This post is for those of you who have recently made the decision to homeschool. Maybe you have a child who will be entering Kindergarten soon. Or maybe you have finally decided to step out of the system, take the plunge, and give homeschooling a try. You’ve been drawn to homeschooling for so long, but have not been brave enough to dive in head first…until now. You want to know how to start homeschooling when you have no idea what you are doing! These 5 steps will help you start homeschooling today.
Video: How to Start Homeschooling (When You Have No Idea What You Are Doing!)
#1 Familiarize Yourself With the Homeschool Laws in your state.
This is one thing that keeps so many people from going for it. They are not sure how to break into the homeschool realm and doing it legally seems intimidating. Let me assure you, it’s not as hard as you think! It is like anything else. Taking those first few steps are the hardest part. Most states have made it fairly easy to homeschool. Even in my state of Pennsylvania-which is considered one of the states with more hoops to jump through- once you know what is required, it’s not really all that hard.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association website is a wealth of information for new homeschoolers. On this page you can choose your state to see the specific requirements and steps you need to take to start homeschooling in your state.
Don’t put it off! Find out specifically what is required to homeschool in your state and get started with the process. Once you have things in place, you can do what you want to do most…start homeschooling your kids!
#2 Find a Community of Other Homeschoolers
This is another way I see so many new homeschoolers flounder. After only one year they are discouraged and feel like it is not working. How can you expect to succeed alone? No man is an island; you need a support system!
Many people love the idea of homeschooling, but it’s so much easier to go with the default public school system that has everything planned and laid out for you. People are afraid that their kids will miss out on drama performances, sports opportunities, a community of peers if they homeschool. These kinds of things are already well established for kids through the school system. Will my kids have friends? Will they miss out on x,y,z…?
When you break in to a community of other homeschoolers, you may be surprised what opportunities are available to your child that you didn’t know were available.
The greater homeschool community is alive and thriving. In our county, homeschoolers have opportunities for drama performances, orchestra, multiple sports, high school prom, a high school graduation ceremony. If you don’t already have booming homeschool support groups in your area, you probably will soon! BUT unless you are in that world, you probably know little to nothing about it.
Find a Local Community of Homeschoolers
While it’s okay to find homeschool support online, a local community of homeschoolers will provide close friendships for you and your kids. I would argue that finding other homeschooling friends is as important for the mom as it is for her kids. As a mom, you need friends who can relate with you in some of the day-to-day scenarios happening in your homeschool. Have play dates in each other’s homes. Meet up for hikes. Visit local events and museums. By doing this, you will learn so much about homeschooling. You will also feel more and more comfortable with your decision to homeschool as you see it working well for so many others. These are some of the things I have learned from other homeschoolers.
- Most popular curriculum choices.
- What works and doesn’t work!
- Common mistakes to avoid.
- How to find a routine for the day.
- Ideas for how to make a workable checklist for the kids.
- Local attractions and how to get the best deals.
- Favorite read alouds.
Find an Online Community of Homeschoolers
An online community of homeschoolers is also beneficial for keeping a pulse on the homeschool world in general. Find out general information on homeschooling, how to problem solve when you have struggles, or just inspiring stories or quotes that will remind you of your purpose and the bigger picture.
In online Facebook groups, members share details about their experiences submitting paperwork to individual school districts. They may also share local homeschool friendly events. It’s a great place to ask questions and to meet friends. Though not having the group option like Facebook does, following other homeschoolers on Instagram may also help you get ideas for your own home. Just beware of the “perfect” profiles that may only cause you to fall into the comparison trap!
#3 Pick a Homeschool Curriculum and Just Start
The best way to find a curriculum is to talk to other homeschoolers. Ask them what they are using and why they like it. There is NO perfect curriculum! Additionally, you really have to use something every day before you will be able to know how well it is working for you and your kids. This is why you should just pick something and start.
For their first year, many parents like to go with an all in one curriculum that lays everything out day by day. Some examples of this would be My Father’s World or Sonlight or Easy Peasy All in One.
One of the most important subjects to pick a curriculum in is math. You can cover almost all other subjects by reading to your kids, but picking a math curriculum is essential. Are you afraid you can’t remember how to divide decimals or add fractions with unlike denominators? Don’t be. You will get a refresher course as you learn along with your kids. In fact, that’s exactly what homeschooling is….learning together!
My all time go-to resource for curriculum reviews is Cathy Duffy Reviews. You can find almost any curriculums out there on this list.
#4 Read to Your Kids. A LOT
Set aside a time (or times) to sit down and read to your kids every day. If you think about it, other than math (which is a skill) and writing (which is the overflow of reading), children learn almost all other subjects through reading. This is why reading to them covers so much ground!
Read to them frequently in small portions throughout the day. Read picture books, chapter books, biographies, fairy tales, fables, Scripture, poetry. Have them listen to audio books in bed at night to help them fall asleep. Read nursery rhymes to preschool and Kindergarten age children. Give independent readers quiet time alone to read to themselves for pleasure.
Are you afraid as you homeschool that you might miss teaching them something important? That they might have gaps in their education? Read to them! Reading covers a multitude of deficiencies.
#5 Don’t Compare Yourself and Don’t Doubt Yourself
Don’t compare yourself to other homeschoolers and don’t compare your kids to what everyone is doing in school. One of the reason homeschooling has become so successful is because it focuses on the unique gifts and interests of the individual child. Rather than lumping a group of kids into one stereotypical developmental benchmark, homeschooling encourages individuality. This is also why colleges find homeschool graduates so appealing. By comparing yourself to what “other kids are doing in school at this age”, you are actually undermining the ONE thing that is turning out highly successful kids!
Because kids can follow their own interests and move at a pace in each area that is comfortable to them, homeschoolers in general enjoy learning. When a children grow up in an environment that fosters their curiousity, they become lifelong learners. You and your child’s individual learning experience IS your success! Don’t take away from it by trying to do what someone else thinks you should be doing! Nurture it!
Don’t doubt yourself. Homeschooling is merely an extension of parenting. You are the expert on your child. The two of you are learning and growing together. No one knows your child like you do. No one has a personal, life-long investment in your child like you have. There is no one who will work harder or search more diligently than you will to find the resources your child needs for their struggles AND their gifts. So move forward and don’t doubt yourself!!
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Don’t be afraid to step out and finally try homeschooling. It just may be the BEST DECISION you ever make for you and your kids. Why do I say that? Because it was for us.
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!
Great article. Thanks for the tips Sheri!
Thank you! You are welcome!!