Saturday, May 9, 2015

New Homeschooler Packet

Are you thinking about homeschooling? Do you have a friend who wants to homeschool and is turning to you for advice? Need a quick reference for yourself or moving to a new state with different laws?

I often have people ask how to get started with homeschooling. What do they need to do? How to they select the right curriculum? Is it even legal? Where do they turn for support? Most recently these questions came from my kids' karate instructor. I was a week away from attending our homeschool conference and told her I'd pick up some information for her. Now I've done this before for friends and acquaintances, except I did it all wrong. Upon returning, I handed them a big stack of catalogs and papers with a general "ask if you need any help" offer. You know how many called me back? Not one. So this year I took a different approach. I put together a new homeschoooler packet for her.

In order to do this, I still went through that vendor hall to pick up some (but not all) the usual information I get, and instead of handing it to her, I organized into an easy to navigate manner.

My first stop was the HSLDA booth.I picked up an application for a FREE preschool membership along with their brochure "You Can Homeschool Your Preschooler" available FREE on their website! (Can you tell I love free?) I also scanned the table for any handouts they had on getting setup in our state. They didn't have them this year, so I went back through old conference notes to find the Cliff's Notes version of our state laws and printed them off along with step by step instructions for getting all set up with the State Department of Education.

Next, I had attended a wonderful session by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason entitled "The Five Flavors of Homeschooling". What a great "back to basics" session this was for me personally. I found out that she was giving away a DVD of the session for FREE, so I picked one up to include in my packet. You can view the session for yourself at the link.

Finally, I included a list of curriculum companies organized by subject. I also included a list of helpful homeschooling blogs and a few of my own personal tips for getting started. Then I slip in a flyer for our local homeschool support group.

Have you ever put together a information packet such as this? Let's see pictures! What other information do you think would be helpful?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Homeschool Conventions ... Now What?

A while ago I shared my tips for surviving your first homeschool convention. Now that you've attended, survived, and hopefully learned a bit, what do you do with all that stuff you've most likely obtained?

My husband, two older children, and I just returned home from our annual homeschool convention! As always, the kids had a great time, and I came home with a huge bag of stuff before counting any purchases!

Vendor halls are great! They give you the opportunity to really look at a product before you buy. The hall is also filled with a lot of junk - an abundance of catalogs, flyers upon flyers for activities that don't fit your family, and a ton of random freebies (pens, candy, etc.). For me, all this stuff makes it hard for me to concentrate on what I learned, so the first thing I do after unpacking is to GET RID OF IT! As I empty my convention bag, I sort everything into 3 piles; "keep", "revisit", and "trash". Once I sort into these 3 piles, the trash is thrown away. Next, I take pictures of all the cards, flyers, catalogs, and information in the "revisit" pile and then throw it away. This way I have a digital copy of the item without finding a place to store it. Finally, I should be left with a small pile of the things I really want to keep. For me, these may be smaller purchases or forms I need to fill out and send in. Also in this piles are receipts from the weekend. These are put into a folder and saved until tax time. (Yes, I will soon be able to write off school expenses in my state!)

Once the paper clutter is mostly taken care of, I pull out any speaker handouts and notes I took. I simply type or scan these into a Word document and throw away the paper copies. If you read my convention tips post, you know that I buy CDs of all the sessions. At this time I import the tracks into iTunes for listening to at a later date. I also slip these into my desk with the previous years' convention disks. Ideally, all of the discs would be placed in an CD sleeve (similar to this) and then stored in my teacher binder.

Lastly I can go through my purchases and put them away for next year. At this point I feel pretty free an settled in back at home from a long but wonderful weekend away.

Well, until I go and do this ...