The Insider’s Guide to Homeschooling: What You Need to Know Before You Start (Part 2)

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The idea of homeschooling can feel so overwhelming to those just starting out. There are so many questions! Last week, I tackled the first in a series of questions and answers about homeschooling.

Today, I’m answering the next round of questions. If you don’t see your question, you can come back next week for Part 3, or leave it in the comments and I’ll consider adding it to a future installment of the series, The Insider’s Guide to Homeschooling: What You Need to Know Before You Start.

The Insider’s Guide to Homeschooling What You Need to Know Before You Start (Part 2)

How do I choose curriculum?

I’ve shared tips on how to choose homeschool curriculum many times, so I won’t go into a lot more depth here. The most important things to remember when choosing homeschool curriculum are:

Consider how your child learns and how you teach. You may not know the answer to either of those questions when you start out, so there will probably be a process of trial and error involved. You may be able to tweak the curriculum to make it work or you may even wind up changing curriculum mid-year. That’s okay. It happens to lots of us.

Ask questions. Go to a curriculum fair. Ask a homeschooling family. Search for reviews online. Ask homeschoolers online (Facebook pages and groups, bloggers, etc.).

Some sources for online reviews of a variety of homeschool curriculum options include:

And, of course, I offer a variety of homeschool curriculum reviews on my site.

Utilize your library. You may not even need to purchase curriculum at first. The library is an excellent resource for history, science, and reading (obviously). It’s okay to use the library for those things while you focus on figuring out the other subjects and what is best going to fit your homeschool family.

How do you transition from public school to homeschool?

I’m totally cheating for this one because I recently addressed that very question here: How to Transition from Public School to Homeschool.

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How do you introduce homeschooling to young children who have never been to public school?

This was probably a bit different for me. My oldest went to public school for kindergarten and first grade. Once we started homeschooling, it was just natural to pull in her younger siblings when it was time.

I think the way we did things with them would work for most kids, though. Start gently and capitalize on their natural curiosity. We started building routines by beginning the formal learning part of our school day the same way each day. For us, that was saying the Pledge of Allegiance, pledge to the Christian flag, and the pledge to the Bible. No, not so our home would look like school, but because those were things I wanted my kids to learn and they helped to build routine.

We also had calendar time where we’d put the day’s date on our kid-friendly calendar (yes, the exact one I linked to – so cute!) and practice the days of the week and months of the year. We did a Letter of the Week program and read lots of great books. It took very little time each day, but began to build the foundation for the routine of formal learning.

What You Need to Know Before You Start (Part 2)

How much does homeschooling cost?

This is another question whose answer can vary greatly. It can depend on your homeschooling style, how many children you have, and what their ages are. It can also depend on how much legwork you’re willing to do. Based on my own experience, it’s fairly easy to homeschool frugally when your kids are younger. When they reach high school, curriculum can get expensive quickly. That’s understandable since the scope of what is being taught is so much more in-depth.

If you want a complete, all-inclusive curriculum for each child, you can probably plan on plunking down a nice little chunk of change. If you’re more eclectic and willing to piece together your own materials, you can often homeschool more inexpensively.

Cindy West raises some sensible cautions about homeschooling frugally that I think everyone who is trying to homeschool for free (or very inexpensively) should read. There are some fantastic resources out there, but you must be intentional about making sure they’re meeting your child’s needs.

I know most people prefer real numbers, rather than generalizations, so I asked on my Facebook page. Just to give you an idea of how much the cost of homeschooling can vary, one mom spent less than $100 for her 3rd grader, while another spent $500 for the same grade level. The most that any of my readers reported spending was $2,000-$2,500 for a 9th grader. This included curriculum, co-op fees, supplies, and extracurricular activities.

Lots of parents reported spending $100-$200 per child, while many spent $400-$600 per child. It really depends so much on the student’s age, your curriculum choices, and the cost of supplies. For example, we had a bit of sticker shock the year we purchased high school biology curriculum, supplies for the labs, and a quality microscope. However, the curriculum was non-consumable so it, along with the microscope, could be used again by younger siblings later on.

When figuring the cost of curriculum it’s wise to consider whether or not it’s consumable. If not, it can be passed on to younger siblings or resold, which means it may not be as expensive as it may seem initially. Also, unit study type curriculum – such as Trail Guide to Learning, which we used –  is intended for multiple ages, which may make its price more reasonable than it would be for a single child.

The bottom line is, you can provide a quality education without spending outrageous sums of money – but if you’ve got the money to spend, there is plenty of quality homeschool curriculum in which to invest. The costs run the gamut from what you’d expect to pay to send a child to public school to what you’d expect to pay to send one to an expensive private school.

I hope you discovered answers to some of your questions about homeschooling. If not, check Part 1 of the series or come back next week for Part 3.

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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