Learn Your State’s Laws
The first thing to do, when considering homeschooling, is to check out the laws in your state. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website is a great place to do this, as is the National Home Education Network (NHEN) website. You might also want to check your state’s statewide support group(s). You can usually find them by doing a search for “[your state name] homeschool support group.”
A local support group is also an excellent source of information. These groups can often be found linked from HSLDA, your statewide support group or through a Yahoo group search. Just search for your state or city plus “homeschool support.” You might also check the bulletin boards of your local library or teacher supply store.
Educate Yourself on Homeschooling
After educating yourself on your state’s laws, you want to begin educating yourself about homeschooling, in general. There are often a lot of misconceptions about what homeschooling looks like, what is required, how long it takes or how much it costs. I highly recommend reading about a variety of homeschooling styles, even though you may initially think that a given style is not for your family. One of the greatest things about homeschooling is being able to tailor it to your family’s specific needs. And, the tailoring doesn’t have to be limited to resources. You may find that different aspects of a variety of styles fit your family.
(*note links to more detailed information on some styles)
There are probably nearly as many styles of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers, but following are some of the main styles:
This homeschooling style looks very much like a public or private school classroom. It is very structured and relies heavily on textbooks. It may include a classroom, desk, whiteboard, tests, grades, and a school-like schedule.
This style follows the three stages of learning: grammar (grades 1-4), dialectic (grades 5-8), and rhetoric (grades 9-12) and encourages a chronological, cyclical study of history and science.
This style encourages learning through “twaddle-free” living books, nature study, art, music and free afternoons for children to explore on their own.
Unit studies, also called thematic study, incorporate all or most subjects into one general theme. These are often based on the interests of the child and can offer a nice balance between unschooling and more structured learning.
Unschooling, often called child-led or interest-led learning looks least like a traditional school setting. The theory is that all people learn best when they are interested in what they’re learning, so children are allowed to direct their own learning with parents as facilitators.
Homeschooling: The Early Years by Linda Dobson
The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
The Relaxed Home School by Mary Hood
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer