Thinking about homeschooling? Here are 100 things you need to know to get started homeschooling. Gain confidence and know-how with this comprehensive list.
100 Things You Need to Know to Get Started Homeschooling
Confusion and overwhelm are the biggest things that intimidate new homeschoolers. There are so many things to remember, consider, and plan. If you don’t know where to start and have no one else to ask, here is a list of things you need to know to get started homeschooling. The most important things to remember are:
- You can do this.
- Sort out the “how’s.”
- Check the requirements.
- Take action.
- Choose curriculum.
- Seek out support.
Remembering those six things are the key to a successful homeschool year. They may seem overwhelming, but they eventually become like second nature. You’ll find that homeschooling feels natural once you get past the newness of it.
You can do this.
One of the biggest hurdles is coming to the realization that you can homeschool your kids. There is nothing holding you back than your own belief in yourself and trusting in your own capability. We’ve been trained as parents to hand our children off to others, and that “it takes a village.” Yes, it’s nice to give the responsibility for our child’s education into the hands of a teacher. Once you start homeschooling, you may daydream of putting your children on a school bus and sending them off for 6-10 hours per day. Admittedly, it’s a blessing to have a “village” to lean on. It’s hard to do it all yourself, and you will always need others for support and relief. But when it comes down to it, you realize that YOU are really the only one who can truly meet the needs of your child with pure love and devotion. And that makes you their best teacher.
- Know that you are capable of homeschooling your children.
- Know that you don’t have to have a teaching degree to homeschool your kids successfully.
- Figure out your WHY. Why are you homeschooling?
- Decide what’s most important for your family’s schooling.
- Decide what time of day is best for homeschooling in your family. Mornings may not always be best for some families.
- Learn to be flexible when it comes to your schedule and plan.
- Know that you don’t have to have extra patience to homeschool, you simply need to have a desire to help your child learn in a way that is best for them.
- Remind yourself over and over again that you are not perfect and will mess up.
- Remind yourself over and over again that you will not ruin your kids.
- It’s a good idea to develop a sense of humor about homeschooling.
- Know that you don’t have to stop working in order to homeschool your children. You can work while homeschooling.
- Read lots of books that talk about how to homeschool.
Sort out the “how’s.”
Confidence is only the beginning. You truly DO need to know “how” to do this. However, you don’t have to go about guessing and stumbling. Winging it doesn’t work, and never ends well. There are an amazing number of resources available to help you, guide you, train you, support you, and encourage you. You just need to know where to find them. Then, you must lean on these resources for wisdom and direction.
- Talk to your spouse and kids about whether homeschooling is best for your family. Address any objections they might have.
- Homeschooling is a legal educational choice in all 50 states.
- Learn about different homeschooling methods to understand what will work best for your family.
- Learn how to transition from public school to homeschool if you are leaving the public school setting.
- If any of your children have already attended school, research the concept of deschooling.
- Figure out the learning styles of your children.
- Practice telling your friends and family that you will be homeschooling. Prepare yourself for the questions and criticism.
- Decide if you will school year-round or follow the public school calendar. Mark the dates of your breaks on a calendar.
- Decide if you will homeschool 4 days a week or 5 days. Which days will you take off?
- Learn the various homeschooling words which are often used by other moms, bloggers, and educational enthusiasts.
- Discover the importance of teaching your children to be self-led, independent learners.
- Know that true education isn’t about grades, it is about gaining the ability to learn, think, and reason for one’s self.
- Understand that you cannot possibly teach everything. And that’s OK.
- It’s OK to seek help from others.
- Develop a tough skin when it comes to what others think of homeschooling.
- Be able to set limits for yourself, your kids, your plan, and your family.
- Understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to homeschool in pajamas if that’s how your family is most comfortable.
Check the requirements.
All states have homeschool requirements, and there are legal ramifications if you don’t meet those requirements. Make sure you are committed to doing what you are supposed to do. Educational neglect is a real thing, unfortunately, and recommendations and requirements exist to support and monitor us. We all want protection for all children’s well-being. Caring parents will work hard to follow all local guidelines and laws. You have nothing to fear from agency or government oversight if you’re doing the right things. It’s best to consider recommendations as well as cooperate and be diligent to honor all legal authority.
- You will need to have a desire to homeschool your child.
- In order to get started, you’ll need to understand and know your state’s homeschooling laws.
- Know what subjects your children are required to learn in your state.
- Submit any needed documentation to your school district.
- If your state requires an annual assessment by a certified teacher, you can find one by Googling your city or county and homeschool assessments.
- You are not required to prove homeschooling success to your relatives, friends, or neighbors.
- It’s important for the homeschool teacher to actively manage self-care.
- Know that you can homeschool a special needs child and be able to meet their unique needs.
- Learn how to homeschool when you have multiple ages in the home.
- Know that a child can be proficient in one area and struggling in another and that it is perfectly normal.
- Realize the only experts on your own children are their parents.
- Develop a good daily routine for your family.
This section describes things that are good to do in preparation for homeschooling. They involve planning ahead and doing what it takes to be ready for that first day of home education.
- Remember that it is important to give each child an individualized education, but you can still complete some subjects as a family.
- Set aside time to research, develop your own ideas, and plan for your homeschooling.
- Develop your researching skills and understand that the internet is a great tool, but there are other resources as well.
- Consider joining HSLDA to protect your family and your homeschool.
- Write out your family’s mission statement.
- Consider testing your children with the Online California Achievement Test (CAT) to determine what grade level they should really be in. This will be helpful if you want to pick-n-choose your curriculum for different subjects.
- Set up your homeschool area. Try not to recreate a classroom at home.
- Purchase your essential homeschool supplies, such as homeschool ID cards, notebooks, pencils, and math manipulatives.
