How to Start Homeschooling

Whether you’ve been considering homeschooling for a while now, or your childrens’ school has gone to an online format due to the current crisis, you probably have questions.  If How to Start Homeschooling is one of them, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started!

Getting Started

My Neighbor’s Cousin’s Barber SaidHow to Start Homeschooling

There are a few myths about homeschooling floating around in the U.S.  Maybe you’ve heard some of them yourself. Let’s clear up these misconceptions right now.

Myth:  Your kids won’t be socialized.

Fact:  Homeschooling parents probably hear some version of this myth more than any other.  Homeschooled kids interact not only with family, but people from a wider age range since homeschooling allows them to interact more often through their day instead of less.  They have better socialization skills than non-homeschooled peers.

Myth:  I’m not qualified to teach my kids.

Fact:  Numerous studies show that parents of homeschooled kids excel at teaching their children.  Homeschool curriculum gives you everything you’ll need. Don’t fall for the “you must be an expert” argument. 

Myth:  My kids won’t do as well if they’re homeschooled

Fact:  Teachers teach to the middle.  Kids on either side of that segment are in danger of falling between the cracks.  Homeschool students have the benefit of a curriculum chosen specifically for them and have your undivided attention.  That’s something public school simply cannot offer.

Myth:  Very few kids are homeschooled.

Fact:  In 2018, over 2,000,000 kids were being homeschooled.  The number currently increases 15-20% each year.

Myth:  Homeschooled kids can’t get into college.

Fact:  Colleges love homeschooled applicants.  According to HSLDA, the most recent research shows: 

“Homeschoolers are more likely to attend college (74% vs. 46% of traditional students.) Homeschoolers have higher GPA’s than their counterparts, and they score 15-30 percentile points higher above public school students on standardized test scores. Universities know that homeschooled students know how to study and are typically more self disciplined and well rounded than their counter parts in public school. On the college-entrance Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT), homeschoolers score 67 points above the national average, and homeschoolers outperform all other students on the ACT (American College Testing).

Myth:  Homeschooled kids can’t join the military.

Fact:  Homeschooled kids are able to join the U.S. military by following the same requirements are their non-homeschooled peers.

Myth:  Homeschooled kids can’t function in the real world.

Fact:  There are many studies that show that just the opposite is true.  Homeschooled kids have a much better record of integrating into the real word than their non-homeschooled peers.

Myth:  Homeschooling requires the same tedious number of hours as public school.

Fact:  Much of the time students spend in the classroom has nothing to do with learning the material.  It’s taken up with all the “housekeeping” teachers are required to do, including handing out band aids, sending students to the nurse, stopping the lesson for disinterested, unruly students.  You get the picture. If your homeschool day runs long, it’s because your kids have found subjects that enthrall them, and they now have time to devote to a variety of activities they didn’t previously have the time to pursue. 

Myth:  Students who struggle with their studies are better served in a public school.

Fact:  The homeschool environment allows you to tailor your curriculum and lessons to your child’s needs.  Often, students relax and excel beyond expectations just from not having the negative attention and comments from classmates.  The classroom can be a hurtful, intimidating place.

The Only Fact You Really Need

If you live in the United States you can legally homeschool your child.  (More on this below.)

Just Between You and Me

This is a good place for my disclosure statement.  Those of you who have read about me know that I was a public school teacher for 20 years.  In that time, I worked with students from 6th grade to high school seniors. In that same time period, four of my grandchildren were homeschooled.  I’ve had an up close and personal experience with both worlds over an extended period of time. Not everyone can say that. If you are interested in homeschooling your child, I will be your strongest proponent.  I’ve seen the amazing things homeschooling can bring out in children, and believe you will too.

Who Can Homeschool in the United States?How to Start Homeschooling - U.S. Map

Since it’s legal to homeschool in all 50 states, including U.S. territories and the District of Columbia you have the right to homeschool your children.  Each state has its own specific laws governing your rights and responsibilities. Some have limited regulations, and others are extensively regulated.  With this in mind, you’ll need to understand and follow the laws of the state you’re living in.

HSLDA, or Home School Legal Defense Association has the most extensive source for all things homeschooling.  You’ll want to check them out early in your journey to homeschool enlightenment! By the way, the only benefit I receive from recommending this organization to you is the knowledge that I’ve referred you to an outstanding resource in your homeschooling journey.

First Steps to Get Your Homeschool Set Up

I think you’ll enjoy this short video on getting started.

Heather brought up excellent points.  They’re especially encouraging if you’re like a number of folks across the country with a school district that decided to move to online coursework and closed their brick-and-mortar schools early.

