Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin
Do you need want to start homeschooling today? Are you new to homeschooling and not sure where to start? Don’t worry, I’m here to help take that overwhelm and break it down into manageable steps. Let me walk you through the steps that will allow you to start homeschooling today if you want.
When someone chooses to start homeschooling, they are often very excited to be leaving their public school district or online school. They are ready for a fresh start and very excited. But that excitement can quickly become overwhelm as they realize there is so much they don’t know yet!
The first thing you need to do before you do anything is mentally commit to the process. The homeschool community is always eager and willing to help but learning how to begin takes time like anything else! As you begin your journey, don’t rush out to buy a school desk for your living room or buy maps for your dining room. Those things are fine…but it is much better to start slowly. Take a deep breath and work through the process logically to avoid a lot of the homeschool pitfalls.
Your child’s education is a journey. It is an opportunity to explore different ways of learning to meet your family’s needs. There are many benefits of homeschooling, but it can take time to figure out exactly what is the best way for your family.
If you are unsure whether homeschooling is for you, be sure to read The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling.
(Disclosure: This post include affiliate links. We may earn a commission at no cost to you if you purchase through one of these links.)
Table of Contents
Step 1: How to Legally Homeschool
In the United States, the first step in your homeschool journey is to find out your state laws and local laws for homeschooling.
Homeschooling Requirements By State
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but the requirements do vary. A great resource for this is the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund where you can find all the requirements spelled out for your state‘s homeschool laws and receive legal advice if needed.
Many people wonder if they need a college degree to educate their children…but you do not! Some states require that you have a high school diploma but others do not. Some states require attendance records and others don’t. Be sure to find out what your state requires!
Do not ask your local school district for advice on homeschooling. They are often unfamiliar with the legal requirements and you will receive varying advice. Do join state homeschool support groups as they are often wonderful sources of legal information in each state. Facebook has a state homeschool group for most states.
Some states will ask you to submit a list of curricula you intend to use for your child this school year. If you are trying to start homeschooling today, that may feel very overwhelming. You can’t possibly know in one day what you will use. If you jump down to Step 4, you will see a link to free curriculum. This is a great place to start if you need to put together a temporary plan to submit to the school…until you narrow down your intended curriculum.
Step 2: Ask Yourself WHY You are Homeschooling?
Before you begin your homeschool journey, it is really important to identify WHY you want to homeschool. At the surface level, you might think it is one thing, but if you take time to dig a little deeper it might be something else entirely. Why is homeschooling something you would consider over public or private school. This answer will help you find resources that are a good fit for your whole family.
Oftentimes, when people start to dig around in their own thoughts, they mind find that they have a combination of WHY’s. They might want to homeschool for academic, mental health or scheduling reasons…but mixed with those reasons might be fear, anxiety, rejection or even a poverty mindset.
What we are thinking will become what we speak over our homeschool. Proverbs 18:21 says this: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Our words have power. And when we speak from our negative mindsets, it will color our children’s learning and our homeschool experience.
If you homeschool because you are afraid (of people, the schools or the government), then that will come out of your mouth. Conversely, if you homeschool because you know that you as the parent have full authority over your child’s education and you want to teach and train them to be responsible adults who will contribute their gifts and talents to the world…then that will also come out of your mouth.
One can lead to isolation and negativity while the other is empowering and strong.
Simply considering your WHY is important because if you find some negative mindsets, you can reframe your thinking in a way that will empower your homeschooling to start off on a strong footing.
My Favorite Homeschool Books!
Step 3: Learn About the Different Philosophies of Homeschooling & Your Child’s Learning Style
Popular Homeschooling Methods
If you come from a traditional public or private school background, you may never have considered that there are different philosophies of education. In the homeschool world, they range from very structured and academic to very relaxed and student-led and everywhere in between.These different philosophies are reflected in different “methods of homeschooling.” Before you decide what resources you will use for your homeschool journey, go ahead and learn about the different philosophies of homeschooling.
Read about 7 Methods of Homeschooling. A very popular method for new homeschoolers is the Charlotte Mason Method because it is neither super strict nor super relaxed.
A great way to see resources in person that reflect that values of each homeschooling method is to go to a homeschool convention. These are usually offered in the spring or summer across the country. Speakers and vendors will come to speak on ALL kinds of homeschooling topics. They homeschool help they offer is invaluable and seeing resources in person is going to be one of the best decisions you make. If you can afford to go your first year of homeschooling, it will help so much to SEE all the different options.
Pay Attention to Your Child’s Learning Style
As you are evaluating your personal philosophy and looking at different methods, be sure to consider your child’s learning style. How do they learn? Are they a visual learner, an auditory learner, a hand’s on learner…or some combination. Understanding how they learn the best can help you make the best decisions for your family. Home education is a great way to provide a unique education for each of your kids but understanding what they need can be hard work.
