I have gotten so many requests to put together an exhaustive post about how to start homeschooling over the years and here I am- FINALLY sharing it! Homeschooling 101!
My husband, Jim, and I were both homeschooled growing up- so we are now officially considered “second generation homeschoolers”. We have been homeschooling our oldest, Abigail, since we started Pre-K with her and she just completed her 2nd grade school year this spring! She will be starting 3rd grade in the fall, beginning our 5th year of homeschooling.
We plan to homeschool our younger children as well someday, but there are still a few years to go before they are officially ready for that!
Anyway, this is a lengthy post filled with basic how to start homeschooling info like:
Where to begin
Why you might choose to homeschool
Different homeschooling styles
Where to find resources and curriculum
Do with this information what you will- the best part of educating your children is that YOU get to choose what that looks like, why you do it, how you do it, and more. I’m not telling you what to do or what is best for your family- just how to get started if that’s what you want!
If you have any more questions or comments- feel free to send me an email. I’d love to chat more!
How To Start Homeschooling:
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to homeschool!
After fending off the repeatedly asked questions such as:
but what about their social life?!!
how can YOU teach them “fill in the blank subject”
don’t you need a degree? are you a teacher? how are you qualified?
Don’t let a lack of confidence or feelings of insecurity take away your peace about the choice your family has made. Do your research, arm yourself with facts and heart, and then use that to knock out any doubts you might be feeling.
Whatever reason you made this decision for, be it; religious reasons, poor public school choices in your area, a desire to be closer as a family, behavioral issues, or wanting to have a say in exactly what your child is taught- knowledge is your best friend.
Where do I begin?
The first part of how to start homeschooling your child should be acquiring any and all information you may need. YOU are responsible for knowing the laws governing homeschooling in your state or county. And, while homeschooling is legal in every state, depending on where you live there are different rules pertaining to records, attendance, subjects covered, etc. Find your state on the HSLDA website and look into the requirements.
These are some of the things you are going to need to gather as much information on as you can while researching state laws:
Daily and yearly attendance requirements– What does your state require? This is a very important and basic piece of information that will affect your homeschool, especially if your state requires a log of daily activities.
Legal Documents– Do you have to turn in any paperwork? Such as a notice of intent. A notice of intent is a document letting the district know your intention of homeschooling and it should include your child’s name, age, residence, and hours of attendance. Find out when you are required to have this submitted by. Typically, whether your child has never been in the public school system or you are transferring them to home, this is required documentation. Most states require this to be re-submitted each year.
Ages of Attendance – Most states do not require school attendance until age 6, but again- will vary from state to state. Also, does your state require documentation or testing after 16?
Curriculum – Do they require you to use a specific curriculum, or the same subjects as the public school system? Some states just require a covering of the basic subjects, while others have no requirements at all.
Testing and Documentation – Do they require a portfolio? Should it be submitted annually or biannually? What is required to be kept in it? Is testing required yearly? Is it a specific test? Some states will allow you to use an alternative option like assessments via a certified teacher.
First, take a deep breath and be confident! You are the mom/dad/guardian and know what is best for your children!
You get the pleasure of finding a curriculum that will fit to your child’s learning style. There are books available on learning styles that you can read, and also some of the curriculum sites have articles written about this. You can read about which curriculum choices we have made for our daughter, Abigail, each year by clicking on the “homeschooling” tab at the top of my blog!
Getting your school calendar together
School calendars can be intimidating at first, but it really is not that hard. There are several ways to do a calendar- you get to choose! You can design it like a regular school year calendar that follows along with your local public school schedule or you can opt for year-round schooling.
But, most importantly, make a calendar that will work for you! It is your school, so plan as you need to.
Pick a start date and have fun!
Reasons To Homeschool
There are so many reasons to choose to homeschool and they will look different for every single family.
For ours? It boils down to one word- freedom.
Freedom of time,
Freedom of schedule.
Freedom to be together.
Freedom to choose what our children are learning.
Freedom to teach them our family values anytime, anyplace.
Here are a few more reasons why you might be feeling compelled to homeschool!
Allowing Your Kids to Follow Their Passions
We’re all more willing to apply ourselves and do our best when we’re pursuing something we actually care about. As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to allow our kids to learn about things they’re passionate about. It’s important that we use that to our advantage.
