Homeschooling — Where to Begin

Many first-time homeschoolers may feel a bit overwhelmed with where to begin. It can be a little scary to take your child’s education into your own hands. However, most homeschooling parents find it gets easier as they gain confidence, find resources, connect with other families, and see their children thrive in their own home education environment.

One of the biggest advantages to homeschooling is that it offers a truly customized education that can change whenever needed. Homeschoolers are not required to declare a particular curriculum or learning goals for a given year. This means that parents can adjust to the child’s educational objectives and progress throughout the year.

Many parents are not sure where to find resources and may default to a “school at home” structure and curriculum because it creates a more traditional and familiar learning environment. While that may work for some students, it is certainly not required. Some children, especially younger ones, may thrive in a more relaxed and informal setting that responds to their changing interests. Just because traditional schools may cover a unit on amphibians, it doesn’t mean you must cover that year if at all.

Parents are often concerned that a less structured approach may lead to gaps or differences relative to their child’s like-aged peers. That may be a concern particularly if you intend to enroll your child in a traditional school in the near future. Otherwise, learning differences are not unusual even among students in “regular school.” Students do not always remember what was taught in previous years and schools often have a significant review period at the start of each school year. At the high school level, it is customary for schools to require placement tests for any new or transferred student. This is ordinary and not unique to homeschooled students.

Fortunately there are hundreds of excellent resources available to homeschoolers. The key to finding the “right” one is to understand your child’s educational needs and how he or she learns best. Some kids love reading while others prefer hands-on activities. Before you purchase expensive curriculum, find out if any local homeschool friends have some you can examine. Some homeschool groups hold used book sales and swaps. Ask your friends about their recommendations and read reviews. Many homeschoolers also make great use of their local libraries. If you are comfortable using online resources, there are thousands of websites and many offer free access.

To start your search, check out the resources from the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition (NHHC). Membership is free and they provide links to many resources and contact information to local groups. The NHHC also holds a large annual workshop each spring. The Citrus Groups Homeschool Network is another state-wide resource and they host an annual book sale. There are additional state-wide homeschool support groups; a list with contact information is available on our Resources page.