More and more people are asking us, “How do I research homeschooling if my kids aren’t school age?” Sometimes their children aren’t even born yet, but they’re still wondering how to prepare for the right time.
If you’re one of these uber-prepared parents, congratulations! It’s never too early to start.
You are your child’s first teacher, and you have the added benefit of many years to research homeschooling without any pressure to enroll immediately in co-ops, buy curriculum, or hunt for graduation supplies!
These super helpful ways can help you prepare for homeschool during the first years of your child’s life:
Sign up for free HSLDA preschool membership.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provides free membership to parents of preschoolers.
What’s a preschooler? According to their requirements, it’s any child under 5 years old. (You just need to provide HSLDA with their birthdate, and HSLDA will continue your membership until your child’s fifth birthday.)
That means that you can sign up on the day your child is born!
Here are just some of the benefits of membership (you can read more on their website):
- Email and phone access to their team of legal staff for any legal concerns about homeschool (and this includes the years when your child is age 0-5)
- A “Toddlers to Tweens” consultant to answer questions such as getting started, learning styles, lesson planning, curriculum choices, and more
- Help with diagnosing and addressing special needs (if applicable to your family)
- Subscription to HSLDA’s Home School Court Report magazine
- Email alerts on homeschool issues at local, state, national, and international levels
- PerX program offering discounts on insurance, school supplies, hotels, and more
- Discounts on HSLDA Store products
We also offer discounts on HSLDA annual membership. Just make sure you reference our MPE group number when the time comes to join or renew your MPE membership!
Look up homeschool laws in the area you plan to live in for the next few years.
If you’re in Kansas, you can wait until your child’s seventh birthday before you register your homeschool as a non-accredited private school. (See our step-by-step guide for Kansas homeschools here.)
If you’re in Missouri, the law is to declare homeschooling when your child is “compulsory age,” which starts at age 7 when the school term begins.
However, if you’ve already enrolled a 5- or 6-year-old in public school, they have become subject to compulsory attendance. To start homeschooling, you must request in writing that your child be withdrawn from public school.
(Learn more about Missouri homeschool laws in this interview with HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff.)
As always, laws can change at any time. So we encourage you to keep monitoring the legal homeschool requirements in the years before your child reaches school age.
Build your support network of homeschool moms.
The best support networks are those closest to you! Not just virtual networks, although these certainly have their place.
Ideally, your support network will consist of fellow homeschool moms who are so close that they can call you, meet you weekly (or even several times a week!), share life with you, and pray for you.
Building this type of network takes time. Maybe even years. So here are a few places to start:
- Homeschool Hookup Christian Facebook group. A closed subset of this Facebook group (contact the administrator, Jennifer DeLuca, for more details) meets Friday afternoons for “Park Days” during much of the school year.
- Area co-ops and opportunities. We have a page of area co-ops and homeschool enrichment groups you can check out. If you know of any others that aren’t on this list, let us know!
- Support groups for MPE members. When you sign up for MPE membership, you’ll receive access to our full list of area support groups and clubs (some have requested not to be disclosed publicly online for privacy and safety reasons).
Attend our homeschool conferences for free!
We have a special deal for parents of preschoolers: free admission to our spring homeschool conference (a more than $60 value!). This includes access to workshops and the vendor hall.
While you may find some of the material beyond you, we always have a special workshop track for beginning homeschoolers. These will cover the basics of homeschooling and give you a head start on your planning.
You can also attend our mentoring moms room at the conference to have a longtime homeschool veteran answer any questions you may have and offer encouragement as you begin your journey.
Another great place to network at our conference is our nursing moms room. Many of our attendees and volunteers say this is one of the best places to swap curriculum ideas, give and take parenting advice, and research homeschooling quickly!
Consider attending other MPE events.
- Our Women’s Encouragement Day takes place every winter and is our most popular annual event after the conference. Even if you’re not homeschooling yet, you can still attend!
You’ll meet hundreds of moms there, all ready to spend a day of fellowship, prayer and encouragement from special speaker sessions, a moms panel, and a homeschool alumni panel. We also provide refreshments (yes, chocolate!) and lunch.
- Every May our homeschool graduation ceremony leaves first-time visitors amazed and wowed by our graduates and their accomplishments!
The graduation committee plans everything from the pictures and media to the refreshments and decorations. Everything is beautifully organized, yet with a personal touch from each “school” graduating its student.
Feel free to come even if you don’t know anyone there. It’s free and will give you a great sense of what your own homeschool graduation could be like!
- Another great event is our used curriculum sale every June.
Browse the seller tables and ask any curriculum-related questions you have. All the sellers there have great firsthand experience with their products, and are more than happy to share their insights with you!
- Finally, we have how to homeschool workshops every August.
Research homeschooling through learning styles.
As your child grows, take time to understand what “learning styles” are, as well as other homeschool acronyms and jargon you’ll hear. HSLDA has a great introduction to learning styles here.
Explore your own teaching style.
It’s important to take your own teaching style into account, because if all your children are auditory learners while you’re primarily a visual learner, you could be heading for trouble! See Sonya Shafer’s summary of five common teaching styles, or what she calls “flavors,” of homeschooling.
Have we left anything out? Feel free to submit your own suggestions on how to research homeschooling in your child’s very early years!