The possibilities are truly endless and we are missing a huge opportunity if we don’t capitalize on this with our kids.
Choosing Learning Method/Curriculum
Along the same lines, homeschoolers also have the freedom to choose the method of teaching or type of curriculum that will work best for your family as well as for each individual child.
We have the opportunity to teach our kids in whatever way they learn best. Most young children learn well with hands-on activities and experiences. And some of our kids continue to enjoy at least supplementing with these types of lessons well into their teens and beyond. Some kids learn much better listening to audio books instead of reading. Some excel when they are allowed to type rather than having to write things out with a pencil and paper.
As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to observe our kids and present material in a way that will best serve them.
Family Comes First
Another amazing thing about homeschooling is that we are able to emphasize relationships with our kids. There are times when this is difficult (understatement) and when we grate on each other’s nerves. But over time, you’ll find that being together all day is truly such a special blessing- one that we are so grateful for.
Another aspect of this is that we’re able to work our homeschool lessons around anything we need to. Additionally, no homework at night is a huge benefit for us because it allows us to fill that time with anything we want. That time together is priceless!
Real Life Learning
Homeschoolers have more of a chance to work in lessons such as having our kids involved in various household chores, learning to balance a checkbook, creating a budget, changing a tire, making meals, grocery shopping, and so much more!
This real life learning serves our kids well. The more our kids learn these types of lessons, the more prepared they will be to move out and be independent someday.
Moving At Your Child’s Pace
A huge benefit homeschoolers have is that we don’t have to follow anyone else’s timetable when it comes to teaching our children. Some of our kids pick up new information quickly and some of them need to be told things multiple times before it sinks in. Some of our kids will excel at reading but will struggle with math.
We are able to move forward quickly in some areas and more slowly in others as it best benefits our individual children.
Schedules & Routines
We’re all unique individuals. Some of us are morning people and some of us are NOT. Some of us are very regimented and others are more fly by the seat of our pants.
Homeschooling is wonderful because there is room for all of us to operate in whatever way best serves us and our families. If you want to rise early and have your kids complete their lessons right away so that the afternoons are free for exploration of interests, you can do that! If you want to have your mornings free and do the more structured lessons after lunch or dinner, you can do that!
We are also able to follow the traditional school calendar, do 6 weeks on one week off, or any other schedule we’d like to follow as homeschoolers.
We can take vacations off-season, take breaks when the weather is best wherever we happen to live, and take a day off here and there just because we can.
Teach With A Christian Worldview
One of the biggest freedoms we have as homeschoolers is that we are able to use our own personal worldview from which to teach our children. This is so important! We don’t have to be concerned that our kids are learning information or hearing opinions day after day that will slowly erode the faith we’ve been trying to help them to build at home.
This is more important than all of the other homeschool freedoms we have combined. We need to be aware of what’s going on around us in order to maintain these freedoms. And when we see laws proposed which might infringe on this right, we must be willing to speak up and vote.
Homeschooling is best for our family because of the freedom it gives us to teach our unique children and to help prepare them for the life that God has for them as adults.
One of the things I love about homeschooling is the freedom to choose how and what we learn and what style will work for my family as a whole! There is an endless array of curriculum choices and ideas that we can pull from.
There are also many different methods that homeschoolers use in their approach to teaching their children and most of the time it will change as you learn more about what works for your child’s learning styles.
Over the years we have done a mix of traditional, eclectic, and most recently have transitioned into classical learning. Which is where we plan to stay for some time!
Places To Find Resources & Homeschooling Supplies
A quick google search for “homeschool curriculum” yields so, so, so many results! When my parents were homeschooling my brother and I, the options available were not nearly as extensive- or overwhelming!
The good news is- you can’t go wrong with a curriculum. The important thing is that you are teaching your child to LEARN. And when they can do that? No curriculum can mess that up!
If you made it this far- wow! Good for you! You should now have a rough idea how to start homeschooling and of where you are heading, where you want to go, and why you want to go there.
And the best part? Nothing is permanent! You can change things up every day, every year, for every child. As I’ve said before, you know what is best for your family.