Editor’s Note- I am so honored to have Ms. Wright share with us, I have known her for over 6 years and truly admire all she is doing! Alycia Wright, M.Ed. is a former Special Educator turned homeschool mom of four daughters living in Glen Allen, Va.
It is around this time of year that families all across nation begin to wonder if there’s another choice for educating their children. Perhaps you are feeling burnt out from the constant testing, your children are being bullied or you feel called to take back your time as a family. The reasons for homeschooling are as varied as people themselves. The idea of homeschooling can be intimidating, exciting or just down right confusing. Do know however that every single homeschooler was once in your shoes at some point and asked the question, “Where Do I Start?”
Luckily, it’s nearing the season for most state homeschool conferences. Here in Virginia there are two. The largest conference is sponsored by the Home Educators of Virginia and is held at the Richmond Convention Center in June. You can learn more about HEAV and their convention at www.heav.org. The other homeschool conference is put on by Virginia Homeschoolers, with its’ convention held at the Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center this April. You can learn more about this conference at www.vahomeschoolers.org.
My suggestions if you are interested in exploring homeschooling are to start researching these areas:
State Laws- Figure out the legal requirements to begin. Most states only require that you submit a withdrawal form for your student and file a “Notice of Intent” to homeschool to your local school division. In Virginia, this can be done at any time during the year. More specific information on the “paperwork” side of getting started can be found at both of the sites above, as well as the Va. Department of Education. I promise, it’s not too daunting and there are kind volunteers at both of the organizations listed above who will happily talk you through it.
Attend a Conference- You will want to talk and hear from other homeschoolers. Sign up for workshops on everything from “homeschooling Philosophies” to “How to homeschool with a baby and an eye- rolling teen.” Learn what resources are available near you. Browse curriculums and chat with vendors. Conventions are great for this.
Find Local support groups and social activities- This is probably the most difficult. A lot of homeschool moms call it “Finding Your Tribe.” In Richmond, the social and learning opportunities are almost endless. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to get the work done because there are so many cool homeschool activities going on! However, it is important to start to reach out to groups or start your own with people of similar beliefs and styles, for both your sanity and your children’s.
Relax- Yes, my suggestion is to relax. Remember that education is not a race. It doesn’t have to all be planned out with pacing guides and tests. Your homeschool life does not need to have highly structured blocks of seat time & scheduled breaks. You do not need a teaching degree to teach your children. Many of issues that are present in a school environment become nearly non-existent in a home setting because children are free to be themselves and learn without constraints. Deciding to homeschool gives you the freedom to choose what this journey looks like for your family.