How To Start Homeschooling
So, you’ve decided to homeschool. Welcome to the club! This journey is very rewarding, but can also be difficult. I know it’s really overwhelming with all the information and choices at your disposal.
This is why I am creating this post. I care about you and your homeschooling journey, so this is a “how to start homeschooling” guide. I will talk you through, step by step and help you get started. On the other side of this post, you will feel so much more confident and have more information to work with.
Don’t be nervous. You can do this!
#1: Figure Out Your State’s Laws
This is not the fun part. I know. You want to jump right to picking curriculum, but we have to do this first. It may influence how you move forward or what curriculum you buy.
Some states are more lenient than others, but homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Some states offer umbrella schools for you to work under. That usually means they provide the curriculum and also offer testing and assessment. Some states offer no assistance, which is actually how I prefer it.
Our homeschooling pioneers fought hard for us to have this luxury. It would be a good idea to read up on some of this history.
This book is not so much about the history of homeschooling, but is an excellent book for understanding the “why”, so I’m including it here.
People went to jail in the very recent 1980’s to fight for us to homeschool. I do not take this lightly and I do my best to honor those pioneers by being a responsible homeschooler.
However, we do not need to bow to the state, either. It’s our job to keep this freedom alive. This is why I prefer to not have the state looking over my shoulder.
To find out what your state’s requirements are, you can go to the Department of Education website for your state. It will tell you what you need to do in terms of paperwork. Some states don’t call homeschooling “homeschooling,” so you’ll want to be aware of that. In Nebraska, they call us “exempt schools.” You may not find the term homeschooling on the website.
Find your state’s requirements here:
As you’re filling out the paperwork, make sure you are only giving the state the information they are asking for and no more.
Again, it’s our job to keep this freedom and we do not want to train the state to ask for more or overstep its boundaries.
If they ask for a curriculum list, just give them a list, no need to attach a scope and sequence or write a novel about your curriculum.
Remember, you are not asking for permission. You are telling the state what you’re doing.
You do not need permission to homeschool.
#2: Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
This is the part you probably want the most information on and tends to be the most fun for homeschoolers.
We love looking at curriculum!
It’s like looking into the never-ending possibilities for our kids. We dream about how much fun we’re going to have with them, or how much we’re both going to learn. Homeschooling curriculum is a different type of shopping, but still hits those shopping nerves in us!
Anyway, you probably want to know which homeschooling curriculum is best. Unfortunately, that is not a question I can answer for you.
You will need to answer that for yourself and your family. I do have a guide on how to pick out homeschooling curriculum and how to make sure it’s a good fit.
Once you go through that, you will have a much better idea of what you’re looking for. Even though it might not be as much fun, you will save yourself a lot of money and frustration if you take the time to think about these questions first. So click over there really quick and read through that. Then you can come back here and finish up.
Which Homeschool Curriculum is Best?
I have a homeschool curriculum review for all the major school subjects. After two decades of homeschooling, I’ve used a lot of different curricula and these are my favorite ones.
Homeschool Writing Curriculum Review: Well Trained Mind
The Best Homeschool Math Curriculum You Don’t Know About
Pandia Press: All You Want to Know About This High School Homeschool History Curriculum
Here’s a list of all the free homeschooling curricula out there!
The Most Trusted Free Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschooling a Highschooler
Just in case you’re homeschooling a high schooler, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a round-up of all the posts regarding that topic. I have a 4-part series all about it!
Part 1: How You Can Fearlessly Homeschool High School
Part 2: Choosing High School Homeschool Curriculum Like a Boss
Part 3: Simple Ways to Homeschool for High School with No Curriculum
Part 4: Secrets to Homeschool High School Transcripts and Credit Requirements
A Daughter’s Musings on Being Homeschooled in High School–my podcast
The Get ‘Em Graduated Toolkit for record-keeping and transcripts
#3: Homeschooling Schedules
The second thing homeschoolers love after curriculum shopping, is figuring out daily schedules and planning. We buy all the cute planners, we create all the schedules, and we peruse the internet for homeschool schedule ideas and ways we can incorporate those into our lives.
