Homeschooling Checklist

Homeschooling is a great idea for those parents who want to provide a good alternative education to their children in a context outside of school. It is best to approach homeschooling with a strong sense of structure because there is the real danger of all of it sliding into happy explorations with no clear agenda or targets. It helps to have a checklist when setting forth on the adventure of homeschooling.

A homeschool can be set up in any format and there is no compulsion to start classes in September and have them go through until June like many public schools. However, it is important to have some clarity about how to plan a school year. It is a good idea to think in terms of semesters or quarters. These kinds of breaks make for some natural ebb and flow and there are defined benchmarks. It is also a good way to make sure that there are realistic expectations.

The planning for the year applies for the day also. Just as it is important to know that during the year some months will be given over to travel or family activities, it is best to acknowledge that some parts of the day are not going to be productive for school work. Set realistic expectations of 4-5 hours or focused work for older children and 2-3 hours for younger children. While this sounds shorter than a regular school day, it is worth noting that homeschooled children by and large tend to go through their material a lot more quickly partially because of the lower class size and partially because of the focused effort from teacher and student.

Once there is structure for the year and day, it is important to familiarize ourselves with the curriculum. The main motivation for many homeschooling parents is to have a good curriculum - so once a level is picked based on the interest and capabilities of the children at home it is important to go through the material when it arrives. Given that there is the scope for customizing whatever is picked, it is a good idea to go through and make modifications as needed.

It is probably a good idea to work in some form of assessment into a school year. It does not have to be a test but some form of measuring progress will give the homeschooling parent a good idea of the kids' strengths and weaknesses.

It will be a nice touch to have a defined classroom space within the house. The idea is not to recreate a classroom as seen in school but to create an acceptable home version - experts recommend a computer and a good work desk with a white board being a nice additional touch.

As the school is being planned out in detail, one thing to factor in is the need for social interactions with other children and the need for outings that will stimulate a child's natural curiosity. So group visits with other homeschooling parents to nearby museums can be a great way of continuing home-based education away from the context of worksheets. It is worth remembering that a creative homeschooling parent can find teachers resources and lesson plans in non-traditional settings also.

Since the idea of a checklist is to remind people of all the things necessary to be successful in homeschooling, it is pertinent to add that it is important of homeschooling parents to remember to relax and enjoy the process. Without that joy and passion all the planning can devolve into a dry and stressful experience.