How To Start Homeschooling: 10 Things You NEED To Know!

Do you want to create a homeschooling environment that energizes and fulfils you and your children? Don’t have an education degree? Don’t worry. You don’t need one to teach your own children. You just need love, commitment, and perseverance.  I know that to a beginner, homeschooling can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!  Here’s a quick guide to get you started!

1. See what your state requires for homeschooling.

Different states take very different stances on homeschooling: some are super lenient and some, well, some are less so. You’ll want to know exactly what is required before you get started. Check out Homeschool Requirements By State to learn what you need to know.

2. Learn what your Homeschooling Philosophy is.

I know, that sounds a little extra. But it’s not as grandiose as it seems. There are several different methods of homeschooling and it helps to know what best fits your family’s style. But don’t panic! You can always change what’s not working, because… homeschooling! Take this Homeschooling Philosophy Quiz to see what looks like the best fit for you. And once you know that, you can check out our Homeschool Philosophy Spotlight Series to learn more about some of the more prominent methods!

3. Take it slow.

While there are definitely times to be prudent and time efficient, it’s really best to take your time when you begin. Think about the ways your kids learn. For most families, this varies widely. Explore the different ways you can be most effective for their different learning styles. If you’re coming out of public school, it might be a good idea to decompress for a while. Take a few weeks, even months off until you feel everyone is ready to dig in. You may even feel the need to “deschool”  for a period of time, to break any old habits and provide a nice, clean slate for new ones.

4. Don’t try to replicate school at home.

One of the reasons many of us choose to homeschool is because our kids were struggling in school (or public school wasn’t meeting their needs). That’s why it’s so funny when we start homeschooling and we decide to replicate school at home. Homeschooling doesn’t quite mean school at home so there’s no need to model your homeschool after the school system. Trying to make your kids follow the same routine as they did in school isn’t always the best approach. The best thing to do is to create your own routines and schedules based on your family’s needs and your personal circumstances. Kids don’t need to sit on a desk to get their work done. They don’t need to do school for six or eight hours a day or follow a five-day schedule if that doesn’t work for your family. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. There’s no one “right” way to do things. Embrace that!

5. Keep your lessons and school day short.

Depending on the ages of your children (and their grades), a couple of hours a day is probably all you need to get all their school work done, especially before Junior High levels. I know this can feel weird at the beginning when you remember that they used to spend between seven to eight hours in school every day. But, don’t fall into the temptation of thinking you need to fill every hour with one activity or another, because this is the fastest way to burn out and take the fun out of homeschooling. When you keep your lessons short and focused, you should be able to cover everything that you need to do each day.

6. Have some kind of structure.

Yes, I know I just said you should ease into homeschooling and not replicate school at home, but you do need some kind of structure to your day if you want to accomplish anything. This is even more important if you are a work-at-home mom or have some other responsibility you need to take care of. Create some routines and schedules that will serve as some kind of road map, but you don’t need to live or die by them. Use them as a guide and tweak them when necessary.

7. Consistency is key.

Unfortunately, homeschooling doesn’t mean working only when everyone feels like it, or when your day is going well. Trust me, you’ll have lots of days when anything that can go wrong is going to go wrong, and homeschooling frees you to have recover from those days. Of course, too many of those and important things can get missed. Being rigid is not necessary (or encouraged) but learning to be disciplined and consistent will all but guarantee that you succeed at homeschooling.

8. Embrace learning for yourself!

Don’t forget to keep investing in personal growth and development. Find ways to keep improving. One of the easiest ways to learn is by reading books. Read homeschooling books, read your children’s history, literature and science books. Homeschooling is actually a good way for you to fill in some of the gaps in your own education. It’s really amazing to me how much I have learned since I started homeschooling, so make good use of this opportunity and continue to invest in your personal growth and education.

9. Get advice from the veterans.

When it comes to your kids, nobody knows better than you. That’s true when they’re little and can’t articulate when they’re sick. It’s true when they’re in the moody pre-teen or teen stage and just seem to be acting off. You can solve the puzzle because YOU know them best! It’s also true homeschooling! And while we all really do know that deep down, it can still be really helpful to hear that from veteran homeschoolers. Here is a collection of excellent Advice For First Time Homeschoolers to read before you get started. It’s a treasure trove of helpful advice!

10. Enjoy it!

Without a doubt, the most beautiful element of educating your children is the time you spend together. It affords flexibility and freedom to dive deep into things that really interest you. And it also gives you the reigns to be the boss of your own schedule and to mold little your little learners into critical thinkers. There will be days where you tackle your to-do list with a fury and check every box. There will also be days where everybody needs a recharge and you watch history and nature documentaries under a blanket. And, with some thoughtful discussion, those days are no less productive than the rest! You can go for walks, explore the yard, bake cookies, and take trips to interesting spots around town. Enjoy this priceless time with your kids by making memories because they are always learning and you are always teaching!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

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