So you’re thinking about homeschooling. Never thought you’d be here, huh? It can feel overwhelming to start homeschool for beginners. But here you are so let’s get a plan in place so you can relax!
Learning will be a lifestyle not drudgery.
Know Your State’s Laws
States have compulsory schooling laws. When you leave public school, there are procedures you must follow to comply with these laws. Start the easy way by googling “homeschooling + (your state).” You’ll get results that most likely include the state department of education and some homeschooling organizations. Check out these sources and make sure that what they are asking makes sense to you. Your local or state homeschooling organization is an excellent resource. They are solely focused on home education.
If your child is currently in public school, make sure to follow the requirements for properly withdrawing them from public school. Don’t just stop showing up. Truancy is a headache. Check out our How We Homeschool section for stories on how families navigate their at-home school, find groups in other states and explore options.
Every state has different requirements. I’ve homeschooled in three states. In each one, I had to file a “Notice of Intent to Homeschool.” Two required nothing further from me and one required standardized testing or a portfolio review. Some states have more involved procedures (New York, Pennsylvania) but don’t let that deter you. Homeschooling is legal in every state and you have every right to pursue it.
You’ve done the legal paperwork and you are ready to get started! Now stop and take a break. Seriously! The transition from school to home is huge and you have to change your thinking and maybe even your child’s thinking to get homeschooling off on the right foot.
Take a vacation from education. Sleep as much as you want, watch shows together, do fun activities but do not try to learn or teach anything. (Spoiler: learning is everywhere all the time. You can’t stop it. Trust me.)
The rule of thumb is one-month of deschooling for every year your child was in school. It depends on the child, though. If your child is coming out of public school demoralized and resistant to anything that resembles learning, it will take longer for them to regain a love of learning. Don’t view this time as unproductive. Let it be a time of rejuvenation for your family.
How will you know when you are done deschooling? You will never be finished, especially if you are a product of the public school system. Most homeschool parents will always worry about tests, grades, comparing and performing. Through deschooling, you can recognize those thoughts as an unnecessary part of home education. Move forward and give them no purchase.
Spoiler Alert: Learning is everywhere all the time. You can’t stop it. Trust me.
Research Education Options
Learn everything you can about the different types of homeschooling: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Interest-Led, Relaxed, Eclectic, and more. There are virtual classrooms, such as Outschool, subject-based Nicole the Math Lady, and full online curriculum, such as Time4Learning.
See what resonates with you. Think of the schooling experience you would’ve loved and recognize if that matches your child’s personality and learning style.
Never be afraid to move away from things that aren’t suited to your child. For example, I love to read. When I have a 500-page book in front of me, and I know there’s a sequel, I can’t contain my excitement. My son is not that way at all. So, for me to choose a literature-based curriculum full of big books and lots of writing would’ve been a hard road for us.
Find What Works
Choose according to your child’s strengths and interests. Homeschooling is a customized education.
The amount of curriculum available for homeschoolers is impressive. It can also be overwhelming. If you have something you are interested in, see if there is a free sample or trial available. I weeded out many things, and saved considerable cash, by downloading sample documents and finding if they were right for us or not.
Never be afraid to move away from things that aren’t suited to your child.
Reach out to your local homeschooling community to make connections. Check out groups and co-ops and classes. Homeschoolers are not a homogeneous group. We choose this option for many varied reasons so you’ll have to identify your “why” and find people that have the same vision.
Facebook Groups are a great way to find local homeschooling families.
If you aren’t finding a group that fits, start your own. Chances are other people are looking for something similar and would love an opportunity to get involved.
You could start a club for particular interests, organize a field trip (group discounts!), offer a class in a subject, get a group together to form a co-op and offer classes and activities in a variety of areas or just get kids together once a week for social activities.
Have a Good Time
Homeschooling is the most fun. As a parent, homeschooling resparked my love of learning. You’ve given your child the gift of time and they will love that freedom. They will have a childhood that is joyous and pressure free. Learning will be a lifestyle not drudgery. I wish you well on the journey.