum options are important to your family. HSLDA members can also give us a call and we will match you up with one of our curriculum specialists.
Parents can choose to educate their children in a variety of ways. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that its focused atmosphere allows many students to complete their work faster than in a traditional school setting. Also, transition times between classes are less at home than in a class of many students, and education methods can be targeted at the specific individual student, which increases learning efficiency as well.
Learning happens all day long, but generally, the younger your child is, the less “school” or “academic” time they will have. Most homeschool families have time scheduled in their week for learning away from home. For some, this includes joining an existing co-op, taking lessons, creating their own learning experience by gathering a group of friends to learn a specific subject, or doing a group field trip with other homeschool families to take advantage of “school” admission rates. Some families may homeschool full days if they are trying to progress quickly through their academic curriculum, while others may opt for half days Monday through Friday with experiential learning, fun, or employment in the afternoons. The homeschool day looks different in each family and even from day to day. Most families, as opportunities arise, take advantage of that learning experience and modify their routine.
There is no right or wrong plan for your school year. Some parents choose to follow the public school schedule so they can take advantage of community PA Day and March Break programs. Other families enjoy a “three weeks on and one week off” routine. Still others take larger chunks of time off during non-traditional months for vacation or when a parent comes home from deployment. From time to time, opportunities arise where families may plan many days off from their regular schedule and, instead, focus on experiencing other time-sensitive learning (ie: maple syrup production or bird migration).
One of the great advantages to home education is that you have the flexibility to adjust your homeschool to better fit the needs of your family. This flexibility is one of the reasons many people choose homeschooling. Whether it’s curriculum, schedule, or learning style, modelling flexibility can help your child to develop a positive mindset toward learning.
No matter what curriculum or method you choose, every family’s homeschool looks a little different. This is part of what makes homeschooling so beautiful and effective. Keep focused on your family’s needs and priorities, re-adjust as needed, and keep connected with the homeschool community. HSLDA Canada, the only national homeschool association, and many local homeschool groups are there to help you every step of the way and answer your questions so you can relax and enjoy the adventure.