Are you thinking of homeschooling?
We can all agree that 2020 has been an interesting year for education. Maybe you’ve decided to start homeschooling your family, or maybe you’re just researching your options. Those options can be overwhelming and daunting. We hope you will find this guide useful and plan to update it periodically in order to keep the information current and relevant.
Editor’s note: our area’s homeschooling resources are vast, and that’s wonderful! If you know a resource that we haven’t listed, please contact us.
There are three main “paths” to homeschooling.
1) Learn-at-home option through your existing school district. Many districts are offering this, and you should refer to the guidelines and requirements your district has published.
2) Online public school. There are several different options if you wish to learn with a public school outside of your own district.
- Texas Virtual School Network – Online Schools Program. Students in grades 3-12 who are eligible to attend public school in Texas and who attended Texas public school in the previous school year are eligible to attend free online public school through the TXVSN. They will be considered full-time public school students and must follow all state-mandated requirements, including testing. Students attend through interactive online courses and are typically required to attend online sessions at specific times each day. A list of schools and links to the specific requirements of each school can be found on the TXVSN website.
- TTU-K12 program – the full-time program is accredited by the Texas Education Agency, and students will be required to follow mandated testing and graduation requirements. These programs are open to students all over the world, not just Texas. There are admission and testing fees, as well as tuition per class. Most courses are self-paced, but there is a time limit for course completion. Students may enroll at any time throughout the year.
- University of Texas High School – similar to TTU-K12, UT High School is accredited by the TEA, and students will follow testing and graduation requirements. There are also admission and testing fees, as well as tuition.
3) True homeschool. In the state of Texas, homeschooling is very flexible and comes with a lot of freedoms. However, this can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t know where to start!
Getting Started with Homeschooling
How to begin
- Research the homeschool laws in your state. HSLDA is a great place to start.
- For those in Texas:
- If your child is younger and has never been enrolled in school before, there is nothing you need to do – you are able to start schooling whenever you wish!
- While you are not required to register with any school district in order to begin homeschooling, if your child is currently enrolled in school, you must withdraw them from school so that your child is not considered truant. You can do this in person or via mail. The Texas Homeschool Coalition has some tips and information regarding this on their website.
If you are in the Lubbock area, there are several groups available to provide information and support in your homeschooling journey!
- Lubbock Homeschool Network is a Facebook-based support group for local homeschoolers. This is a great resource to ask questions and connect with other families. You can find social clubs, sports groups, and more! There are also smaller Facebook groups that can be found through LHN as well that are usually more specific, such as science clubs, social groups, and a secular homeschooling group as well as many others. They are also creating a searchable database for local classes, courses, and groups open to homeschoolers. This is a great place to get started!
- Grace Homeschool Co-op is a co-op run by parents that meet once per week. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Classical Conversations of Lubbock provides support as well as “community days” while still allowing you to choose your own curriculum. Contact information can be found on their Facebook page.
- Sports – the Lubbock Homeschool Christian Athletic Association is the competitive sports association for the West Texas area homeschool community. The Titans currently field teams for seven different sports. Information can be found on their Facebook page. Swimmers can also find a home with the Desert Wave Aquatics Club. Other sports opportunities can also be found and are often listed in the Lubbock Homeschool Network.
- Local homeschoolers – if you know someone that homeschools or knows a friend of a friend, ask! Most homeschoolers love to answer questions and help others the best they can.
- Texas Homeschool Coalition provides a lot of information on their website that is available to the public and helps answer questions regarding homeschooling in Texas. While they also offer memberships, you do not have to be a member to view much of the information.
- Home School Legal Defense Association is a nationwide organization that provides links to the legal requirements for each state in the U.S. as well as other useful information. You do not need to be a member to access most of the information.
- Cathy Duffy Reviews – if you are looking for a review of a specific curriculum, this is a great website to start with. This is a well-organized site with many reviews and features available. However, you should also seek out multiple reviews from different sources when researching curriculum.
- Other homeschool groups local to you. The THSC website has a search feature to help in your search for local groups and resources.
Curriculum and Homeschooling Styles
There are pretty much as many homeschooling styles as there are homeschoolers, and it would likely take a month of Sundays to provide an overview of the curriculum choices available! The curriculum and homeschooling style you choose will depend upon so many things – your child or children’s learning style(s), how many children you have, your personal beliefs and philosophies, your budget, outside commitments, and many other factors.
A quick internet search can quickly overwhelm a new (or veteran!) homeschooler with articles, blog posts, curriculum choices, videos, and can easily lead to anxiety and self-doubt. At the end of the day, the “perfect” curriculum or homeschooling style is the one you choose and the one that works for your family. That may change over time as you all grow and learn.
A homeschool blogger recently put out a “Quick Start Guide” series of videos on different aspects of homeschooling. The third video in the series discusses homeschool styles and curriculum choices, and it is definitely worth taking the time to watch. She also has some basic planning pages that you can print from her website for free. This website also has a simple explanation of different homeschool styles.
Many homeschool curriculum companies offer free trials or sample lessons for their products. Take advantage of these as you are researching what might work for your family. You can also find user groups for many curriculums and homeschool methods on platforms such as Facebook. These can be a great resource, as well. Also, remember – the library is your friend!
Practical Advice from a Homeschooling Mom
- Take a minute to breathe – you’ve got this!
- Get to know how your kids learn. Discover their learning style. Pay attention to what sparks their interests. Use that knowledge when you are looking at the curriculum and topics to learn about.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much too soon. Start slowly and build up. It’s hard not to worry about “getting behind.” However, remember this — your child is always exactly right where they need to be!
- Plan out a basic schedule so everyone knows what to expect. However, remember to be flexible too! You may discover that moving the start of your school day back an hour brings more peace to your household, or you might learn that your kids need more wiggle time at 11:00 am to be able to finish their reading lessons. You will learn more about what works and doesn’t work as you go, so know that even if you have a great plan and a schedule to start with, you may need to make some adjustments.
- Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. They will not look the same, and that is more than okay.
- There will likely be a transition period. There may be resistance and pushback, even if your kids are excited about homeschooling. These will be new roles for everyone. Things will not be perfect. Have patience and give yourself some grace.
- It’s okay to outsource! You are in charge of your homeschool, but that does not mean you have to teach every single lesson of every single subject yourself. You can utilize co-ops, tutors, online lessons, and more.
- Get connected! This is a personal journey, but remember that you are not alone. Find someone that you can share your successes and your struggles with. That could be a local homeschool group or another homeschool family that you know. It could also mean an online group of homeschoolers in other communities. Your tribe is out there!
- Remember to include things that you find enjoyable too! If you incorporate things that you enjoy or are passionate about, your excitement will flow into your kids.
One More Note . . .
Once you have made the decision to homeschool and have checked the legal requirements where you live, the best way to get started is to do just that: start. If something isn’t working, then re-evaluate and make changes if needed. If you have questions or just need someone to talk to – reach out. Find a homeschool group or another homeschooling parent and ask questions! Have faith and confidence in yourself, your family, and your decision, and enjoy the journey.