There are a lot of homeschool programs out there these days. I can’t cover all of them here, there are too many, but I can give you an overview. I will tell you what we do and why, but you should find what works best for your family and do that. Before reading what I have to say please visit HSLDA and make sure that you know your state’s homeschool laws. I live in Alabama where the laws are very lenient. They can be confusing if you’re new. If that’s you, please reach out to me! I’ve helped several people understand the state requirements. Also, I highly recommend that you check your state’s laws regularly, in case something changes.
Online schooling is super popular right now. I have heard a lot of parents say that it’s not homeschooling, it’s public schooling at home. This is true, but that doesn’t make it a bad option. This is often attractive because it’s free and much easier for parents. The most popular, according to Google, is k12. There may be other options depending on your state.
There are private online schools, but they tend to be expensive. Look at what curriculum they use and then look up how much it costs if you buy it and teach your children on your own. You do not have to use a curriculum just because a school is using it, though.
On that note, if you choose the “traditional” route, visit a homeschool expo so you can really look at the curriculum. You want to make sure that it suits your children. There are wonderful free options online, you just need a printer and a few basic supplies. Personally, I love Charlotte Mason, but her approach isn’t for everyone. She was an educator in England in the 1800s. She complained that schools were dumbing down children back then. Imagine what she would think of us today! She emphasized living books, foreign language, music, arts, and science. Every day your child should spend hours outside, unless it’s lightning. Her curriculum is called Ambleside. A homeschool mom created this site, Old Fashioned Education, that makes it a bit easier to navigate. If you are going to use Charlotte Mason’s ideas then I highly recommend you read her books so that you fully understand her goals.
Another option is unschooling. This is essentially what we do, but we recognize that it’s not for everyone. We don’t do grade levels, we don’t focus on whether our kids are behind or ahead, and we don’t buy curriculum. Our kids learn by living their lives. Our oldest is actually teaching our two little ones by playing games with them, and none of them realizes that they’re learning.
If you are interested in unschooling, I highly recommend the article What is Unschooling by Earl Stevens. It explains our approach better than I probably can, but I will tell you that it has worked beautifully for us. Our children learn naturally instead of being forced to sit behind a desk with a text book. Our oldest loves science so we do our best to get him out and about, whether it’s in the yard or a museum. Our daughter also loves science, but our youngest is very interested in culinary arts. He’s nineteen months old and loves pretending to cook. He will also push his chair to the stove and attempt to stir whatever is up there, but we redirect him to his cooking supplies and play food.
No matter what you choose, be sure you choose what works for your family. Just because an option is popular does not mean it will work for everyone. Check out your options and don’t be afraid to try new things. We started with Charlotte Mason and moved on to unschooling because it didn’t work for our oldest. I don’t think it will work for our little ones either, but they do love when we read to them. Which is imperative! We still read to our eleven year old because it helps him remember the story better and he still enjoys it, even if he won’t admit it.
Thank you for stopping by! Comment below if you have any questions.