Welcome to homeschooling! If you are considering homeschooling for the first time, this AAH Newcomers' Guide will help you get started. If you are an experienced homeschooler who is new to the Austin area, the guide will help you learn about the concerns and opportunities that are specific to our area and our homeschool support group. After you review this information, feel free to visit one of our many activities or join our email list to ask any questions you might have. Homeschoolers in our support group are glad to share their information and experiences with you.
As you begin, remember this advice from an AAH parent: "The first thing I became aware of was that once I jumped into homeschooling, there was not going to be anyone there to take my hand and lead my way. (Thank goodness for that!) It was very scary, and it made me really consider just how committed to homeschooling I was willing to be. As a product of the "system," it was hard at first not to have that "need" to be told what to do. Then I realized that was what homeschooling was all about. I was going to have to find my own way through the maze of information, fear, judgments, curricula, styles of learning and teaching, and friends' and family's opinions. I also figured out pretty quickly that there wouldn't be one clear-cut way for me to homeschool. It is a constantly changing and evolving process for us. I've learned that the support group is a great resource, but it's not there to teach me how to be a homeschooler."
But we are glad to share how we are homeschool, to help you find your own personal and individual path that is best for your family.
Many children need some "down time" when they first leave formal schooling. They might not know what they are interested in studying, or they might be resistant to studying anything. This is a common experience. You can visit with some experienced homeschoolers to get ideas for how to cope during such a time. The Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellyn, suggests many ideas for learning in ways that are completely different from traditional schoolwork; some of these approaches might be more interesting for a burned-out student.
As you get started in homeschooling in the Austin, Texas area, you will want to:
(1) Read the Austin Area Homeschoolers Newcomers' Guide. (This is the publication you are now reading.) It is fine to make your own copy of this information, since we are not trying to make a profit.
(2) Read Home Education Magazine's Homeschooling Information and Resource Guide. You can obtain a copy from Home Education Magazine, PO Box 1083, Tonasket, WA 98855-1083, http://www.homeedmag.com/INF/strt_index.html
(3) Choose a support group that is right for your family, and subscribe to the group newsletter. If you choose to affiliate with Austin Area Homeschoolers, you can get our free newsletter by email. See the section on "Austin Area Homeschoolers: Newsletter" for details. The newsletter contains a calendar of AAH events, announcements, book reviews, and articles of interest to homeschoolers. You definitely will want a subscription if your family intends to participate in AAH activities.
(4) Join the AAH email list, by following the instructions at Join the AAH email list by following the instructions at http://austinareahomeschoolers/email-list.html.
(5) Hang onto your money until you have done a little research to see the broad range of options you have. Resist the temptation to rush out and buy that complete, easy-to-use curriculum that you saw in an advertisement. The curriculum will still be available a few weeks from now if you decide you really want it!
(6) Read a couple of books about homeschooling. See the section on "Recommended Reading for Parents" for ideas, then check the public library or visit the education department of a local bookstore. Remember that there are many different approaches to homeschooling, so you might want to look through several books to find one that you like. You might want to start with Homeschooling for Excellence, by David and Micki Colfax, or one of John Holt's books.
(7) Subscribe to a homeschooling magazine or two, perhaps these. Unlike many national homeschooling publications, these two do not promote or assume any particular religious beliefs.
Growing Without Schooling(8) Read the Handbook for Texas Homeschoolers. Borrow a copy from a friend or from the public library, or get your own by contacting: Texas Home School Coalition, PO Box 6982, Lubbock, TX 79493. (Their website is http://www.thsc.org) This publication is updated yearly; it contains information on Texas law, homeschool attorneys, support groups throughout the state, umbrella schools, and how to get started. This publication has a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint, but even those who do not share that faith will find much useful information in this booklet.
(9) Visit some homeschooling events where you can talk to some experienced parents to get more support and information. To successfully homeschool, we feel it is very important that you and your children have homeschooling friends.