When I made the decision to homeschool, the most common question I got was “How do you start homeschooling your child?” I’m going to share 4 easy steps.
We’re are in the month of August and school has either started where you live or is just around the corner. I thought it would be the perfect time to share what I did to get started with homeschool.
I Didn’t Always Want To Homeschool
Believe it or not, I never even considered homeschool. My husband grew up in a public school setting and I went to parochial school my entire school career.
Furthermore, I got my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I went on to teach for 8 years until I got pregnant with my daughter and had the opportunity to stay at home with her.
I struggled with the lack of support through raising her and had postpartum depression & anxiety for a few years. If I’m being honest, I was counting down the days that she would be attending pre-school.
My Daughter’s First Day Of School
She was excited for her first day which made it easier on me. Her dad and I waved good-bye and had a little day date for ourselves. But this deep gut-feeling that I NEVER get was telling me this was all wrong! I haven’t experienced many panic attacks in my life, but what should be a momentous occasion to be celebrated caused me pure dread.
My daughter was so excited for me to pick her up that day. She never knew how I felt because I pushed those feelings aside as to not influence her. It didn’t matter. Those long 7 hours were too much for her to handle. She was one of the youngest in her class and it was too much for her.
Every day there after, was torture. Each morning was a struggle to wake up, get dressed, and drive through traffic. She melted down everyday I dropped her off. As a former Kindergarten teacher, I always told the parents that dropping the kids off was like ripping off a band-aid. You just had to do it and it was better for everyone that way. Yet here I was on the parent’s side of things, and it broke my mama heart to see how unhappy she was.
I gave it the old college try. Other mothers told me it would take 6 weeks to get used to. 6 weeks! I caved at 3 weeks and withdrew her from the public school system and I never looked back.
That’s not to say things may change someday, but for now homeschool suits both of us.
Social Media And Its Affects On Homeschool
From social media, you may already follow some homeschool accounts. The ideas are super cutesy, require multiple crafts & supplies, but it may leave you with a bit of doubt. Do you have what it takes to homeschool? The discipline? Finances?
Rest assured, those accounts make it their job to come up with those ideas. What they’re excelling in in homeschool, they’re failing in another area of their home. Plus, you don’t know the kind of support system they have. They don’t show every aspect of their life, which leads you to make assumptions about them. Those assumptions usually are that they are the perfect mother and it leaves you feeling guilty because either you don’t have the energy for it, the know-how, or even the money to pull all those things off.
Homeschooling Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated.
Before I wanted to get into my 4 simple steps, I really wanted to preface it all by saying that homeschooling doesn’t have to be complicated. You can control how you view it. Maybe you need to take a step back from some homeschooling accounts to stop the distractions and comparison traps.
Or maybe you just follow one account you really love. But my belief is too many followed accounts can start to mess with your self-worth as mothers and teachers.
Chances are, if you’ve already considered homeschool, you’re pretty terrific. You’re taking matters into your own hands and get to spend so much quality time with your children. They only stay little for so long and what a gift that you get to watch every second!
Let’s Simplify Homeschooling
If this is your first time homeschooling, the task can seem daunting, especially if you yourself have never been homeschooled. I think homeschooling is easy to complicate when you’re seeing posts on social media with veteran homeschool moms posting their elaborate and beautiful lessons on colors.
Let me reassure you don’t have to spend hours on end lesson planning. I juggle other things in the house and so I don’t have the time for that (as much as I’d like to).
Homeschooling really comes down to pinpointing just a few things.
How To Homeschooling Your Child in 4 Easy Steps Video
#1 Figure Out Your Homeschool Laws
Once you have figured out the requirements based on your state, see if there’s anything that you can check off your list or prepare for. Each state is different. To find out requirements specific to you, go to the Home School Legal Defense Association website.
#2 Figure Out Your Homeschool Philosophy
This is a good starting point after figuring out your state homeschool laws. Finding a curriculum can be overwhelming, but it isn’t so bad once you figure out your homeschool philosophy.
Once you’ve come up with a philosophy, it’s easier to narrow down curriculum based on your values and beliefs. This step will help it seem not so overwhelming, because believe me, there are A LOT of curriculums to choose from!
Some common philosophies are:
- Religious: Consider this if you want your homeschool strongly influenced by religion. There are many secular curriculums out there to fit this need.
- Classical Education: This is a very language-focused and literature-focused style of learning. It’s a 3-part process of learning referred to as the trivium and takes advantage of a child’s natural states of learning.
- Waldorf: This philosophy encourages children to actively explore their environments, play, and be naturally active and curious at a young age. It later exposes children to myths, art, storytelling, and literature.
- Montessori: In the Montessori philosophy, it encourages interest learning, choice, movement, collaborative learning, and learning in context.
- Charlotte Mason: This approach relies heavily on living books rather than dry textbooks. There’s huge emphasis on literature, language art skills, history, science, life experiences, nature, narration and citation, God, and short lessons.
- Unit Studies: This builds lessons around specific units or topics of interests.
- Technology-based: This is based around online options such as DVD/CD, online tutors, virtual classes, etc.
- Roadschooling: Many families are traveling with RV’s nowadays, so this might be a great option. It uses travel experiences, locations, sights, and culture to shape educational experiences.
- Eclectic: This method takes a little bit of the already mentioned philosophies to fit the individual child.
- Unschooling: This approach usually encourages child-led interested and child-initiated learning activities. There’s a strong emphasis on learning through curiosity, play, experiences, classes, or books.
For fun, I found this quiz that helps you pinpoint the philosophy you might lean towards.
#3 Choose Your Curriculum
Once you have found the philosophy that resonates with you and your family, it’ll be easier to narrow down the curriculum you want. What works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. It’s also important to note that each child is different. Just because you bought a curriculum, doesn’t mean it will work. That’s okay. Homeschooling and figuring out your children’s learning styles is ever-evolving. Don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work.
To sort through some confusion you may have around picking a curriculum, I always recommend reading the book 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy.
I was able to borrow this book from my local library. Her suggestions are broken down by philosophy.
Furthermore, she discusses learning styles which is another thing to consider for each child. Luckily the book recommends curriculum based on learning styles. If you’re interested in getting immediate results and finding our your child’s learning styles, try out this quiz.
Write down some options that resonate with you. Once you’ve done that, talk to other homeschool moms to see if they’ve tried it and how it worked. You might get lucky and they could lend you their curriculum!
Also, try a homeschool expo or conference. Many publishers will attend allowing you to flip through the curriculum yourself.
A local library might have it available to check out. That’s another great way to see for yourself and test it out.
You can find reviews on YouTube, blogs, or Amazon.
If money is an issue for purchasing, you can always search Facebook Marketplace.
All that to say, a curriculum is not necessary. There are so many ideas on the internet that can help you inspire you to create your own lessons.
#4 Join the HSLDA
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit organization advocating for homeschooling. Through their membership, they provide many resources that I think is worth looking into for further support like:
- Answering your specific homeschool questions
- Protecting your right to homeschool in the courts and legislature
- Instruction on how to homeschool legally in your state
- Helping you choose curriculum
- 24/7 on-call support
Once you’ve got those four things taken care of, that’s a great starting point!
Will it be perfect? No! But this will give you an idea on where to get started.
The next part of the process is trial and error. Simply start teaching and you’ll soon realize if things are working or not.
If it’s not working, no big deal. You’re allowed to change it up.
Homeschooling can get complicated if you let it, but I hope this post helped break homeschooling down in a way that makes you feel confident and gives you the motivation to take action.