These 10 simple steps will help you start homeschooling in no time! Beginning to homeschool your child (children) is not an overwhelming task. Once you have made the decision to homeschool, let me walk you through some simple steps to get you on your way to homeschooling success.
Get your FREE Starting to Homeschool Checklist!
This printable checklist will help ensure you don’t miss any steps on the road to starting to homeschool.
Simple Step #1 – Study the Homeschooling Laws in your State
Each state sets its own laws and requirements for homeschooling. Some states are quite lenient and relaxed in their laws, while others are more stringent. But homeschooling is legal in every state in the US.
Find and read the laws for your state. (Here is a great resource that provides up-to-date, state-by-state summaries for homeschooling laws.) Check out the requirements for your state and follow the correct process to comply with the law.
Simple Step #2 – Withdraw your Child from School (if he has been in any school previously).
Your state homeschool laws will provide information about the process you should follow to withdraw your child from school. Many times, a formal letter acknowledging your intent to withdraw your child on a specific date will satisfy those requirements.
Also, during this process, ask your child’s cumulative file to be sent to his “new” school. If you give your homeschool a name and provide your address as the location of the school, those records can be sent to the school. Or the former school might give you the records to deliver to the new school. Again, follow the laws and procedures for your state (and possibly, district).
Simple Step #3 – Set Up Your Support Network
Homeschooling is not always easy. There will be bad days! Sometimes you need someone who has walked this path before you, someone you can turn to for advice, suggestions, or even a shoulder to cry on. So, set up your support network before you start this homeschooling adventure.
Who should you enlist in this network?
- Start with your spouse. He (or she) should be fully supportive of your homeschooling decision and efforts.
- Find a friend or two who has walked this homeschooling journey before you. Someone who has experience with what you will encounter as you start homeschooling.
- Do you know any teachers or former teachers? They might be the perfect resource for you when you have questions about teaching certain concepts.
- Online groups, forums, homeschool co-op participants, blogs (like this one!), and even books can round out your support system.
Simple Step #4 – Choose and Order your Educational Materials
Time to find those textbooks and workbooks! And there are so many options available! Will you use a curriculum that you are familiar with? Will you choose an eclectic set of resources that you think will work best for your child? Are you part of a co-op and need to use materials that match what the co-op does?
Whether you choose traditional textbook materials, unit studies, eclectic workbooks, or online resources, be sure you cover all the required subjects. (Check those state laws again!) Ask friends for advice, read reviews and suggestions, and study your options, but in the long run, choose what you think will work best for you and your children!
Don’t forget to place that order!
Simple Step #5 – Set Up your School Year Calendar
Take a few minutes to sit down with a calendar and plan your school year. Are you required to have 180 days of school? Do your state laws require a specified number of hours for a school year? Find out! Then work with your calendar and see how to fit those requirements with your schedule. Here are things you should consider and include on your school calendar:
- First and last days of school
- Any events or vacations already scheduled.
- Holidays or planned days off (Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Spring break, President’s Day, and so on)
- Will you take days off for birthdays?
Add all those dates and breaks to your calendar, then see if your scheduled school days satisfy your state’s legal requirements. And if not, make the necessary adjustments.
Simple Step #6 – Establish your Daily School Routine (Schedule)
Instead of planning a schedule, I prefer using a daily routine. Is there ever a day that goes exactly according to plan? Not in my house! Any set schedule is often destroyed before breakfast! Ease the stress of schedules and follow a daily routine instead.
A daily routine will allow flexibility and adjustments based on things you can’t control. An important phone call could destroy a schedule, but you can pick up where you left off by using a routine. And if all the kids are having a grand time contributing to a discussion about pyramids and Egyptian hieroglyphics, why ruin the moment because the clock says it’s time to move on to math?
So, set up your routine. After breakfast, everyone does twenty minutes of chores, then gathers for school. Decide the order of subjects to follow each day (or most days). Set a time frame for lunch. Then continue with your order of school subjects. Ease the time crunch and the stress of the clock by going with a routine for your days.
Simple Step #7 – List and Collect (Buy) all the necessary School Supplies
What school supplies do homeschoolers need? That may vary depending on the age of the student, the number of students, the curriculum you choose, and the teaching methods you will use. You can often get by with simple basics you may already have, such as pens, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, spiral notebooks, scissors, glue sticks, and maybe 3-ring binders.
I have found a personal copier to be a huge help in homeschooling! Individual computers or tablets will be an asset if your kids are doing any online classes. High schoolers will appreciate the use of computers for research and writing papers. Older students may also need a graphing calculator. Just a note – not all graphing calculators are accepted for use on ACT or SAT tests. So, if you are buying an expensive graphing calculator and you expect your kids to take one of those tests, plan on purchasing an allowable calculator. The websites for each test list the calculators that are allowed to be used for the tests.
Also, don’t forget the school supplies you need as a teacher! Whether that includes red pens, stickers, lesson plan books or software/apps, or specialty coffee, be sure to add those things to your list!
Simple Step #8 – Lesson Plan
What are lesson plans? They are like a road map for your teaching: what you plan to teach when, how long you will spend on a chapter, how many days for reviews or tests, if you plan to finish the book in one school year, etc.
If you can create an overall plan for each subject for the school year, you will be more likely to accomplish those academic goals. Start big with the lesson plans, and then work your way down to the everyday plans.
What should you include in daily or weekly lesson plans? I would suggest that you list out the pages, concepts, or assignments you want to cover each day and also make notes about anything you need to prepare for that assignment. That might include making copies of something, writing the guidelines for an assignment, or picking up food dye for a science experiment.
Simple Step #9 – Prepare your Kids for a New School Year
Let your kids know when school will start. Give them a bit of advance notice that their life of ease will be ending soon, and school will begin! If you want them to get up earlier when homeschooling begins, then help them transition into that by waking them a few minutes earlier each day.
If homeschooling will be new for your family this fall, then be sure your kids understand what is happening. Explain what you are planning, why you think homeschooling will help them, and prepare them for change. If your kids are used to going to school with their friends, the transition to homeschooling may not be a welcome change. Give them some time to get used to this new idea.
Simple Step #10 – Start Your School Year!
Stick to your plan and start your new school year on time. Let me suggest that you make your first day of homeschooling fun and exciting. Have a party, start a read-aloud book, and pass out new school supplies. Let your kids decorate their notebooks, their desks, or schoolroom. Play a couple of educational games. Talk about what they will learn this year. Make it a fun day!
And if the kids aren’t excited about this new adventure of homeschooling? That’s OK. There will be days when you aren’t excited about it, either! Just keep going, one day at a time, and always look for and celebrate progress.
Starting to homeschool is a big change! But don’t let the process overwhelm you. If you follow these simple steps, you should be ready to go when it’s time for your first day of school. Planning and preparation are your two best friends when it comes to homeschooling. You can do this!
Don’t forget to grab your free checklist!
Check out these additional posts for more information about starting to homeschool: