At this point, the decision has been made. By the time you distill the emotions and logistics down to these bare bones—two or three pages of black and white—you can see the writing on the wall. If your decision is to homeschool, what remains is implementing the necessary changes. If your decision is not to homeschool, then you will proceed to finding the best educational solution for you—private school, different public school, changes within the current school. Sometime in the future you may again consider whether to take the teaching reins and can re-read this book from a different slant.
If homeschooling seems right for you and your family, continue reading. You will find answers regarding legal curriculum and scheduling issues that will help you proceed.
If Your Child Has Never Attended School
The situation is completely different for the child and parent who have not yet been involved in school. As we demonstrated above, you have actually begun homeschooling without realizing it. Games you play to keep your baby or toddler content are beginning homeschooling exercises. Counting games, shape-and-color games, and sound games followed by word games build the foundation to what homeschoolers do on a “larger” scale in “grades” 1 to 12. Families who have never been involved with school seldom think in grade (or age) terminology; they view each child as unique. For example, your child may be a “first-grade reader” but a “third-grade mathematician” and should be taught accordingly.
If your child has never attended school, you have by far the easier route to take in continuity and adjustment. If you have been at home all during this time, you probably know your child so well by the time he is five or six that your home-educating experience is likely to be a seamless transition. You won’t have to quit a job, find another, or work from home. You’ll have no need to adjust to a sun-time day to replace some time-clock world. You won’t have to deal with negative social “issues” often born of schooling, and your child won’t need to take time off from academic work to adjust to the change.
If your child has been cared for by someone else while you were working, you can begin really getting to know her now. Observe her more closely than you had time to before. Interact with your young child and see how she moves from one interesting thing to another all day long. Unless someone stops this flow of curiosity, it will continue on its own. You can take the time to read to her now, play “math” games, and just be involved with her. Try to train yourself to remain interested for long periods of time. Prepare yourself mentally to enjoy your child’s company, and both of you will benefit. ♦ Mary & Michael Leppert