Learning How to Homeschool is something you can do!
We’re so excited you’ve chosen to homeschool, and we’re here to make sure you have everything you need to accomplish that goal. We’ve tried to summarize the homeschool journey into six simple steps. In each step, we’ll give you the information and tools that will help you accomplish that step and move on! Congratulations!
Start With 6 Steps to Homeschool Success
How to Homeschool Step 1:
Homeschooling Requirements by State
One of the first things every new homeschooling parent needs to do is to understand and fulfill their state’s homeschooling requirements. These homeschool laws are often a few simple tasks that you complete at the outset of your homeschool experience. The team at Homeschool.com has created a quick and handy reference of all 50 state Department of Education pages that discuss state homeschooling requirements. If a state did not have its own DOE website then we have linked to the National guidelines listing state homeschool regulations.
We would suggest, however, avoiding contacting your local school district beyond what is necessary. As to be expected, their job is to keep students in public schools, and they may not provide the information you need for homeschooling. Finally, your state may require homeschooling parents to have a high school diploma or college degree, so make sure to be familiar with all of your state homeschooling regulations.
Veteran Homeschooler Tip: Some local districts may request more information from homeschooling families than their state requires. Being aware of your rights and your state homeschooling laws can keep you from extra effort.
How to Homeschool Step 2:
Discover Your “HOW”
First you need to know your “why!” One of the inital things that I do each year is to write out “why” I am planning to homeschool that year. I know, it sounds crazy, but hang on.
Veteran Tip: I write out my “WHY” with all the passion and determination that I have at the beginning, so that later in the year when the bad day(s) come I can pull that “golden nugget” out and let my own words refresh and restore my vision.
Once I have my “why” nailed down I move on to “how” I will accomplish that. Your “how” is how you will teach your children in your homeschool. Homeschoolers often call this your “homeschool method” or a “homeschool style.” Although every homeschool is unique, certain homeschooling styles and approaches have become very popular.
Every family is unique, so find the type of homeschooling that works best for you and your children. Not sure how to find out your unique homeschooling method? Take this easy homeschool-style quiz to get an idea of what homeschool method works for you. Remember, if you take the types of homeschooling quiz a few times and get different answers, you may be an eclectic homeschooler!
Make Accommodations for Working While Homeschooling
If you are a single working parent, or both parents work full-time, your homeschool method may need to be custom-tailored to your family dynamic. However, it is possible, so don’t feel discouraged. Homeschooling while working takes creativity and juggling, but you can still homeschool with multiple grade levels. Remember, it’s always a good idea to outsource (let others help you teach) or find a curriculum that is easy on the parents.
Make Accommodations for Homeschooling a Child With Special Needs
If you have a child with special needs, “how” you homeschool is going to look different for your family. However, homeschooling is an excellent option for children with special needs. Certain states extend special needs help to homeschooling families, so be sure to check with your state’s Department of Education parameters when looking into how to homeschool. Without state help, though, there are other great resources for special needs families. I encourage you to connect with local homeschool support groups, related Facebook groups, and your local library for resources. Read more about homeschooling a special needs child here.
How to Homeschool Step 3:
Know Your Child
Your child is absolutely unique and amazing, and finding out how your child learns and what motivates them is key to choosing a curriculum that your family will enjoy this year! Taking both your homeschool teaching method and your child’s learning preferences into account is an important part of creating a solid homeschool foundation.
Veteran Tip: When I choose my curriculum I keep in mind my child’s learning preferences. I don’t always cater to them completely, but I do try to incorporate the ways of learning that they enjoy!
You’ll also want to figure out what motivates your student. Discover everything you can about how they learn. Some children enjoy a more hands-on approach to learning while others really love to watch and listen. Take the learning preferences quiz to help you figure out where your child’s learning preferences lie!
How to Homeschool Step 4:
Finding Your Homeschool Curriculum
Finding a homeschool curriculum that fits your family and lifestyle is so important! One of the best ways to get insight on homeschooling and homeschool curriculum is to test drive or take advantage of free homeschool curriculum trials, attend a homeschool convention so you can “handle” the curriculum you’re thinking about, and find homeschool curriculum “reviews” to hear how other homeschoolers found that product performs.
Veteran Tip: Get information from other homeschoolers, conventions, and aligning your curriculum to your teaching style and your student’s learning preferences. You’ll find curriculum that matches your personlity, your student’s needs, and your family life style is often the best curriculum for you!
Attending Homeschool Conventions
When you get the chance to participate in a homeschool convention, take a look at our suggestions for preparing. A convention is a great place to get your hands on the curriculum before buying and they offer great discounts.
Settle on Your Curriculum!
Finding local support and attending a homeschool virtual convention are great first steps in finding your best-fit homeschool curriculum but at the end of the day… you have to make that decision. This is one of the most difficult steps in getting started, but if you’ve come this far you can do it. Listen to how to select a homeschool curriculum and use our handy Curriculum Finder Tool!
How to Homeschool Step 5:
Planning and Keeping Records
Planning Your Homeschool Year
This is essential! I’ve gone from overplanning to under planning and can tell you that a simple solid homeschool plan is a necessity. But, a plan that includes goals is vital for creating an amazing homeschool year that accomplishes what you set out to achieve. In fact, I don’t plan an entire year at once because I don’t have an eraser big enough to fix what would happen!
Veteran Tip: To plan my homeschool, I create a simple framework at the beginning of the year, and then build on it as the year progresses.
I use our Free Homeschool Sanity Saver Planner to plan my year. I get it printed (because the colors are beautiful) and I put it in a three-ring binder so that I can easily change the order or add a bulk amount of certain pages. I often use several of the pages during the week, so I print numerous copies of those and the binder makes organization a breeze. Get the details of how I make my yearly plan as well as a video about homeschooling planning by clicking below.
Keeping Good Homeschool Records
Keeping comprehensive homeschool records is one of the areas that so many parents worry about. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you take small steps consistently you’ll build good homeschool records over time. Here are some of the things I suggest using in your homeschool record-keeping.
- Keep a grade book. This can be as simple as a notebook, a spreadsheet, or even a printable paper grade book. This may seem like it belongs in a school setting but you can easily do this at home. You’ll find a free one below!
- Create report cards. These come in handy to help your children see their progress. They also can be used for discounts and rewards at restaurants and even theme parks. Learn how to make your own homeschool report card here.
- Create transcripts for your high schoolers. Definitely don’t wait till the last minute to create a transcript. Also, be sure to include course descriptions on your transcript since most colleges will want to know.
How to Homeschool Step 6:
Find Your Homeschool Community
Connecting with other homeschoolers in your area is important to help you and your family get started! There are many ways to find local homeschool groups. Some are simply support groups, some are co-ops that help you carry the teaching load by sharing classes, and then there are even homeschool micro-schools.
Sometimes you’ll find support groups that are centered around the homeschool curriculum that you choose. While other support groups may be connected through their faith or even sports activities. Local homeschool support groups during the school year can provide invaluable homeschool help through suggestions, information, and resources. These homeschool families already know how to navigate the state requirements and homeschool curriculum and can easily share what works! But most importantly fellow homeschoolers can give you insight into the homeschool curriculum and programs with which they’ve had first-hand experience.
Additional Articles and Downloads for Getting Started