How To Start Homeschooling
When parents are thinking about homeschooling, they want to know exactly “how to start.” That’s such a huge question I’ve actually written a book… or rather, most of a book. It’s about 200 pages and I’m still not quite done! But I still want to write a shorter blog post to help those parents wondering what to do to get started homeschooling.
First things first, make sure you find out the requirements of your state. It’s legal to homeschool in all of the 50 states, just some states require more than others.
Then… jump in!! No one really ever feels completely “ready” to homeschool, but at some point you just jot down a few plans and dig in. You can do it! Believe in yourself! You don’t need multiple degrees to homeschool. Nobody — I repeat — nobody knows your kids better than you do. You know what sets them off, what inspires them, what motivates them. And if you think a lot about it you also know many of their strengths and weaknesses already. With this advantage, YOU are more prepared to help your kids learn than anyone else! The teacher-mentor to student ratio is ideal… 1-to-1, 1-to-2, 1-to-3, 1-to-4… rather than 1-to-25. Another HUGE advantage, right?! You can find amazing teachable moments… whether while reading a book together or going on trips. There’s no one “right” way to homeschool… and with time, you’ll find what works well for your family.
Still feel concerned? Well, many homeschoolers I know use this general process…
1) Plan — Choose a curriculum, choose a subject/unit study. What topics could/will we cover? What basic content will we cover? What books will we use? Write down the fiction and non-fiction books that might work (and check them out from the library.) Figure out how we can make the unit/topic hands-on–projects, experiments, maps (salt maps, pin maps). Think about ways to bring writing into the unit/topic (especially for older kids). Perhaps the kids could create a
- write an editorial
- write a diary entry
- write a newspaper article
- create a play
- have a debate
- write/create a comic strip
2) Jump In and Do It — At some point the planning HAS to stop. You can plan and plan and plan and never feel ready. At some point, you just pick up a book, start reading, start doing projects, start doing problems/experiments/exercises, watch videos and start checking things off the list.
3) Step Back and Evaluate — After a week… or a month… think about how it’s going. Are the kids inspired? Are they learning? Are things going well? Are there tears or power struggles?
4) Tinker and Adjust — If there are problems, don’t be afraid to set the curriculum aside and find another way to tackle the subject. We’ve all done it… switched curriculums mid-stride, scrapped a unit, gone off on tangents. It’s all a journey and the hiccups often make for the best learning experiences.
5) Continue Reading About Homeschooling — There are many different methods of homeschooling. Many homeschoolers start with one method and slowly slide into another. You might be interested in reading how our family has drawn from many of these homeschool methods — classical, Montessori, Charlotte Mason and more. Or just google some of these terms and decide what resonates with you.
6) Remember — Homeschooling does not (have to) look like school. You do not have to cover every subject, every day. You can tinker with what works best for your family… have checklists, workboxes, units of study, reading times, homeschool on the go, follow the kids interests, delve into the classics, travel for a year. No homeschooling family looks the same. It will take time, patience and innovation to see what works best for your family!
Coming up next in the Series: Going back to the planning phase for just a second, I thought I would spend a few posts listing out some of the curriculums that are out there for homeschooling families. These are curriculums that I’ve used or heard about from other homeschoolers over the years. This is not an exhaustive list, but will give you a starting point. Then you can google some of these, read reviews online, and see what might be a good fit for your family. So stay-tuned later this week with some of the curriculums available to homeschoolers.
You Might Be Interested in These Related Posts:
- How Do You Know What to Teach the Kids: Finding a Homeschool Curriculum — More recently I wrote these posts about how we decide which science units, history units and language arts to cover. These posts have my general checklist of topics to cover from K-8: Homeschool Science Checklist, Homeschool History Checklist, Homeschool Language Arts Checklist
- Math Curriculums & Going Beyond the Text – This post includes 15+ ideas for making math engaging and fun!
- Math Worksheets, Game Boards, Lapbook and More – Math materials that I’ve made for my kids and are free on the blog.
