Originally posted 10/10/2005:
We get tons of questions over at IHEN and the IndianaHomeschoolers list, and by far the most frequent question is, "How do I start homeschooling?"
Often people really want us to be able to point them to someone who can just tell them what to do. This is the beginning of the paradigm shift. When you are homeschooling, you need to learn to be comfortable with making decisions about your child/rens' education and with being in control.
So the first thing the amazing number of potential new homeschoolers we're hearing from need to do is breathe! We can almost hear some of them holding their breath as we read their emails. There is often fear of the unknown, state authorities,and failure.
In Indiana, if your child is in school all you need to do is write a letter saying that your child will be attending a private school. If your children have never attended school, you just keep doing what you're doing.
Many parents are afraid to pull kids out until they know exactly what they will be using and have purchased curriculum, but there is no need to wait. Children need some time to de-school when they first leave the classroom. And the longer they've been in school the longer they need!
When we began homeschooling ten years ago, we plunged right into a full curriculum right away. It was a big--and costly--mistake. My son, in particular, had had a very negative classroom experience and needed some down time. So we ended up taking the time to deschool later. (Actually, we ended up unschooling, but that's another entry!)
I also suggest people wait to purchase a bunch of books until they have spent some time at home. I spent hundreds of dollars on curriculum that we didn't end up using, because we discovered that it didn't fit our needs or style.
Spend some time reading good books and doing things that interest your child. Get a feel for what kind of homeschool you will have. Do you--and your chid--need fixed structures and timetables? Do you want to be able to delve into subjects in depth one or two at a time? Do you want to just take life as it comes and learn what shows up?
After you've figured it out you can get the books and supplies you need.