Seven Steps to Set Up Your Homeschool

  1. Find homeschooling groups in your area and make contact with them.  (You’ll discover that each group has its own personality. If one isn’t quite what you’re looking for, try another.)
  2. Become familiar with the homeschool laws in your state. (One of the best ways to do this is by joining HSLDA.)
  3. Determine your child’s learning preference.
  4. Determine your teaching style.
  5. Find curriculum.  (This isn’t as hard as it may sound.  There are several excellent companies offering complete sets.  You can go the other direction and use a variety of materials of your own choosing.  As you gain familiarity with the process, it will all seem second nature to you!  I’ve included a few names to get you started.  You can find them near the bottom of the page.)
  6. Decide where in your home your homeschool will be and set up your schedule.  (You are not required to follow a public school model. Establish what works best for you and your children.)
  7. Treat the process like an experiment and enjoy yourself.  (At the end of the first week, and then as often as necessary, reevaluate what’s working and what needs to be adjusted or discarded.  You are in control here.)

Once you get to step 7, schedule time to celebrate your childrens’ progress, and the fabulous job you’ve done.

This process is going to look different for each family, and maybe for each of your children, and that’s OK!  Credentialed teachers are constantly learning new things, adding new ideas and throwing out material that bombed.  It is all a learning curve. Maintain contact with other homeschool parents, pick their brains, and keep moving forward.  You are doing something wonderful for your children!

Why People Choose to Homeschool

As you might expect, there are a number of reasons parents decide to homeschool, but there are a few reasons that stand out.  Here are three of them.

1.To Make a change from a negative school environment.

The National Household Education Survey (NHES), which is conducted every four years by the U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), reports this is the highest rated reason parents give for homeschooling.   Twenty-six percent of parents gave this as their number one reason, and 90% of parents responding included this as one of their reasons for homeschooling.

2. To Get a higher quality education

Research shows that homeschool students tend to score higher on standardized tests than their public school peers.  Calvert Education notes that research done by “Brian Ray of the Nation Home Education Research Institute reports that,

“home-educated kids typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.” This is true regardless of the parent’s income or if they have experience teaching. In fact, the results are even better for black homeschool students who score 23 to 42 percentile points higher than black students in public schools.

3. To focus on a child’s special needs or learning struggles

Quite simply, homeschooling allows you to focus on the specific needs and interests or your child.  They are not required to spend their days meeting one-size-fits-all requirements in the stresses that are inherent in a public school setting.

Homeschooling Philosophies

I’ve listed these in alphabetical order and for no other reason.  My daughter used several of these methods through the years. As you gain experience and continue to research what’s available, you probably will too.

  • Charlotte Mason
  • Classical
  • Eclectic
  • Montessori
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Traditional/School-at-home
  • Unit Studies
  • Unschooling
  • Waldorf

I would encourage you to spend a little time reading about each of these philosophies.  As you do, keep in mind that as a homeschooler, you are free to blend two or more of these methods to suit you and your children.

Some Curriculum IdeasHow to Start Homeschooling - Curriculum

There are many more sources out there, but these are a few that I have first-hand knowledge of, and know will give you a good start.  Once you begin looking, you’ll discover loads of other companies, each with a different goal or philosophy. Arranged in Alphabetical order, here are my recommendations:

  • Beautiful Feet
  • Calvert
  • Memoria Press
  • Sonlight

One Final Thought

As you gain a little experience with your homeschool, you may want to share what you’ve learned with others.  If a blog feels like it would be a good fit, check out my #1 recommendation. This is a great company that offers so much more than a place to blog.

You may even discover that adding an online website can help you build additional income.  How great would it be to let it fund all those great field trips you and your children are now able to take advantage of?

If your children are older, helping them start their own online business may blend perfectly into several of the subjects you’re studying too.

Whatever you decide, rest assured it will cost you nothing to take a look.

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4 thoughts on “How to Start Homeschooling”

  1. You have given fantastic tips to parents and carers around the world who have been forced to home-school their children. The Myth busters will definitely give hope to parents who are worried about how good a job they can do. I also like that you gave examples of home schooling philosophies. If I’m honest, I was aware of just Montessori and Waldorf, I will read up the rest. 

    In my experience, when you build a relationship with a child, they are happy to learn regardless of where they are, that means that providing enabling environments and adjusting your teaching style to suit their personality works the trick.

    Thank you for calming many nerves down during this challenging time.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad to hear my article was helpful.  I’m especially happy to think I may have helped calm some of the frustrations this current situation has been responsible for.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

      Reply
  2. Hi Nancy, I am feeling grateful that I have come across your informative article which is full of really awesome content. Our schools in Uganda are currently shutdown, so this post has helped me to advise my sister.  She had the exact same concept you have mentioned, that her children won’t socialize. 

    After I have sent her this post, she had responded that it had been helpful. I am to meet her tomorrow, when she gives me full details, I’ll let you know more about her experience in detail.

    Am so appreciative because I love everything which makes my sister happy.

    Thank you Nancy!

    Reply
    • I am so happy to hear my article was helpful.  I look forward to hearing about your meeting with your sister.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

      Reply

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