So you’re thinking about homeschooling…
What curriculum do you use? How do your kids make friends? How do you ensure that they’re learning everything they need to? What are the legalities of homeschooling in Nevada? How much does it cost?
There are SO many questions to answer once you decide to make a jump into homeschooling. Fortunately, they don’t all need to be answered right away 🙂 In the past, I’ve written about some of the many resources in the Reno area for homeschooling. To expand on the “what do I need to do” question that I hear so often, here’s a little breakdown:
1. Join Facebook groups like the Northern Nevada Homeschool board. This will give you instant posting access to hundreds of other moms who can help answer any of your questions as you get started. It’s not hard to get a homeschool momma talking about homeschooling…post your questions, and they’ll certainly get answered.
2. File your Notice of Intent with the school district. This being the most important (and really the only) legal requirement to begin homeschooling in Nevada, should be done promptly. If your child has never been in the public school system, you do not need to complete this until just before their 7th birthday. If, however, your child has attended public school in any shape or form (charters, brick and mortar public, public school at home, etc.), you only have 10 days from withdrawal to file your NOI with the county.
3. Join some groups, co ops, or other events where you will meet other moms. I know it seems like maybe you should pick your curriculums right away, but really, having connections with other moms will be a HUGE asset in choosing your curriculums. You’ll be able to pick their brains about what works for them, what doesn’t, their favorite (or not so favorite) curriculums, favorite online resources, etc. Have a tactile learner? I bet there’s another mom who has one too! What does she use? Have a child who can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes? Get some learning material suggestions from moms with similar children.
4. Pick your curriculums. I often suggest using a well guided or scripted curriculum your first year. You may find that it is not your style, or you may find that you love not having to think about “what’s next” to teach. That’s okay, you can always find something new the next year. There are plenty of curriculums that will guide you through what to teach each day, when to give tests, how to grade the tests, etc. They will have “kits” with everything you need, and you won’t have to worry about making sure you are teaching everything, as they will do that for you. As you get more comfortable, you may want to pick and choose a variety of resources to fit your style and your children’s learning styles. I am currently using a scripted curriculum for literacy and math, but love to be a bit more eclectic in my approach to other subjects. I still, several years into my homeschooling career, will seek advice from other homeschoolers about what books or methods are working for them. We often change things part way through the year, or ditch methods altogether if they aren’t working. That’s the beauty of homeschooling! Homeschool curriculums have fabulous resale value on eBay, and you can usually make a good amount of your money back if you happen to not enjoy a particular curriculum.
What about the cost involved? As much as we hate to admit it, money and cost DO play into our curriculum choices. Fortunately, there are SO many resources online for educating your children at home for free or very little. I love Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and of course random Google searches are helpful too! Some curriculums are very pricey, others much more reasonable. I ALWAYS check eBay for books in the fall and spring. The fall is when people often decide they hate something and sell it right away, the spring is when many are finishing up and clearing out the cabinets…I NEVER buy in the summer, as the prices are typically much higher as the demand is higher.
Keep a notebook of resources, texts, ideas, supplies, etc. that you’d like to purchase. Periodically check their main sites, Amazon, or eBay to see when they dip in price, and buy them then. Homeschooling can be as flexible as you’d like…just switch topics around to accommodate your need to wait on purchasing particular items.
5. Join activities, clubs, etc. Be sure to sign your children up for activities in the community. There are MANY activities for homeschoolers in Reno (be sure to check out my previous post for some ideas). This fall, my children’s schedule looks like this:
Mondays: Homeschool Choir
Tuesdays: Farm School (older girls); soccer (4 year old)
Thursdays: Piano Lessons; co op class once a month; field trip once a month
Fridays: Field trips once a month; play dates with friends
We typically complete most of our school in the mornings, and then have fun with a variety of activities with other people. Sometimes, especially on Tuesdays this fall, we do school in the afternoons based on our activity schedule.
What about the cost involved? Many homeschool specific activities are very reasonable in cost. Often with co ops, parents are expected to pitch in, making operating costs lower. Homeschool choir, for instance, is only $25/month. My girls have also participated in ballet classes for $25 for 10 weeks at a co op. Our family has a monthly “homeschool and activities” budget. This covers any new resources, books, activities, sports, field trips, etc. that we choose to do each month.
6. Jump in and have fun. Homeschooling is a learned skill. Not only that, but it’s a skill that has to constantly be refined, adjusted, changed, and tweaked. What works one year may not work the next. What works for one of your children may not work of the other. Give yourself time, take a deep breath when you feel stressed (take a day off if you need to), and have fun. It really is quite the fun adventure!