I want to caution you not to overwhelm yourself in all of these support sites. Also try not to get so consumed by them over your schooling. The networking is great but schooling is more important. ( Also, be careful that you are not one being tied in as a "needy one" or with another "who is the needy one". Bloggers have found over the years that their are some who are needy and can not live with out the networking and may always be on looking for you or another to chat with, this disrupts your schooling and can get a little overwhelming or escalate further. Error on the Caution side)
Pick one and try it out if you do not like it close that one down and move to another. You do not want to spend more time networking than schooling. Sometimes more then one site can draw you in and become overwhelming. Not to mention most of all homeschoolers are blogging now a days about their adventures and links they have found, curriculum, projects etc. So just to give you a heads up about the networking/blogging traps as you begin your adventure. Its very easy to overwhelm your day or your shcedule as well as consume you where you may spend more time blogging, networking then schooling.. Many schoolers are finding this out now, so be careful with how much time you allow for networking.. With this being said, Welcome aboard!
The most important thing you need to do right now is, BREATHE. Deep breathe and exhale. RELAX! Although, You have just accepted one of the greatest challenges in your life, you know that you have accepted this with extremely good intentions. Teaching, watching your child learn and learning right along side with them is one of the greatest gifts and challenges in our life. When our child struggles we can be there with them to help them through it. Not always is that the case when our children are in public schools. Homeschooling, We actually get to be with them from start to finish, watching them as they learn to deal with each struggle that comes there way as well as encourage and support them every step of the way. There are many joys and struggles in homeschooling. I tell you this to give you a heads up. When times of struggle come, understand that you are not the only one who was faced with these same struggles. That is where having a support group or support networking site comes in handy. Your first 2 years you need positive encouraging people around you. Although that is often not the case for most, it helps to have as much encouragement and support around you. I encourage any new schooler to ground themself in Homeschooling facts. Not only are you educating your children, you are educating the people around you who will judge you for homeschooling.
Know your Homeschooling facts -- Know everything you need to know about schooling, here is where you should start:
- Know your State Guidelines and Legislation Laws, Stay current on these as they often change or add to them.
- Ensure you are in session the amount of days the law requires you to be in. I usually look at the public schools calendar and see what days they are out and if you are like me, neighbor kids come a knocking, lol, some days I plan a day off purposely because kids will be knocking for a play date with their friends. I am ok with that, however, some days I turn down. Dont necessarily do what the public schools do but if it helps you to plan your days, make your own calendar on the computer or use a calendar book and schedule your days. Also, be aware that unplanned things do happen, there is nothing you can do about that. Make up another day or do a little extra in your school day. Compensate where needed.
- Keep RECORDS of everything. Be it on the computer or in a record book. Keep records on Attendence, days out of session for holiday, Grades [if you use grading scale] etc. This does not mean build a pile of papers to keep forever. No way. Keep a few if you want, but only keep things like, evaluations of each year, writing reports [especailly as you get in to highschool - Colleges will want to see some work from lower elementary and upper elementary, good thing I have been told to keep was writing reports [in their own hand writing]. It is our job to hold records for future ref in schooling and should state req it.
- Follow and or sign up with the HSLDA. They have alert emails they send out and keep everyone posted. Follow them on facebook or twitter. If you can now or later get a membership with them. Most usually wait becaus it is somewhat costly, but they do offer discounts especially towards end and beginning of school year. This firm is here for all HS'rs when they need legal counseling or help.
- If your child is in public school, you will need to write a written letter of withdraw to the school principal. This letter does not need to be long and full of details. Make it brief and to the point, this is all they need to know. It is extremely important that you be respectful. No matter how disappointed in the system you are, never scold them or you will bring trouble to yourself when withdrawing your child. Compliment them on their work with your children [good or bad] and how you appreciate them and all they have done over the year[s]. This will help keep the peace between you and the school system when you come to withdraw your child. This letter should be sent with atleast a week to 2 weeks notice before withdraw your child. Give them enough time to prepare your transcripts and have them ready for you. Give them a date to have the transcripts ready so they will be prepared for your picking them up. ** FYI** If any school wants a sit down, wanting more information, I want you to know that it is a voilation of your parental rights. They have no right to ask you any questions for your withdraw. There have been times where I have seen and heard school systems over step their boundaries because they are losing children and this means their school will lose funds. Should this happen, kindly remind them of your parental rights and if there is any problems then refer them to your supportive law firm, the HSLDA. In most cases they back down and leave it at that. [Not always]. Why it is important to be respectful. You can share as much information as you desire, but keep in mind you do not have to share anything.
- Evaluate your child - If your child comes from a public school system to homeschool, I recommend you having them evaluated or you purchase the tests to evaluate them so you know where to begin teaching them from and what curriculum to buy for them. I usually test mine each year to ensure they are where they should be and where I would like them to be. The first year of homeschooling I tested 2x at the beginning and at the end. Now I only test 1x at the end of the year
- Know your childs learning style. To the left side of this site in one of the drop boxes you will find online free testing sites or you can purchase a test or take your child in to test for their learning type. This will help you in purchasing as well as teaching your child the curriculum. Here is a good article on the learning styles http://www.localwin.com/julie/learning-styles/