Every homeschool journey is different. Some families start when their children are babies. Some start their children in public or private school and make the switch due to a variety of circumstances! Some start when their children are older because they now understand the benefits and the customization of home education. Whatever the path, know that we are here to support you every step of the way!
Know your “Why”
Every family homeschools for different reasons. Take some time to think through yours. Writing down your reasons for homeschooling (“knowing your why”) will help you set your goals, can be an encouragement on a hard day, and can also help you explain your decision to others.
To create your goals, take some time to think through your reasons and then ask yourself how those reasons should impact your family’s homeschool. Maybe even have a Family Meeting to discuss the options, depending on the age of your children. Does it change what, when, who, how, or even where your child learns? It is good to have both short term and longer term goals as well as academic and non academic ones. Then work your goals into a plan.
Remember, you have flexibility! Don’t forget to relax. Many families take this one year at a time, re-evaluating at the end of each year.
Decide when to start
Your children have been learning since they were born. They heard the language you spoke and learned sounds, then words, then sentences. It is never too early to learn.
You’ve been teaching your children since they were born. They would see or point at something and you told them its name and how to use it. It’s never too early to teach. You are your child’s first teacher and you can do this.
Official homeschooling naturally starts in some families when the children are preschoolers. Parents recognize they’re already teaching about colours, animals, counting, and decide that it’s time to purposefully do more. To help support this strong start, HSLDA offers a free membership to families whose oldest child is under six.
If your children are in the school system and circumstances change in your family you may decide to bring your children home to school them. Please be sure to do your homework for legal requirements in your province before removing your children from school to homeschool. Always know you have cheerleaders no matter where you are in your journey!
Understand provincial requirements
Homeschooling is legal across Canada, but the laws in each province and territory differ, so be sure to inform yourself of your rights and responsibilities. Even if you think you know the legal requirements in your province, it is best to check in regularly to verify these requirements because laws and policies can change. The Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada (HSLDA Canada) stays abreast of changes throughout the country and keeps its members informed. HSLDA offers this free overview of provincial and territorial homeschool forms, legislation, regulations, and policies. Members of HSLDA Canada can obtain a detailed summary of the laws for each province through the member’s website.
Connect with other homeschoolers
It is vital to connect with other homeschoolers. Being a part of a large organization such as HSLDA is beneficial not only to keep current with legal requirements, but also for information, support, and even insurance for your group activities. But joining a smaller, more intimate group as well, such as a support group or co-op will help you fine-tune your homeschool. There you will find group outings, creative activities, encouragement from other parents, a safe place to laugh and cry about your victories and challenges, and an outlet to share. Provincial associations can be another important point of connection, most notably the incredible home education conferences they organize.
Choose your curriculum
Having the freedom to choose not just what, but also how your child learns is so exciting and freeing! Before choosing a curriculum, you’ll want to make some decisions about what your school will look like. What topics do you want covered? Will you try to have your child do any of it independently? How much bookwork will you plan? What will your child learn in groups with others? What books will you read outloud? To help you plan, here at HOMESCHOOL.TODAY we have numerous “How do I homeschool” questions answered on our searchable FAQ page. Our “How to choose curriculum” FAQ includes a general process you may find helpful to get you started.
There are numerous curriculum options and often if you have an idea, “there’s a curriculum for that” but, don’t forget that some amazing learning happens without spending a dime.
Enjoy the journey
No matter what curriculum or method you choose, every family's homeschool looks a little different. This is part of what makes homeschooling so beautiful and effective. Keep focused on your family’s needs and priorities, re-adjust as needed, and keep connected with the homeschool community. HSLDA Canada, the only national homeschool association, and many local homeschool groups are there to help you every step of the way and answer your questions so you can relax and enjoy the adventure.