- How and Why Did We Get Started Homeschooling?
- How Long Will We Keep Homeschooling? (Homeschooling Through High School)
- Back to (Home)School Shopping List
- What Happens in a Homeschool Day — Our Week or 2 in Review (K, Gr. 3, Gr. 5) — A glimpse into our homeschool (last November) that helps give you a flavor of what our homeschool routine looks like.
- Homeschool Science Curriculum Options — I also suggest you look through the homeschool science topics we (hope) to cover K-8: Homeschool Science Checklist
- Homeschool Preschool Curriculum (Coming sometime in 2016) — Creating a Homeschool Science Curriculum – Ages 4-6
- Science Activities for Ages 4-6 and this similar post: Kindergarten Science (4-6 or so) or Preschool Science at Home or Preschool Science at Home (2-6 year olds) – with printable activities
- Finding a Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum or these more recent posts: Our Homeschool Language Arts, Spelling and Grammar Curriculum or this Homeschool Language Arts: Year in Review and Resources Chart (an amazing post with dozens of our free grammar sheets, etc.) or this Language Arts Update: Literature, Spelling, Grammar and Vocabulary or this Language Arts Checklist
- Choosing or Creating a History Curriculum or this Homeschool History Checklist – with units I hope we cover from K-8 or Homeschool History: Year in Review and What’s Coming Up
- Math Worksheets, Game Boards, Lapbook and More (All Free) – Various worksheets and resources I’ve made for my kids that include themes (that my kids like) such as Pokemon, Pete the Cat, etc.
- Long List of Free Homeschool and Teaching Resources
Other general homeschool posts and homeschool encouragement:
- Creating Daily Homeschool Procedures and Routines
- You can see the Planning Pages (our daily checklist) here in pdf or here as a Word Doc so you can edit and adapt it to your homeschool – Planning Pages Blanks Word Doc
- Thoughts on Teaching: Getting Organized
- 8 Things to Remember about Homeschooling
- What about the Social Aspects of Homeschooling (ie. What about Socialization?)
See you again soon here or Homeschool Den Facebook page. Don’t forget toSubscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl
I really want to homeschool my child but he doesn’t believe anything I say, won’t let me help him in any way, and refuses to do anything I ask of him. He is loving kindergarten but he only likes the social aspects. He doesn’t really like the work. I have it in the back of my head that if or when he starts to be overwhelmed or really upset with school I can take him out and work with him at home. I really think that he would do better one on one and that is what he likes (as long as it isn’t with me!)
Is it hopeless? Or is there a way to homeschool that would allow him to be independent and still learn?
It’s hard to talk about the dynamics your family will have homeschooling, but I can say that my kids aren’t always completely receptive to what we’re talking about. I think that’s why I approach learning from so many different angles… reading books, doing projects, doing science experiments, having discussions, doing worksheets/taking notes, doing lapbooks… if you look through our journey our homeschooling doesn’t look exactly the same from week to week. I suspect that is the same for many families. You have amazing learning moments and other times that are trying (and you fret and worry as the homeschooling parent). At those times, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s a long journey… and try to have confidence that they’ll pick up what they need to know along the way.
There are so many different styles of homeschooling, it may take time to find the style that works for your family. We have homeschooled right from the start, but I know that some families whose kids have been in public/traditional school have had an adjustment period since homeschooling often does not mirror public school. As with any change, there’s an adjustment period. Other homeschoolers have suggested “de-schooling” (when you take a break from the book work and help the kids find spark and passion about learning again, whether that’s by doing a ton of cool science experiments or by going out of field trips).
I know a family that used a virtual school for a lot of subjects. That worked well for them (and they were pretty independent doing that). But I found that for my kids (at that young age), they need a fair bit of guidance from me. They’re becoming more independent as they get older.
I’m not sure I answered your questions… Homeschooling is exciting, fun, creative, and sometimes a bit overwhelming too (just being honest!), but for our family an amazing fit! ~Liesl