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How to Start Homeschooling: A Foolproof Guide
Have you decided to homeschool, but are now wondering how to even get started? There is so much information to figure out and too many experts telling you what you should do. Take a deep breath. Here’s how you to start homeschooling without the stress, worry, or overwhelm.
Begin by brainstorming all the reasons you want to homeschool. Then look over the reasons and pick your top three. Your why will help you to keep going when things are hard, and it will guide you in making decisions about curriculum, methods, and activities.
The most powerful whys are usually about more than giving your children a great education, though of course we all want to do that. Consider what you want your family relationships to look like. Think about the type of people you hope your children will become. Education is about the whole child—heart, mind, and soul. Does your why reflect your deepest desires for your children?
Your Educational Priorities
What do you believe about education? It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to replicate how we grew up learning instead of taking a step back and asking what is best for our unique children. Your educational priorities should correspond to why you are homeschooling in the first place.
Over time this may change as you learn more, but let yourself dream a little here. Based on your local and state requirements, you may have to study certain subjects—but there will be a lot of freedom in what covering those subjects will look like for your family.
State Homeschooling Requirements
The good news is that homeschooling is legal throughout the United States. However, each state has different requirements for homeschool families, so you’ll need to do a little research to find out what you need to do to comply with your state laws.
Thankfully, there is a great resource for easily figuring out what your state requirements are when you start homeschooling—HSLDA: Homeschool Laws by State. Some states are definitely easier than others to homeschool in, but if you find that your state requires more don’t let that deter you. You can find other homeschoolers in your area to help you understand what it looks like in a practical way.
Your Childrens’ Learning Styles
Learning styles are the ways your children learn best. Some need to hear it, some need to see it, and some need to do it. We categorize these styles as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. There are those who add more, but we like to keep things simple.
How do you know what your children’s learning styles are? You watch your kids. You see how they respond, remember, and prefer to receive information. You probably already have an idea, but if not you can still get started homeschooling. As you do though, make note of when a lesson seems to stick better than others.
The good news is, when you incorporate a variety of styles in your students’ lessons, you will know they always get some of what they need.
Different Homeschool Philosophies and Methods
There are a lot of different ways to homeschool, and everyone tends to think their way is the best way. That’s why we think it’s important for you to consider why you are choosing to homeschool, what your educational priorities are, and how your kids learn before you dig into the various philosophies and methods.
And it’s why we advise you to spend some time learning about homeschooling before investing a lot of money in any particular curriculum.
Some of the most popular ones include:
- Charlotte Mason
- Unit Studies
- Biblical Principle Approach
- Child Led or Interest Led Learning
We explain a little more about each of these in our Quick Start Guide to Homeschooling (and we’re giving it away FREE!).
But we have to stop here and highlight our favorite way to homeschool…Eclectic!
Eclectic homeschooling means you pick and choose instead of committing fully to one philosophy or method. You aren’t just dating around, though. You are still in a serious relationship here!
Eclectic homeschooling means you know that your children are unique and you may need to choose from different methods based on the subject you are teaching, the season of life you are in, personal preferences, and your unique child’s needs. With eclectic homeschooling, you truly customize your children’s education.
Homeschool Mission Statement
Mission means a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling. Therefore, a mission statement is born out of your why. It will guide you on your homeschool journey and help you stay on track, eyes firmly fixed on your goals.
You can look to your homeschool mission statement when you need to make decisions about what you will do, when you will do it, and just as importantly—what you won’t do.
Plans & Schedules
You may have heard this quote before:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
We believe a homeschool without a plan is just a hot mess. That plan can come in the form of a schedule or routine. It can be flexible and adaptable to your personality. But intentionality is important if you want to educate your children at home!
Plans keep us on track when life gets in the way (and inevitably it will!). Plans give feet to our mission, providing a roadmap of how we will get to our destination.
A Love of Learning
I’m guessing you didn’t choose to start homeschooling to make your kids miserable. When we love something—when we find it interesting—we want to know more. Real learning requires motivation and that’s a lot harder when we dislike what we are doing.
Yes, there are subjects we learned about in school that we didn’t like. We may have even earned good grades in them. But I can’t help but wonder how well we really learned it as opposed to just getting through it.
Every subject will not be your children’s favorite. They will naturally like some more than others. However, we have the opportunity to create an atmosphere and choose a way to homeschool that is conducive to maximum learning.
Make building your relationships with your children a priority, even if that means setting aside your teacher hat at times. Schedule regular family nights, snuggle on the couch to read aloud, enjoy one another.
You won’t homeschool your children forever—though there may be days where it feels like it. But long after your homeschooling days are over, you are still your kids’ mom (or dad).
Ongoing education. Public school teachers invest years in training from college to ongoing education. So why not make an investment in your own “teacher education”? Not only will you become better at this whole homeschooling thing, you’ll show your kids what it means to be a life-long learner. We also believe it makes homeschooling more fun and fulfilling for you!
We’ve listed some of our favorite resources for a solid teacher education in The Best Homeschooling Books to Start With.
Self care. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. And when you run a marathon, you have to fuel yourself if you don’t want to run out of gas before you get to the finish line.
We share some ways to prevent burnout, as well as what to do if you are beginning to feel it, in How to Avoid and Conquer Homeschool Burnout Today. It is possible to homeschool with all of its demands and actually enjoy doing it!
You also need encouragement, support, and community. At Homeschool Mastery Academy, we want to give you all three.
Get Started Homeschooling Today
We have good news for you: You can get started without having everything figured out! We’ve created the Quick Start Guide to Eclectic Homeschooling that helps you step by step.
But even as you work through these steps, you can jump into learning with your kids.
We love the idea of having a routine, especially when you start homeschooling. Fill your days with educational activities that help cultivate a love of learning while strengthening your relationships. You want your kids to want to homeschool.
For example, your day might look something like this :
- Read Aloud
- Language Arts Skills
- Exploration: Subjects like science, history, geography, art, and music—you don’t have to do each one every day of the week. But set some time aside each day to enjoy learning about the world around you.
Notice, there are no specific times. You can simply move from one thing to the next in the order that works for your family. You can get more ideas for routine in our article 6 Homeschool Routine Ideas Guaranteed Not to be Boring.
We also extensively cover the cost of homeschooling here if you want to see how it can fit into your budget.
So jump into eclectic homeschooling today! We know you’re going to love it.