I love it too!
While those are all wonderful things, I want to encourage you to think about establishing systems in your home, instead of just schedules. You can still have all the scheduling tools, but this way is a different way to think about how to schedule your homeschooling days.
I have a system for every part of my life that needs to function so I can homeschool. I think of it as engines running a bigger machine, our home.
I have a meal planning system or engine, a chore system or engine, a shower/bedtime system, a laundry system, a homeschooling system and so on.
It helps me to not be overwhelmed with everything I have going on. It also helps keep me balanced so I can do all the things I want to do, like run, homestead and start businesses.
You may still be working full time or have a babies/toddlers, many children, maybe you’re moving or going through some other major life obstacle.
Having systems in place can help you navigate through life in a more peaceful way. Even if nothing is “happening” right now, you can still have systems in place to keep you sane and make sure it’s all getting done.
It took me years to develop my systems, so this will not happen for you overnight. Be patient with yourself.
Homeschooling Schedule Ideas
I talk a lot about creating a homeschool schedule, so I won’t recreate it all here. Here are all of the posts:
#4: Other Homeschooling Resources
This is a category mostly for all the things to think about that go into homeschooling, but don’t really fit anywhere else. It is mindest work, but also practical ideas you can implement. Topics like discipline and deschooling are here. These articles will help you shift your mindset so you can homeschool more effectively.
These topics may not be ones you have considered, so my hope is that you can be prepared for what may come your way on this journey. These will equip you to help you successfully navigate these issues that will come up.
Why Deschooling is a Critical Start to Your Homeschool Journey
Solutions to Homeschooling Problems: Discipline
A Different Way to Look At Socialization in Homeschooling
Podcast: Socialization in Homeschooling
This is a list of products that have helped me tremendously over the years. They are tried and true homeschool essentials, for the 2 decades that I have been homeschooling.
I also chose to include items that people don’t normally think of when they think of homeschooling supplies. I mention homesteading uses for some of these as well, but if you’re not homesteading, just keep scrolling.
Binder for your master/teacher binder
Printables for your teacher binder
White board–this is a shower board from Home Depot. You can have the store cut this to any size you want. It is much cheaper than a traditional white board, lasts for years and you can do so much with them.
Bins with lids for storing books of curriculum
Printer–this is the one I have. I’ve had it for several years and it saves me so much money not using expensive ink
Paper cutter–great for cutting flashcards you buy online or any number of crafting projects
Tab stickers— I have a whole blog post about these!
Plastic shoe bins–use for school supplies to animal first aid kits to storing baby bottles for animals or humans
Mason jars–pencil storage to actual canning and everything in between
Large baskets–perfect for craft supplies
Automatic pencil sharpener–I went through several of these before I found one that lasts. Unfortunately, Amazon is no longer selling them. Here is the exact one I have had for a few years now.
Need some storage ideas? Watch these videos showing how I store my homeschool supplies.
Remember, these homeschooling supplies are ones that I thought were unique or that most people don’t think of that have been game-changers for me over the years. Of course, there are basic supplies, such as pencils, notebooks, and curriculum that I didn’t mention because they are not unique, though very necessary.
You will get this all figured out, I promise!
Beginning to homeschool may seem daunting, but if you just take one thing at a time, one day at a time, you will get there. There is no rush, no need to hurry, no time is being wasted. Even if you’re kids are already home and you feel like you have to start right now because they aren’t learning anything, it’s OK.
We underestimate the amount of learning that takes place just living life. Building a child also means character training, developing self-control and patience in them, and creating daily bonds.
All of that is happening if your kids are home, playing together and living life in the same house.
Take a deep breath and just focus on the next thing and you’ll be great!
Please reach out if you need any more help or advice. I want your homeschool to succeed and I am here for you!