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Plum

What to include in an email to a newbie homeschooler?

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I’ve had to write several emails to people interested in homeschooling that were referred to me by mutual friends. My emails have become looong as I add and edit every time I send it. It desperately needs to be pruned. 
 
What would you include in an email to a potential newbie? 

What is your best advice? References? 

Edited by Plum
Added potential for clarification. I also can’t leave anything alone.
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Well, definitely save your original UNpruned long informational emails -- you'll use those at some point! 😄 

For book recommendations:
The Everything Guide to Homeschooling (Linsenbach) is the best book out there that I've seen. It covers everything a person needs to know to get started with homeschooling, and it is laid out very cleanly and feels like the info is in friendly, manageable chunks. Also, it was published in 2015, so the info is still pretty recent in the fast-changing world of homeschooling. Obviously, after that, I'm partial to The Well Trained Mind. 😉

But to start with, whenever I talk to people interested in homeschooling who have been referred to me, I start with very basic info (what is required to homeschool), and then start asking questions, so that the flood of information can come at them a trickle at a time so they can actually absorb it, and so it can be of the type of info that they are looking for at that moment. I also let them know I'm happy to continue the discussion, either answering specific questions, or I can send them more detailed information on things like the different educational philosophies, or suggestions for curricula, or other topics.

Example:

To start homeschooling:
1. Find out what is legal required in your state to start homeschooling. See this _________ (fill in with a link to their state's regulations)
2. If your child is currently in a school, you'll also want to officially withdraw them, get an official copy of your child's records/transcript (esp. if in high school).
3. Here's a list  _____________ of what subjects you'll need to cover. So you'll need to select curricula/programs for teaching/covering each subject.
4. Talking to local homeschoolers can help "mentor" you (show you materials, share what to expect, point you towards local resources and opportunities). Here's how to find a local support group _________________ (fill in with links to local groups in their area)

Questions to ponder to help you figure out what homeschooling will look like for you, and to help you figure out how to select curricula and programs to purchase for teaching:
- Why are you considering homeschooling, and what do you hope to get out of homeschooling?
- What are your goals for homeschooling?-- 
- What is your "educational philosophy"? -- (can link to an article like this one (I love the questions in that article), or if you've already written something)
- Does your child have any special needs for learning? -- (learning disabilities? advanced/gifted? mental health or physical health? etc.)
- Will you have any particular needs for teaching? -- (examples: video lessons? "scripted" lessons? a teacher guide? just an answer key? etc.)
- What specific questions do you have?


I've talked to (or emailed) with "interested in" people often enough to realize that it's best to start off slow with just short answers to their actual questions. Otherwise, they are overwhelmed with too much info that they don't yet know whether or not they even need, and they don't yet have the knowledge about homeschooling to know how to sort through all the info to find what they need to know. LOL. And many times, I find these people are only "casually interested," so sending them a ton of information is a waste of *my* time. Again, I find it helpful to start off by asking things like: "What exactly did you want to know?" Or, "Were you looking for something specifically, such as 'How do you homeschool?' Or, 'Where do I get the curriculum?' Or 'what exactly does homeschooling look like?' "

Edited by Lori D.
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The thought of writing it all down in an email makes me feel overwhelmed!  😄  I tend to have people over for coffee and let the kids play while we chat.  It's so much easier on my brain.

If I had to send an email, though, it would be similar to what Lori suggests. Between the back and forth, though, I'd be inclined to add some links to some of the old "day in the life" compilations that blogs used to do so that they could see how homeschooling worked in a variety of ways with different settings and number of kids.

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43 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

The thought of writing it all down in an email makes me feel overwhelmed!  😄  I tend to have people over for coffee and let the kids play while we chat.  It's so much easier on my brain.

If I had to send an email, though, it would be similar to what Lori suggests. Between the back and forth, though, I'd be inclined to add some links to some of the old "day in the life" compilations that blogs used to do so that they could see how homeschooling worked in a variety of ways with different settings and number of kids.

It is hard! I have a lot of teachers in my circle of family and friends, but I'm the only homeschooler. Which means they think of me first when anyone they know mentions homeschooling. They are not all local, so email has been a necessity. I talked to one on the phone for a couple of hours, but then there's the chance they didn't get to write something down. I figured at least with email, they could reference back to it whenever they want.  

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5 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

The thought of writing it all down in an email makes me feel overwhelmed!  😄  I tend to have people over for coffee and let the kids play while we chat.  It's so much easier on my brain.

If I had to send an email, though, it would be similar to what Lori suggests. Between the back and forth, though, I'd be inclined to add some links to some of the old "day in the life" compilations that blogs used to do so that they could see how homeschooling worked in a variety of ways with different settings and number of kids.

