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Preparing to homeschool?

6 steps to help you get started

preparing to homeschool

With the uncertainty of what school will look like this fall, many parents are deciding to homeschool their kids. Some worry about their children’s potential exposure to COVID-19 in a school setting, while others don't want them to have to wear masks constantly and feel inhibited in their interactions with friends.

Kerry McDonald of the Foundation for Economic Education offers these guidelines to help you  decide whether homeschooling to right for your family. And if you decide to move forward she suggests how to prepare for the homeschooling experience. (Note that some of the links included may be sponsored.)

Check out local requirements. Although remote learning and/or part-time in-school learning may not be technically homeschooling, they might meet your needs, and school districts are prepared to be flexible. But if you're making a break and setting up independent homeschooling, many states require that you register as such, establish a curriculum, and report regularly to the school district. For information on regulations (and other resources), search Facebook or Google for local homeschooling groups.

Choose your style and aims. If you're just filling the gap until the health crisis passes, and you expect to put your kids back in school, you might want to find a curriculum that mirrors the grade standards. You could take advantage of being at home to mix a standardized curriculum with less traditional programs and learning tools. Or if you want to try a version of “unschooling,” in which kids' learning is driven by their own curiosity and talents, you can work in a more free-form fashion. Homeschooling offers all sorts of options for the varied needs of families.

Check out curriculum and other resources. The pandemic has added to a vast array of options, many of them free. Here is a sampling of resources.

For preschool and kindergarten:

A list of the simplest reading books:

Audio stories for young children:

For elementary-age kids:

Grade-level workbooks conforming to state standards:

Low-cost online streaming classes with live teachers:

For middle-school kids:

Free online videos on many subjects, especially strong in math:

A free online writing curriculum with paid options for more in-depth lessons:

For teens:

Consider courses at your local community college or an online, accredited high school program.

Online classes taught by professors, up to the Advanced Placement level:

Look around for local resources and experiences. With the pandemic, usual resources like libraries and museums may be closed. But you can still seek homeschooling groups and mentors in the community to enrich the learning experience.

Consider a microschool. With parents often working full-time, families can benefit from banding together to take turns supervising a group of children. Another option is to hire a teacher or college student to help out.

Think positive. It's a historic moment, and we are all growing and learning from living through it. Homeschooling is a great way for you and your kids to adapt to this challenging time.

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