Whether you have decided to homeschool your children from the beginning and have no clue on where to start, or have taken your children out of a public or private school setting and are wondering what the best transition is, all of us in the homeschool community are here to help you!
First things first:
Relax! Take a deep breath in and out. Also, stop shrugging your shoulders, it is bad for your neck!
One of the first things you need to do is to notify the county in which you reside of your intention to homeschool. This is required by law and you need to file this intent every year. (To view the laws regarding homeschooling in Montana, please click here.)
If you live in or around Great Falls, Cascade County puts their form online for you to print here. Alternatively, you can write your own letter and bring it to them.
You can bring the form into the superintendent’s office, or you may mail it. They also have forms at their office (located behind the treasurer’s office-white porch). Either way, you will want to get a copy of it (after the office puts their stamp on it) so you can use your form at many local businesses for a discount (Please check the link on the left.).
Now that you know of the laws and have filed your exemption, know that so many of us have gone through the EXACT emotions you are going through. In fact, we all have moments of anxiety and fear in our homeschooling journey. None of us have the perfect home school or the perfect students.
That super mom you saw with kids-in-tow? The one that looked all put together and the children listen and never say a word out of place? She’s felt what you are feeling right now. The frazzled mom with sweatpants and a hat on because she hasn’t showered in a few days-you know-the one whose kids are wrestling in the middle of the aisle? She’s felt those feelings, too. There is no ideal home school. Now that you know that, you can let go of the fear and doubt, and just relax.
Many want to jump right in and start school at home. If that is your style, that is great! However, most kids (and parents) will have an adjustment period. Many families suggest taking at least a week off to just read, look at books, find out which homeschool style fits your children (yes, there are many styles of homeschooling, and most of them intermingle!), find out what activities are available, and most importantly, just enjoy being together!
It is rare to find two people who learn exactly alike, so you must remember to be flexible. Your way of learning might be different than your child’s. If you have multiple children, they might learn in different ways, too. That is why homeschooling works for so many families. Government and Private schools usually cannot provide the individuality your child needs and desires, so take the time to learn what they need. Your reasons for choosing homeschooling someone else’s reasons for choosing homeschooling may be on opposite sides of the spectrum. However, these decisions and reasons are what makes homeschooling communities so diverse yet supportive.
Homeschooling is not for every parent or child or for their entire schooling years either. Some students are homeschooled for only a few years, yet others are homeschool alums who are continuing the family tradition. You will find a wide spectrum of people in our homeschooling community, and we all hope you come to embrace homeschooling with all of its benefits and quirks!
As a community, we are all here to help you. Feel free to ask questions and get recommendations, try new things, ask your child’s input, and know that you have support!
Many homeschoolers are on the Great Falls Homeschoolers Facebook Page. There is also the Cascade County yahoo group for those who do not have facebook. Our Calendar has almost every homeschool event on it (that we know about, anyway!), and there is also a Forum for lots of helpful links!