This was one of my biggest curiosity points when I was considering making the leap. I had two babies and a middle schooler and couldn't really wrap my head around how any of this was going to work. I knew no one IRL who had done it (or even thought it sane), I wasn't on Facebook, and what I wanted was to see how it actually worked- not just "here, do this". I was perusing blogs like crazy to see what *real* people and not the books they were using were like initially- I needed to know the rhythm to the day- that sort of thing.  I think there were more good blogs then- that's before IG hit and i think everyone went there. I feel like good homeschool blogs are few and far between anymore. Oh and there was that lady on the Pioneer Woman site that had the homeschooling section there- not Ree, but another lady that lived here in Texas. I read that all the time until they took the homeschooling section away. 

Plum, I think it's super nice you are doing what you are. And Lori D and HomeAgain too. I wish I'd had people like y'all to go to back then! Sometimes I think people jumping in just need another person to talk to as much as anything. Someone who doesn't say "you're nuts!" or argue with you. It's exhausting defending a new choice a lot of times, no matter what it is, so having an experienced person in that arena always helps! 

Maybe throw in where some conferences are if these are local people and you have local ones. Or something like GHC. We'd probably never have started if we hadn't had a conference to go to first. 

 

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2 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

This was one of my biggest curiosity points when I was considering making the leap. I had two babies and a middle schooler and couldn't really wrap my head around how any of this was going to work. I knew no one IRL who had done it (or even thought it sane), I wasn't on Facebook, and what I wanted was to see how it actually worked- not just "here, do this". I was perusing blogs like crazy to see what *real* people and not the books they were using were like initially- I needed to know the rhythm to the day- that sort of thing.  I think there were more good blogs then- that's before IG hit and i think everyone went there. I feel like good homeschool blogs are few and far between anymore. Oh and there was that lady on the Pioneer Woman site that had the homeschooling section there- not Ree, but another lady that lived here in Texas. I read that all the time until they took the homeschooling section away. 

Plum, I think it's super nice you are doing what you are. And Lori D and HomeAgain too. I wish I'd had people like y'all to go to back then! Sometimes I think people jumping in just need another person to talk to as much as anything. Someone who doesn't say "you're nuts!" or argue with you. It's exhausting defending a new choice a lot of times, no matter what it is, so having an experienced person in that arena always helps! 

Maybe throw in where some conferences are if these are local people and you have local ones. Or something like GHC. We'd probably never have started if we hadn't had a conference to go to first. 

 

Good points! I will try to track some of those down....and maybe update my poor neglected blog with some day in the life of posts of my own. 

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3 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

...And Lori D and HomeAgain too. I wish I'd had people like y'all to go to back then! Sometimes I think people jumping in just need another person to talk to as much as anything. Someone who doesn't say "you're nuts!" or argue with you. It's exhausting defending a new choice a lot of times, no matter what it is, so having an experienced person in that arena always helps! ...


Yes, I LOVE sitting down and talking homeschooling with moms just starting out or who are at the "is this even a possibility stage"! A few years ago it was a lot of moms thinking of switching to homeschooling for middle school or high school. The past few years, it's new moms -- several of home were homeschooled themselves! Their moms all used Abeka and traditional "school at home" things with them, so they are all excited to learn about the explosion of new things. And, I am happy that I keep up with what everyone on these boards uses so that I can I can fun sharing about the things, as well as all the eclectic things we did... 😄 

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I usually recommend the first few chapters of Cathy Duffy's book - they really helped me define what my goals were and what my philosophy was and my teaching style and my kids' learning styles when I was starting out. Every few years I go back and revisit it just to see where I/theyhave changed.

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Plum,

You've got to put in SWB's Day in the Life homeschooling bits.

Very inspiring.  🙂

I loved reading those when my 3 oldest boys were small.  Her realistic and funny descriptions of an average day of trying to balance it all were (and still are) priceless. 

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I would try to be encouraging but as realistic as possible, perhaps describing how home school takes money, time, and expertise/knowledge. You absolutely don't need gobs of all three, but you do need at least one, and two is helpful. Or the other way people say it, that you have to choose 2 of 3 with quality, ease, and cheapness. 

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9 hours ago, Pen said:

A link to this WTM website 😃

I do! 🙂

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FOR HELP WITH CURRICULUM:   The Cathy Duffy reference and book (with notes that you can find it used but it's had different names), and the advice that whatever curriculum you use it will move your forward, and give you a better idea about how you learn and how you teach.

I would include a link to a site with state rules of whatever state they are in, and if they are local to you include links to any homeschooling groups you know about.

And I'd include information about how you can get much more done in a shorter period of time in homeschool...and that, most homeschoolers don't try to fill a full homeschool day.   I'd share about what a day looked like for you at the ages their kids are at, and add to that "but every homeschool varies some on this." 

 

 

 

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