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.
While I am only a few years in, I do have some words of wisdom to share that I hope will help light the new path that you are starting to walk down. 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!
Looking for a letter of encouragement as you start this journey? Read my blog post: 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.
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.
Read my blog post: Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2021-2022
PreK - K
Elementary - Core Curriculum/History
Phonics/Reading & Handwriting
- My Father’s World 1st Grade (for phonics/reading)
- Dash into Learning (get 20% off with code: TREHOUSE20)
- Handwriting Without Tears
- Explode the Code
- The Good and The Beautiful (especially the younger years)
- Masterbooks Math Lessons for a Living Education (read my review here)
- Math U See
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
While I recognize that what resonates and inspires me is likely not the same as it is you, here are some of my top instagram accounts that inspire my home education. Hopefully this will be a good launching point for you.
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.
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. Your curriculum will have materials lists, but visit my Amazon storefront to get a peek into some of my favorites.
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. https://hslda.org/legal 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