- Create or utilize a homeschool planner to keep track of attendance, reading records, grades, etc. Be sure that you are keeping track of everything that your state requires.
- Begin an annual portfolio so that your children can look back on what they’ve learned.
- For high school students, begin researching college requirements for any university you are considering.
- Begin a transcript or a plan for how to keep one if you have high schoolers.
- Create easy breakfast and lunch menus for homeschool days.
- Discover what seasoned homeschool families have discovered about second breakfasts.
- Have a plan for incorporating housework into your homeschooling routine.
- Buy coffee! Or if you aren’t a coffee drinker some form of caffeine or energy boost to help you get going during the day.
- You’ll need books, lots of books, for read-alouds, independent reading, fun reading, assigned reading.
- Speaking of reading, you’ll need a library card.
This seems like a daunting task for beginners. However, it’s the easiest one you’ll need to complete. Your curriculum choice is based on your own personal and family preferences. Therefore, asking for advice and recommendations from others is helpful, but ultimately, you need to choose what’s best for YOU and your own family. Each family is different, and only you can figure out what will work best in your unique household and children’s abilities/interests.
- Know that the curriculum should not be the master of your plan. It is simply a guide to move you forward while you are in control of what the plan will look like.
- Set a curriculum budget.
- Know that expensive does not always mean better when it comes to buying curriculum.
- Request curriculum catalogs from well-known companies.
- Read curriculum reviews.
- Understand that curriculum can encompass a variety of learning materials and not just books and worksheets.
- Learn about notebooking and how to easily incorporate it into any subject.
- Ask your children if they prefer digital or physical books.
- Ask your children to make a list of topics they would like to learn. This will come in handy if you want to do unit studies.
- Add in a few electives so your children can explore their passions.
- Plan out your general scope and sequence for the year.
- Roughly plan out the first few weeks of your curriculum. Don’t plan too far ahead at first, because you never know how things might change as a new homeschooler.
- Open a Pinterest account, or set up a few new boards so that you can begin saving ideas to help make your homeschool fun and engaging.
- Create a list of family read-alouds for the year.
- Create a few YouTube playlists full of educational videos.
- Fill up your Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix queues with educational videos.
- Figure out what are appropriate free-time activities for your kids to do during breaks.
- Figure out how to incorporate physical activity into your school days.
- Learn how to incorporate games into your regular homeschooling routine.
- Plan to incorporate plenty of free play into your homeschooling days.
- Create a plan for managing field trips into your routine.
- You will want to learn how to take advantage of local field trip opportunities when public school students are in school.
- You can consider and incorporate outsourced education into your homeschool plan.
- Consider utilizing online courses to help you educate your children.
- Purchasing a curriculum is not absolutely necessary. Consider project-based learning as an excellent alternative.
- Know that it is absolutely OK to change curriculum mid-year if what you purchased isn’t working well for your child.
Seek out support.
As mentioned above, it really does take a village. We can’t do this alone. We need each other! Find one or two homeschool mom that you have some things in common, and lean on each other for encouragement and insight. Find ways you and your children can offer your talents, as well as receive support for your needs within your local homeschool community.
- Look into local and online extracurricular activities.
- Consider joining a co-op or a club.
- Join a few Facebook groups that offer homeschooling support.
- Subscribe to a few inspirational homeschool blogs or newsletters.
- If the dates are convenient, attend a homeschool convention.
- Don’t forget that learning takes place in many situations. Discover how to incorporate real-life learning as part of your homeschooling.
- Have a talk with your close friends about the idea of homeschooling. Be prepared to answer the pros and cons of your choice.
- Read a few blog posts about the day in the life of a homeschooler. These may help broaden your idea of what a homeschool life is really like.
- Choose a mentor. Find someone you look up to and watch them. Ask them for advice if they are available, and begin with their tips and tricks for support and encouragement.
Socialization is a big question and concern for new homeschoolers. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines socialization as:
the process beginning during childhood by which individuals acquire the values, habits, and attitudes of a society
social interaction with others
Nowhere does it say that children must be with their same-age peers day in, day out for 10 months of the year, sitting in a classroom. Nor does socialization mean dealing with bullies, exposure to peer pressure, or learning how to walk in a straight line.
However, it’s interesting to note that the second definition for socialization is:
the action or process of making something (such as an industry) socialistic: conversion to collective or governmental ownership and control
Hm… that doesn’t really sound like what you were thinking, does it? In fact, you can make your own definition of socialization in your homeschool. True socialization isn’t found in a dictionary – or within the 4 walls of a classroom. True socialization is learning how to be a good citizen, forming and nurturing friendships, and having healthy interactions with others who are similar or different from us.
- What does good socialization mean to you? Determine right now to teach those values, character traits, and behaviors to your children purposefully.
- Know that socialization is a concept that children learn through active engagements within their community. It is not a public school construct.
- Socialization doesn’t just mean “having friends who are the same age as you” or “learning how to deal with bullies.” Challenge yourself to dispel and replace those ideas with more realistic, real-life socialization in the home, the workplace, and social hobbies/pastimes.
- Learn to be OK with being different from the expectations of others.
- Will you make a purposeful effort to provide socialization for your children? If so, where will you commit to participation? (Church activities, playdates, co-op classes, meetups, sports, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs (for teens), and volunteer work are typical options)
- You’ll need a good tribe of other homeschooling families for both yourself and your children.
Guess what? Homeschooling can actually be fun in so many ways. And one of the best ways is when you see the spark of understanding in the eyes of your child as they learn new concepts. The final, and most important, thing to do is this: Buy yourself a special gift for making such a wonderful decision for your family! Trust me, you deserve it!
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