Where Do I Begin?
On the left side of the BCHE home page is a popout menu: New To Homeschooling. Read the first three links, Where Do I Begin? Registering with the LEA, Registering with a CRS. Start there, and you will have a better idea how to proceed. One big difference between homeschooling and public/private schooling: YOU are in charge of your child's education. You MUST make the effort and take the time to do some research and gain a basic understanding of the law and the methods to homeschool legally. After that, you get to decide what, when, and how your child pursues his studies.
Exactly HOW do we Homeschool?
READ THIS THOROUGHLY BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE!!
Learn about Homeschooling before you decide to make the commitment. Homeschooling is not an "easy out" if your student is having trouble in school. You have to put effort into learning HOW to homeschool (but it's not rocket science).
Give yourself at least a year to try homeschooling. Don't decide “it's not working” when you encounter difficult days or weeks. That's just called life - and homeschooling gives you the opportunity to work through those issues with your child.
CATEGORY 1 - Your child has not yet been in school -
* Give your preschooler lots of opportunities to explore – play games, go for walks, do art, get messy – it's ALL learning!
* Don't rush your preschooler just because the public schools say all children should be reading by the end of Kindergarten. Proceed at the pace your child can handle.
* Do not rush out and buy the first curriculum you see. You can make do for months on workbooks found at used bookstores and Walmart; this will give you time to figure some stuff out. (McKay's in Chattanooga is a great place for cheap materials.)
* Make friends, meet other parents, ask them how they do it. These are your best resources for learning. You will have to make yourself aware of the opportunities out there for social interaction with other families and children, and it will be very worth your time and effort.
* Start slowly but look for ways to incorporate field trips, hands-on learning, opportunities to involve your student in life.
* You can now do lots of activities, trips, lessons during the day when others are in school.
* Homeschooling does not have to be 'school at home' at a desk with workbooks and tests from 8 am -3 pm. Learning is a 24/7/365 thing. Learning should be interesting. Your child will let you know when it is not.
* Enjoy this time with your young child. Read about homeschooling using books from the library. You will NOT ruin your child if you do not have him sit a desk and do book work for 4 hours a day. Let him be a child and learn as he goes. Take him places and talk to him about everything!
* Most importantly, at this stage, you must begin learning about homeschooling and the myriad ways to do it. YOU must do this - read, ask, learn. If you were in regular school as a child, this is a big paradigm change for you. Take the time to explore how to homeschool in a way that suits YOUR family.
* READ all the pages on this website and take time to digest the 'laws' of how to homeschool in TN. It's not hard, it just takes some getting used to!
Category 2 - You are withdrawing your child from the public/private schools
* Do not panic if you do not have 'it all figured out' and a concrete plan of action for your child in two weeks. You will not ruin him if it takes you two months to figure out what grade level he is, or if he has learning glitches, or what he responds to best. Even if all you do is read books and do math worksheets for a couple of months, you'll probably be fine. But - take time to learn HOW to homeschool and talk to other homeschoolers. They are your best resource.
* Give yourself and your child time to get to know each other (if you are withdrawing him from school). Remember you have not seen this child in action because he has been some where else for 8 hours a day! Be PATIENT.
* You (the parent) need to become educated about homeschooling as well. You must be intentional. You are in charge now and no one will tell you what to do or when to do it. You have to take that responsibility yourself. (Note: this is a GOOD thing.)
* You need to read everything on this website about New To Homeschool and take time to digest it, and figure it out. It's not hard, but it is very different from what you are used to. You are used to having someone else tell you what to do and now you are the one who has to take the lead (scary, but only for a short while!).
* Decide upon registering with either an LEA or a CRS (or the other less common options.) Information about these are found on other pages on this website. You must choose one of these options to obey the TN Law.
*** You have 30 days from the day you withdraw your child to inform the school system which method you are using to homeschool your child.
*** You may withdraw your child AT ANY TIME and FOR ANY REASON.
*** Examples of a helpful Withdrawal Letter are on this website.
*Don't jump in and spend a lot of money hastily. There are lots of used book/used curriculum websites as well as several large annual book/curriculum fairs each year in our area.
* Talk to others about curriculum, read reviews, go to a curriculum fair and ask your child for his/her input. Talking to others is the best way to learn. Ask other children what kind of curriculum they use for different subjects and why they like/don't like it. Ask YOUR children what they like best about their schooling and begin looking at curriculum together.
* Get plugged into your local support group. We suggest joining a group to obtain the full benefits of homeschooling support and so your children can meet other homeschoolers their age (there are ALL ages in BCHE).
* After you join, get on this website and explore all the activities offered. Make an effort to develop a peer group for your teenager (they need it very much!). Get more involved in church or other social/educational activities that you couldn't do before.
*Attend BCHE's free public meetings called "New 2 Homeschooling" or "So You're Thinking About Homeschooling" (April/May and December each year), and "Homeschooling Through High School" (May). Also, come to April's Curriculum Chat to look at curriculum and talk to other parents about why they use what they use. All these meetings are listed on the Public Calendar. Please sign up so we can prepare the printed materials in advance.