The decision to homeschool can be a very exciting one but can also feel pretty overwhelming when you are just getting started. There are still a lot of decisions to make and logisitics to figure out. After plenty of research, these are the 10 steps that I’ve found to be the most important to tackle first.
As mentioned on my Start Here page, I am a homeschool beginner myself! The 10 steps listed below are what I am currently following as I prepare for our homeschooling journey! I plan to write more extensive posts on how I tackled each of these steps and some of the challenges I’ve experienced along the way!
1. Research Homeschool Laws in your State
I believe this is an important first step. While homeschooling is completely legal throughout the United States, each state has regulations that homeschool families must follow. In a lot of states, these regulations are pretty minimal, however, there are a few states that have pretty extensive ones as well.
It’s important to know what will be required of you as a teaching parent BEFORE you make the decision to begin homeschooling. The HSLDAwebsite is a great resource and breaks down all of the homeschool regulations by state.
2. Decide if Homeschooling is the Right Decision for Your Family
Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. The first time I mentioned the idea to my husband he thought it was an absurd idea. After more discussion and really opening his eyes to a world he didn’t know much about, he quickly came around. But not everyone will.
In an ideal world, one parent would stay home to homeschool the children while the other parent worked. But in this day and age surviving off just one household income is rough and sometimes impossible. Our family can certainly testify to that. And although it is possible for a parent to work full-time AND homeschool, it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
Other people may also just prefer to send their children to public or private schools and that’s okay too. But it’s important to sit down and really come to an agreement on what is the best option for your family.
3. Hash out the Logistics
Are you currently working full-time but plan to stay home in order to homeschool? If so, do you have debt you will need to pay off before that is possible? Will you need to readjust your monthly budget to make it work? Do you need to look for part-time work or work from home opportunities to make this possible?
This was the biggest hurdle my husband and I struggled with when we decided to homeschool. The way our finances looked at the time, it just wasn’t possible for me to quit my full-time job and for us to survive off his income alone. So once we decided homeschooling is where our hearts were at, we really had to crunch down on our debt and brainstorm ways I could either work part-time or earn an income from home. Which is exactly what inspired me to start this blog!
4. Research Different Homeschool Methods
If you imagine homeschooling as worksheets and lessons at a desk (much like public schools), boy will you be pleasantly surprised! There are SEVERAL different methods to teaching from home, many that don’t include desks or worksheets at all!
Some of the most popular methods I recommend you look into include: Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Unschooling and Eclectic. Though there are many more, these are the ones that really got me excited about the possibilities for our schooling experience. Read about them in my post HERE.
You don’t need to choose a method right away, but it’s good to have an idea of what’s out there so you can start thinking about what might work best for your children. The other great thing about homeschooling is that if you try out one method and don’t like it, you can always switch it up!
5. Develop a Budget
Along with the freedom to choose curriculum, awesome field trips and activities, also comes expenses. While you can find plenty of free curriculum online, some subject will require either the purchase of an entire curriculum set or at least a few books to use as resources. Art supplies, general school supplies (pencils, paper, etc.) and fuel for all of those fun field trips, to name a few, are all going to cost you money. Believe me when I say, it is so easy to spend a huge amount of money on fun homeschooling supplies.
With a little research and thought, you can easily stay within a budget that fits your family. But before you go out and start spending, be sure you and your significant other sit down and develop a number that fits your financial situation.
This is a step that my husband and I have not yet completed. In the coming months, we will be sitting down to develop a reasonable budget for our homeschool and when we do I’ll be sure to share it with you!
6. Research and Choose a Curriculum (or create your own!)
In my opinion, this step is the most overwhelming. Not only do you need to sit down and decide what you are going to teach each child, but you also need to decide how you are going to teach it and what resources you’ll use. There are hundreds of different curriculum options for every subject.
I recommend first making a list of what subjects you are wanting to teach and then reaching out to other homeschool parents to see what curriculum they recommend. If you don’t have a network of homeschool friends yet (like me), I suggest that you get online and just plan on spending a fair amount of time doing your research.
Price will also play a factor in which curriculum you choose to go with. If you are wanting to save some money, there are websites where you can buy used curriculum and books, such as the Homeschooled Classifieds website OR if you have preschool/kindergarten aged children, you can choose to create your own curriculum by using the free resources provided online.
There are a ton of generous homeschool parents who will share the curriculum they’ve created with you for absolutely free! This is what I plan to use for both of my children this year (3 & 5yrs). Check out my Pinterest page to find some great free curriculum options!
7. Tell Friends and Family
Step 7 is to share the exciting news with your friends and family. You may decide that you want to share the news right away, and that’s great too!
We, however, know that we are likely going to have some push-back from some of our family members, so we want to make sure all of our ducks are in a row before we share the news. We want to be completely ready to answer questions and have our plan set in place so we are prepared to speak about our decision with complete confidence. (Check back later to read my post on how this went for us!)
Parents who homeschool, choose to do so because they believe it is in the best interest of their children and their family. Regardless of what others think, we can be confident and know that we are blessed to be able to have this amazing opportunity with our children. 🙂
8. Decide on a (flexible) Schedule
How many days per week will you incorporate school work? Some people like to stick to the traditional Monday-Friday, while others like to do fewer hours but spread it across 6 days a week. Our family is leaning towards doing a 4 day school week.
Will you use early morning hours to get your schoolwork done and have the afternoon for free time? Or would you prefer to school in the afternoon hours because your family does better with a little extra sleep in the mornings? Some homeschool families also use the whole day for school work but incorporate several breaks throughout.
Another scheduling aspect to think about are what holidays, family trips, field trips, extra-curricular activities does your family intend to participate in throughout the year? Keeping in mind the scheduling requirements in your state (if any), you can plan out your entire school year around these activities.
While you don’t need to create your entire year’s schedule right away, it is a good idea to start thinking about a schedule with room for flexibility when needed. Also, don’t forget to keep in mind those state requirements found on the HSLDA website.
9. Get Organized
If you’re like me and you love to organize, this is the fun part! If you don’t have a love for organizing, don’t fret! There are plenty of resources on the web to help you, including me!
The way you decide to organize will likely evolve over time, as you discover what works best for your situation. However, it is a good idea to get things organized as you see most appropriate, before you begin homeschooling to make your life easier from the get-go.
Here is a list of areas you may want to organize before you begin schooling at home:
- School Supplies – Books, pencils, paper, art supplies, etc.
- School Room – Or school table, if you’re like me and don’t have a spare room to use!
- Lesson Plans & Curriculum – Binders and file systems work great for this.
- Teacher’s Binder – May include: schedules, report cards, homeschool regulations, etc.
Check out my post Homeschool Organization Ideas to get you Inspired for some of my personal favorite homeschool organizing systems!
10. Enjoy the Ride!
Homeschooling won’t always be a walk in the park. As with anything, there will be days that will challenge us and days that make us want to throw in the towel. The most important thing to remember, is having this opportunity to educate and spend this quality time raising our children is such a blessing and worth all of the challenges we face!
Which step are you currently working on? I’d love to hear! Please comment below!