If you are weighing the pros and cons of screens in your homeschooling, check out these Recommended Screen Times by Age.
Step 4: How To Buy Curriculum
If you want to start homeschooling today, do not go buy curriculum today!! (See Note below on Homeschooling for Free)
In general homeschool curriculum largely reflects the different approaches to homeschooling. Different publishers may offer quality resources for different subject areas but they will not all be a good homeschool option for your family. It is important to choose your homeschool method before you buy curriculum to avoid wasting money on books that you don’t use.
The first step is to do an internet search for curriculum in your chosen method. Another option is to ask in Facebook groups what people who use your method of homeschooling use. Veteran homeschoolers are excellent at offering advice on homeschooling style, the homeschooling process, and creating a learning experience that you will love.
After you have narrowed down your choices, look at a few samples. Once you make your choice, commit to using it for several months before trying something else. It often takes a few months to “figure out” how to use what you bought.
Homeschooling For Free
It is entirely possible to homeschool using mostly free resources. Before you buy it is important to take some time to think about your child’s learning styles, your budget, your philosophy and your priorities. Depending on how your child learns and your own philosophy, you may want to purchase curriculum. That can be a hefty investment, so before you buy, it is important to have a plan for what you want to buy.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to buy every subject to get started. In fact, many parents choose to Deschool their kids before starting formal learning at home. Deschooling is basically a period of time to decompress from traditional learning and reconnect with the daily enjoyment of life…that is sometimes lost when a child is in a high stress academic environment.
At some point you will want to look at curriculum…either free or purchased.
If you choose free curriculum, you may want to know how to print perfect printables at home.
Step 5: How To Make a Homeschool Plan
If you have never made a lesson plans before, this can feel overwhelming. Its easy to gather the supplies and curriculum and quite another thing to implement your plan. If you have children in the elementary grades, that plan is going to look very different from a high schooler who needs you to create a High school transcript with specific detailed information. The most important thing is to be intentional and organized about your process…even if you simply keep it all in a 3 ring notebook!
- Set Goals for Your Homeschool
- Choose curriculum for each grade level
- Use a homeschool planner
- Print calendars and supply lists
- Have a planning session to map your school year
- Create a 1 month homeschool schedule
- Decide how to store your homeschool supplies
- Help your kids get organized.
Step 6: How To Find Community
Not everyone wants or needs homeschool co-ops or a homeschool program when they begin homeschooling. But I would argue that moms need a homeschooling community….even if its online! We need to be in relationships with other people and more importantly, our kids need friends too! When people think about homeschool groups, they often focus on co-ops, but there are endless places to find connection with others.
Places to find community when you are a new homeschool parent:
- Home school support group
- Classes at the local school
- Private classes
- Online classes
- Homeschool co-op
- Field trip groups
- Sports teams
- Homeschool Hybrid Options
- Homeschool Days at Local Museums and Businesses
Beyond homeschool programs, you can find wonderful community for your kids in:
- Extracurricular activities like sports or clubs…even through the public school
- Classes at the local library
- Youth group for high school students
If you are trying to find local homeschool groups in your area, social media is the best place for new homeschooling parents to take the first steps in getting connected. It can take time to find local groups, but be persistent…or start a group you love!
But if you are looking for a homeschool group, below I have the best places to find them!!
Step 7: How To Get Coaching for New Homeschoolers
At this point you may be thinking…wait…I don’t need to be coached to homeschool…and you are 100% correct.
But if after reading all of those requirements you are feeling overwhelmed, I want to help.
I offer 1 hour consultations for homeschoolers trying to sort out the steps of homeschooling. If you would like an experienced mentor help you launch confidently, Please contact me!
More Steps to Consider…
As you look at your new homeschooling journey, there may be other things you want to consider. What “extras” are important to you. Maybe they are part of a traditional school experience…and maybe they are just part of your own dreams! Here are good questions to ask!
- Do I want school or family photos?
- What are we learning about that we want to cover with field trips?
- How will we as parents get a break when homeschooling becomes overwhelming?
- Who is my person to talk to when I have homeschool questions?
- How will I keep track of my kid’s school memories?
- Make a plan for rainy days when everyone has had enough school and needs to get out!!
- If you have children with special needs, some states offer resources to students who have an IEP.
Welcome to the Homeschool Journey!
As you take this step into the world of homeschooling, you are in for a great adventure. As with any new challenging thing, there will be bumps in the road, but those are all opportunities to learn new things! If you have questions along the way, contact me!
Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!