How to Start Homeschooling: Tips and Resources to Help You Begin

Perhaps your child hasn't started school yet, but you can tell they value being taught one-on-one; another option is that your child has found the public school system frustrating and poorly suited to their style. Whatever your reason for beginning homeschooling, some simple steps can help you prepare to succeed as a homeschooling parent. There are various levels of customization available for homeschooling parents these days, so you can look into many of them to learn more.

Getting Started

Read about the Laws Regarding Homeschooling: Every state has different laws about how parents must register and test their children when they are homeschooling. Luckily, as long as you learn what the regulations are, it is possible to homeschool your child in a way that both keeps your child at an appropriate grade level on some basic measures while allowing them to focus differently than they would in public school.

Research Strategies and Curriculum: It's easy to get overwhelmed, but start taking it just an hour or two at a time. Try reading some books, articles, and online forums about getting started with homeschooling. Narrow down your options as you go: you know what grade you want to start with, for instance, and you may have an idea of what kind of focus you want, like a chance for your child to spend more time on science. When you feel overwhelmed, write down a few specific questions you still have and take a break; you can always return to searching for the answers to those questions.


Stay Organized as You Plan Curriculum: Everyone needs a good method for planning their curriculum for homeschooling. Finding resources isn't too difficult (if anything, there are too many of them!) but it is very important to keep track of all the things you want to cover in a given year.

Order Curriculum and Make a Daily Schedule: Work with your child to create a schedule that works well with their most active times, and order the curriculum or books that you are interested in trying. Through online forums or the library, you may be able to find materials for free or cheap, so consider those options as well.

Join or Create a Support Group for Homeschoolers: Parents who are homeschooling and homeschooled children alike need socialization and support. By creating or joining a homeschooling support group, you can get help for lessons you know less about, while maintaining your autonomy for other kinds of lessons.

Non-Traditional Schooling Options

Not every homeschool investigation yields the result of full-time homeschooling; the problems in public school for your child might be solved through a different option like these two:

Charter Schools: These schools receive public funding and usually have competitive, often lottery-based entry. They often are trying out new ways of teaching, but make sure you have some references from others who support the school. Charter Schools can sometimes offer very innovative learning environments but occasionally are simply under-regulated schools that don't actually improve student outcomes.

Online Schools/Hybrid Programs: With the rise of the internet, it's easier than ever to pull your child from a public school and enroll them in online coursework that can keep them at grade level. This coursework takes away some of the guesswork for you as a parent, but often doesn't take as long as a typical school day, leaving time for your child to do other enrichment activities or read more about whatever interests them most. Some parents prefer this route, especially if they are also working part-time and cannot do quite as much curriculum preparation.


Resources to Get You Started

HSLDA: This organization, the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, works to make sure homeschooling remains legal throughout the United States. It also provides a variety of resources for homeschooling families.

PBS: PBS has some great resources for people considering homeschooling and learning about the many options available to them, as well as a wide variety of educational programming for children.

SimpleHomeschool: A resource page that has many different tips, links, and tricks for the new homeschooling parent. An offshoot of a popular magazine, Practical Homeschooling, this site aggregates curriculum, resources, interesting articles, and a wealth of information as you start your journey.

For the Future

The homeschooling experience is very flexible, giving each child an individualized plan for learning. However, especially as your child grows, it's wise to think about what your child will need if they want to go into a higher education institution after homeschooling. It can be wise to enroll in a community college class or two during late high school years to get a feel for traditional education before going to a residential college or university.

By noting what helps your child as you begin homeschooling, you are able to change and grow as your child grows. Your curriculum as a homeschooling parent can be as unique and flexible as the child you want to teach.