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Congratulations! You have decided to homeschool! Now the real question… how to start homeschooling?!!
Whether you start from the beginning and need to know the ropes for day 1 or if you are pulling your child out from a public or private school and need to know how to teach them… homeschooling is a big adjustment!
Unless you’ve been homeschooled yourself, you need answers on how to homeschool. Even 2nd generation homeschoolers need answers on how to homeschool!
So I’m here to help you with the basics of how to start homeschooling! I’m a 2nd generation homeschooler (I was homeschooled from 4th to graduation) and I’ve been homeschooling my own kids for 10 years now!
I absolutely love homeschooling and I’ll convert as many people as I can! It’s an adjustment but just like having a baby… if you have someone who can give you some tips and you give yourself some grace, you’ll soon find yourself in a good rhythm and you’ll be a homeschool pro in no time!
How To Start Homeschooling
Step 1: Know Your State’s Homeschool Laws
Every state is different. I wish I could break it all down for you right here but 50 states is a bit much to cover here.
Some states are very easy to homeschool in and some require a bit more hoops to jump through. The laws vary by state so you’ll want to check out the homeschool laws by state from HSLDA.
Once you know your state’s homeschool laws, make sure you do whatever is needed so that you can homeschool.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Homeschool Method
Honestly, you probably won’t known what your actual homeschool method is until you start homeschooling… or even more likely you won’t have things dialed in until you are 5-10 years in.
That said, you can still get a general idea of what homeschool method is likely to work best for you as the parent and for your kids.
You’ll want to take into account the time you have (do you have time you can devote to planning or do you need something that is all planned out for you?), your goals for homeschooling, your child’s learning style, your teaching style, etc.
The most popular homeschool methods are: Classical, Charlotte Mason, School-At-Home, Unit Studies, Unschooling, and Eclectic. You can read about the different homeschool methods in order to learn about the pros and cons to each.
Step 3: Find Your Homeschool People
When you became a new parent, you likely searched for your “people” whether that was a MOPS group or new parent support group or just playdates with fellow parents. Those people helped support you and gave helpful advice to get your through those years.
Homeschooling is no different. You need to find your homeschool people.
You can find these people by joining local homeschool groups whether that is via Facebook, forums, or a flyer in a window. You can join homeschool groups that are focused around a homeschooling method which can be helpful when you are trying to find curriculum for your homeschool method of choice.
Whether you find your homeschool people online or in person… find them. You will want to have these people around to help support and advice you during your homeschool years.
Step 4: Choose Your Homeschool Curriculum
Once you’ve got your homeschool method narrowed down then you can start looking into curriculum. Many curricula is build with a homeschool method in mind for instance Ambleside Online is Charlotte Mason, Memoria Press is Classical, Sonlight is a blend of Charlotte Mason and Classical, Abeka is School-at-Home…
Some subjects are less specific for example you can definitely find Charlotte Mason math curricula but most math books can fit in with many of the homeschool methods. You can learn more about homeschool curriculum in my post: Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum.
Knowing your homeschool method helps you narrow down the many curriculum options. Choosing curriculum is one of the most daunting parts of homeschooling so I definitely recommend joining facebook groups, forums, or in person homeschool groups.
You can find groups specific to certain curriculum publishers or groups specific to certain homeschooling methods.
Once you decided on your homeschool curriculum, you will need to buy it! If you are looking for ways to save your budget then you’ll want to read all about how to cut costs on homeschool curriculum.
Step 5: Sketch Out Your Homeschool Year
This does not have to be set in stone which is one of the benefits to homeschooling! You can plan out your homeschool year and then if you suddenly plan a vacation or have a baby, you can readjust things.
It is good though to get a general year schedule in place before starting the year. This makes it easier to stay on track and make sure you are doing all that you need to be doing (for example, my state requires 180 days of schooling so creating a year schedule is very helpful for me).
There are many ways to schedule your homeschool year. You could stick to the public or private school system or you could follow a year round method. You could start school in January and end in October as oppose to September to June! You can do school just 4 days a week instead of 5. You could do school on a 4 weeks on/1 week off schedule.
There are so many ways to schedule your homeschool year! You can learn more in my post: How to Schedule Your Homeschool Year.
Step 6: Make Lesson Plans
Making lesson plans will vary greatly from family to family. If you choose to use a curriculum that is complete put together for you including lesson plans then you don’t really even need to make lesson plans.
If you did not choose a completely put together curriculum then you will have to make lesson plans in one way or another. Some families buy a physical planner and write it all out by hand. Some families buy a digital planner and type it all in.
Some families create their own planners in Google Drive or Excel even (this is how I do mine. I create a Google Drive for each grade and then insert a table so that I have the days of the week in columns and the subjects in the rows. The best part about this method is that I just make it once and it’s set for all my subsequent kids… unless I tweak some curriculum)
You can choose to make your lesson plans week by week or do them all before the school year starts. Personally, I choose to do them before the school year starts because then I know exactly how many lessons of math we need to do each week to finish the book. If I did it week by week, we might end up not finishing a subject or finishing it 2 months in advance)
Step 7: Decide On A Homeschool Area
Where you homeschool is completely up to your family. Some families have designated spots and others let school happen wherever.
Homeschooling can happen on the living room floor (been there), at the dining room table (been there too!), in a designated homeschool room (just got one!), in a garage, in a yard, in a box, with a fox….. you get the point.
The important thing is to decided where it will happen and make it work. Of course, if you decide to do school in one area and it turns out it was not a good choice then change it! You aren’t bound to stay where you start.
That’s it! You can now start homeschooling!
I will add one more step although it’s not necessary to homeschool I do find it helpful for encouragement and keeping that homeschool fire alive.
Bonus Step: Find Homeschool Inspiration
I highly recommend finding a source of homeschool inspiration, whether it is listening to homeschool podcasts, attending conferences, taking homeschool classes, or reading homeschool books.
These sources of inspiration will help keep you excited to homeschool, encourage you when you are down, and give you advice on how homeschool in amazing ways.