How to Start Homeschooling in 3 Easy Steps

These days, everyone seems to know how to start homeschooling, even people who have never homeschooled! For example, public school textbook companies turned homeschool curriculum providers tell parents to use their books. Virtual charter schools invite parents to sign up and shell out a few thousand dollars for their homeschool help. But, a vibrant homeschooling community rich with wisdom and experience has existed for at least three decades now! Who knows better about how to start homeschooling than that 2.5 million strong (not including all the graduates…) community?

I have now been homeschooling for almost two decades myself. Two of my children have graduated and two are still finishing up. Some of my friends have been doing this homeschooling thing far longer than I have. But, I have learned a lot over the years. So, here’s what I would say about how to start homeschooling.

How to Start Homeschooling in 3 Easy Steps

Before I get into my three easy steps, I have to tell you about my homeschooling philosophy. We are Christian unschoolers. That means that my children have had a big say in what we learn about and how we do things. But, following my three steps works no matter what homeschooling method you choose to follow. There are at least eight different styles of homeschooling, including unschooling. All of them (except one) start with these three steps.

Step One: Renew Your Mind

First, let go of all that you think you know about how children learn. Let go of the conventions of school. For example, it does not take six hours for children to “do school” each day. It doesn’t even take six years to learn elementary math! After all, the scope and sequence charts of the public school are not the laws of learning for each year of your child’s life. And, textbooks do not teach all there is to know about something, nor are they the best/only/preferred way for children to learn. Just let go of it. All of it. It no longer serves you and your family. In fact, if you don’t let go of it, it may actually damage your relationships with your children. That would basically sabotage all your efforts to successfully homeschool.

Many veteran homeschoolers, myself included, recommend a de-schooling period. This means that for a period of time, you don’t do anything that looks like lessons. Instead, you basically have an extended summer vacation together, just having fun. Some recommend taking one month for each year your child has spent in school. Others say one week. Just do what you feel comfortable with. But, do take some time to shed all those myths about school.

Step 2: Read. Read A Lot.

Second, no matter what homeschooling method/style you choose, books form the core. But, not just any books. Choose autobiographies, biographies, historical fiction, classic novels at their reading level, award-winning picture books, and of course, allow them to choose their own favorites. Have a read-aloud time each day. Help them fall in love with reading if they haven’t already. You can find inspiration for what books to get at Ambleside Online, homeschool catalogs (try Veritas Press, Sonlight, or WinterPromise), Caldecott winners, or Newbery winners.

As an alternative, try audiobooks or storytelling podcasts or CDs. Your children will learn a ton just from reading together. Their vocabulary will grow by leaps and bounds and other skills (math, critical thinking, creativity, and yes, reading level) will improve as well. Also, be sure to get books that are above their reading level (for you to read to them) as well as books they can read on their own.

Step 3 for How to Start Homeschooling: Real Life Experiences

Now, I mentioned that I am biased. But, you know the old adage, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand,” right? Homeschoolers do life together. The line between school and everything else becomes very, very blurry. For example, a trip to the grocery store can turn into lessons on personal budgeting, world agriculture, national economics, health, and patience! Embrace these opportunities. They will remember these lessons with greater clarity than any school lesson. All styles of homeschooling take advantage of these teachable moments.

Add in field trips and crafts

And, all styles of homeschooling take “field trips” far more often than any school your child attended. These may include the typical museums, zoos, and galleries. But, they also might include nature walks; farm, orchard, or factory tours; interviews with local business owners; visiting re-enactments, festivals, or fairs; or anything else you might dream up.

Alternatively, if you want to add in more real life learning opportunities, consider adding in some crafts or life skills. Most homeschooling styles incorporate some sort of activity with their lessons. For example, a unit study on early America will often include some pioneer craft like candle making, soap carving, or shriveled apple faces. In addition, Charlotte Mason enthusiasts often learn drawing, playing a musical instrument, sewing, and/or other life skills.

If you follow these three steps–renew your mind, read a lot, and make use of real life experiences–you will be well on your way to successful homeschooling. You and your family will be happier together! Need more insight and tips? Check out Easy Tips and Advice from Veteran Homeschoolers.

