We are in our fourth year of homeschooling and so I have here my top homeschool resources for first timers and those who are still on the fence about it.
When I made the decision to homeschool I thought it would come easy to me since I was a teacher. However, I was wrong. Yes, I could teach but I had no idea how to choose the right curriculum or what subjects I would have to teach at certain levels. I also did not know any of the state or city laws that pertained to homeschooling and forget about the requirements for ‘proving’ your children’s mastery. It was July of 2013 and I had a month to learn everything I could before handing in my Notice of Intent to the city’s school division and preparing the boys for their first year of homeschooling.
After so much research, most of it online, I found the following resources that I still use on a regular basis.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Top Homeschool Resources for Those Who are Unsure About Homeschooling
Before I handed in my Notice of Intent that first year, I stumbled upon Erica Arndt’s website: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com. This mother of four is amazing. She has been homeschooling her children from the start. With her experience, she has created the book: Homeschooling 101, A Guide to Getting Started. In it, she describes every facet of homeschooling and provides step by step instructions to help prepare one’s family for this new adventure. She also provides exercises that I found helpful in solidifying my decision to homeschool.
The second resource I recommend is your state’s department of education website. Here you can find the legalities associated with homeschooling and check whether you are able to comply with them. Also, some states may provide a ‘virtual academy’ where the students are taught and tested according to the state’s standards. The only difference is that the child is learning from home via a computer. This may be a good option for parents who want to homeschool but don’t feel comfortable doing the actual teaching.
And finally, the third resource is your state’s homeschool association. You can find your state’s homeschool association by visiting the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at www.hslda.org. These organizations have a wealth of information about all aspects of homeschooling within your state. You can find the legalities of homeschooling in your state and/or city district as well as other resources to help get you started. My state’s homeschool association sends me newsletters when a law has changed, dates and places to homeschooling conventions as well as family picnics for getting together with other homeschool parents. I especially like receiving my monthly field trip suggestions newsletter. This is where they provide me with a list of places that cater to homeschoolers and even provide discounts. Also, for many associations, if you join up (this usually comes with a yearly fee) they will provide you with legal support for homeschool issues.
Ok, I’m In, Now What? My Top Homeschool Resource for Choosing Curriculum
After visiting the sites above, the next thing you are probably wondering about is curriculum. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend cathyduffyreviews.com. You can find almost every subject here with reviews and prices. I actually purchased her book, 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum when I first started and I was glad I did. It is still my go-to book when I am looking for curriculum. For first timers, I suggest getting the book. In it, she outlines all the different teaching styles and matches the curriculum to that type. This is how I learned about the Charlotte Mason style. She also provides religious affiliations associated with a given curriculum. She recently came out with an update version, 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
My Top Homeschool Resources for the Charlotte Mason Style
If you have chosen this style or parts of it like I have, then you will want to visit: simplycharlottemason.com. Here, the Shafer and Smith family explain in great detail this method of teaching. You can even catch them on YouTube showing step by step how to implement this method to different subjects. You can also purchase their curriculum at this site as well. What I love is their CM book finder. They have gathered every available ‘living book’ and listed them here by subject and grade.
Another site to check out is notebookingpages.com. Here, Debra Reed provides assorted pages for implementing the Charlotte Mason approach for almost every subject. I purchased her lifetime membership four years ago and have to say that it was worth it. With your membership you’ll receive free samples of curriculum from other vendors to try out as well a year free to her web app that allows one to create their own notebooking pages. After that, it is only $2.49 a month to keep. Since my boys were too young at the time, I opted out of the web app, but have recently added it since the boys are becoming more and more computer savvy.
Other Top Homeschool Resources that I Recommend
If you have a young child, I would recommend confessionsofahomeschooler. Here, you can find Erica Arndt’s assorted curriculum from kindergarten to middle school. She also provides reviews for other curriculum.
For homeschool freebies, visit: homeschoolgiveaways. I get a ton of free printables that range from homeschool subjects to schedules and planners.
Try your local library’s website. I use my library’s site to put books on hold for the coming week, listen to audiobooks, and register the boys in upcoming educational events that take place there.
Well, I hope you find this helpful. I will continue to add and update this post when I find other useful resources. And if you have a fifth or sixth grader, check out my reviews of the curriculum we used. You can find this on my homepage under the tab ‘homeschool’.