Maybe you are considering taking the leap or you have just jumped into making the weighty decision to be a home-educating family. Either way, you probably feel the full spectrum of emotions, from anxious and overwhelmed to excited for what couple possibly unfold.
This post is all about the practical steps to take if you are considering homeschooling. While there are certainly more things you can and will do to prepare, these are my top seven!
Related: Dear New Homeschool Mom
Step 1: Research educational philosophies and determine what resonates with you.
There are roughly seven homeschool philosophies out there, but most people resonate with a bit from a few, rather than being true to just one. Here are the different philosophies you may want to dig deeper into: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, Unschooling, Unit Studies, and Traditional.
My advice is to read blogs, books, and listen to podcasts about these different methods and decide what you value in their approaches. Write these things down to begin forming the vision for your own home education. I would recommend really considering what your goals and priorities are and writing a family vision statement, specific to home education. This will give you a plumbline to come back to when days are hard or you feel lost.
Take this free quiz to help you determine what homeschool style or educational philosophy you are.
Step 2: Choose curriculum.
Once you’ve narrowed in on philosophies you want to be a part of your homeschool, it is much easier to begin looking for curriculum. You can rule out any curriculum companies that don’t offer education in a way that you connect with. If you are able to attend a homeschool conference or visit a homeschool consignment store, actually flipping through and looking at curriculum is really helpful. Some companies offer a complete curriculum that includes every subject, but I find that the majority of homeschoolers piece curriculum together to make up their children’s school year.
Here are my TOP curriculum companies that I have personally considered or have used and recommend. Keep in mind I tend to lean more Charlotte Mason in my approach than any other.
PreK - Kindergarten Core Curriculum
- The Peaceful Preschool (read my full review here)
- Before Five in a Row/ Five in a Row
- Treehouse Nature Study
Elementary - Core Curriculum/ History
Phonics/Reading & Handwriting
- My Father’s World 1st Grade (for phonics/reading)
- Dash into Learning
- Handwriting Without Tears
- Explode the Code (read my review in this blog post)
- ABC See Hear Do
Related: How My Children Learned to Read
Science/ Nature Study
Step 3: Seek out knowledge and inspiration.
Read books, listen to podcasts, and follow Instagram accounts, bloggers, and authors who are in line with your beliefs about education and inspire you. You may want to begin doing that while on the hunt for curriculum because you may find recommendations on your way. I have discovered so many ideas and curriculum through authors, Instagram, and bloggers. Take notice of what stands out to you as you observe other mamas that have been homeschooling awhile. What about their home education attracts you? Add these things to your vision statement.
If I could narrow it down to five home education books that have inspired my journey, they would be:
- Educating the Wholehearted Child
- For the Children’s Sake
- Teaching from Rest
- The Brave Learner
- Awaking Wonder
Step 4: Create a daily rhythm.
I recommend creating a daily rhythm that creates space for what you value and the responsibilities you have in your family. A daily rhythm is so much more than a “school time schedule.” It is more of a life schedule that weaves lessons into it.
Daily Rhythms will vary greatly from family to family, depending on ages of children and the amount of home care and other commitments you may have. Remember that you are not recreating a classroom environment in your home. Your children do not need 8 hours of instruction! I have written many daily rhythm blog posts over the years, as it is constantly shifting as we change and grow. Hopefully some of these posts will give you ideas of where to begin. Here are a few of them at various stages of life in our family:
- Our Preschool Daily Rhythm
- Our Summer Daily Rhythm
- Homeschooling with a Baby Daily Rhythm
- Homeschooling with a Toddler and a Baby Daily Rhythm
- Homeschooling with Two Toddlers Daily Rhythm
- Our 2023 Daily Rhythm
Step 5: Set the environment.
Some people have designated homeschool rooms and many families homeschool at their dining room table or all over their homes. I personally have found that at least having a space near the dining room table or in a designated spot in the house for all of our school materials is helpful. If you don't have a ton of extra space to work with, check out this blog post on how to homeschool in a smaller space. Your curriculum will have materials lists, but visit my Amazon storefront to get a peek into some of my favorites.
Watch my video below How We Homeschool in a Small Space.
Step 6: Find real-life homeschool community.
The options vary from city to city, but go on a hunt for real-life homeschool community. A few places to start are a homeschool co-op, sports groups, and homeschool classes like music or art at local studios. You may also consider finding a weekly group such as a Wild and Free Community Group. These groups are all over the world and the main goal is community. You can search if there is group in your area here: bewildandfree.org
Step 7: Learn your state’s homeschool laws.
Homeschool laws are regulated per state, so you need to know what the local law requires of you and your child. Some states require a certain number of college credits from the parent who will be teaching them, while others require a high school diploma. Most states will require that you officially declare your intent to homeschool and possibly name your school. Some states require attendance tracking, yearly testing, and/or a teacher’s evaluation. Some states have virtually no requirements at all. You can find out about your state’s requirements here.
Once you have discovered what the laws are in your state, you can begin the process of adhering to them by setting up systems in your home, such as a simple attendance tracker in your lesson planner or a filing system for your children’s work portfolio if that is a requirement. I simply keep a record of our lessons by using this planner.
I hope this post has been helpful for you in starting your homeschool journey! I have tried to make this site as a place of education, community, and encouragement. Feel free to explore the blog for more helpful posts. Here are some other posts I think you may find helpful:
- Dear New Homeschool Mom: 5 Things I’d Like to Tell You as You Begin This Journey
- Homeschool Planning 101
- Our Homeschool Preschool Daily Rhythm
- Our Favorite Preschool and Early Elementary Booklists
- Our Homeschool Morning Time
- Deschooling: What, Why, and How?