You might want to check out this awesome giveaway to help you get started!

While my three easy steps to get started homeschooling are a great foundation, sometimes we need a little help. That’s where this giveaway comes in. These resources for the elementary years offer a fun, organized, inspiring way to encourage learning in your home while they hold your hand. Check it out!

Check out this AMAZING Prize package!

Mastering Handwriting at Any Level from In All You Do includes over 150 pages of printable practice pages. Students will learn manuscript/print and cursive at the same time. This new curriculum takes children from prewriting drills before jumping in to letters.
Bricks Through the Ages Bundle- (10) History Units from Homeschool On the Range – Study history, from the Ancient Egyptians through World War II, with your Legos or other building blocks in this fun, cross-curricular bundle! There are 175 pages of activities, spanning ten different eras in history.
Helia and Zea: A Study of Flowering Plants for Kids from Julie Naturally – Listen in as Helia and Zea–a sunflower and a corn plant–talk about themselves and debate whether monocots or dicots are better! Learn about plants by talking with plants in this unique plant unit study that includes experiments, culture, nature study, writing, hands-on activities, plenty of full color printables, and more!
All About Trees Nature Study Journal Bundle from Homeschool Helper Online – With this printable All About Trees Nature Study Journal Bundle, your students will learn about: Trees Through the Year, Apple Tree Life Cycle, Tree Identification, Types of Trees, Deciduous & Evergreen Tree Characteristics, Tree Trunk Growth Rings, Tree Anatomy. and more! Designed for K to 8th grades.
Early Frontier: Kentucky, Davy Crockett & the Battle of the Alamo from Whole Child Homeschool – This unit is FILLED with FUN, hands-on projects like: Find out what a flintlock is and how it works. Build a potato launcher. Learn about forensics and interior & exterior ballistics. Create an embroidery sampler. Build a model of the Alamo. Build a squirrel feeder. Learn new words like “varmit” and “discombobulated”. And much more! Activities & lessons for the whole family!
Writing Through History Level 1 Manuscript Bundle from Brookdale House – All Level 1 books in this homeschool writing curriculum contain historically relevant reading selections. They are divided into four chapters: short stories, time period tales, poetry, and cultural tales. There are two writing models following each reading selection; one for copywork and the second for dictation.
Rabbit Trails through Literature Volume 1 from Rabbit Trails Homeschool is a hands on, literature based language arts curriculum for all elementary ages. Learn different language arts concepts with amazing, award winning books as the spine of your child’s education and create a love of learning!
Jonah & Nahum Little Fishes Bible Study from Homeschool with Moxie provides a gentle introduction to the inductive study method for your kids in grades K-4. Your kids will deep dive into key passages in these books over 36 lessons.
Junior Scientist Science Study: Healthy Habits from Living Life and Learning – Teach your kids the importance of personal hygiene, dental health, healthy food, and healthy minds. These healthy habits will set them up for success in life. Perfect for students in kindergarten to grade 2.
Learn Classical Music with Cartoons online course from Music in Our Homeschool – “Learn Classical Music with Cartoons” is one of the most fun and accessible music appreciation courses ever written! Inside are 37 separate composer studies with music to listen to–by cartoon–which range from the very vintage (1931!) to the very modern. Every lesson also contains an optional movement activity to get the kids moving and off the couch.
Ultimate Kindergarten Bundle from Some Call It Destiny is comprised of six different workbooks focusing on skills learned in kindergarten. Kids will enjoy the fun animal themes. Use them to teach, refresh, or reinforce concepts.
K-2 Summer Power Hour Bundle (Math Centers!) from Create Your Homeschool is perfect for keeping math skills fresh throughout the summer! This bundle is geared towards students in Kindergarten through Second Grade and covers topics such as: telling time, counting coins, comparing values, and more! Each section uses hands-on activities that are fun and engaging to keep summer learning exciting, which helps the transition from summer break to fall learning quick and smooth for everyone!

 

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Karis

    Thank you, Julie, for all your wise and experienced advice!

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