So, you are thinking about homeschooling? How do you feel about that? Deciding to homeschool can be one of the scariest decisions a parent can make because there is so much to think about. I have great news for you. It’s not as hard as it seems! Here is your ultimate guide to getting you started on the right foot with confidence.
Where to Start with Homeschooling
The best place to start is with your “why.” Why are you thinking of homeschooling? Why do you want this for your family? Write it down. Say it out loud. Paint it on your wall if you want! You now have a vision.
Make a list of pros and cons. Be honest about both. You need to look at the whole picture to be confident in your decision. A good rule of thumb is to write down why you are homeschooling in August, so you can take it out to remind yourself in January.
Our number one reason for homeschooling comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God places an important emphasis on educating future generations in His Word and He gives us clear instructions for our homes and how we are to raise and educate our children. An education that is based on a solid Biblical philosophy is the priority for our family.
Dealing with Resistance
You may find that people who don’t understand homeschooling will give you a hard time. Don’t let their negativity persuade you away from homeschooling your children. If someone asks you questions like “What about Algebra and Chemistry?” or “What about socialization?” Here is how to handle them without sowing self-doubt.
If your child is just starting kindergarten, you don’t need to know what you will do about anything beyond kindergarten. No one is asking public school kindergarten parents, “What about AP Spanish?” That is years away. Years do go quickly, but you really only need to focus on this year. So, just reply, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
On to the socialization question…ask them to define socialization, and then move on. Most people don’t even know what socialization means. Homeschooling is not some backwoods, underground movement. Today, it is as mainstream as charter schools and abounding with opportunities. In fact, most homeschool families struggle to actually be home!
However, even if you are not on the road every day for co-op, classes, meet-ups, and field trips; socialization is the skill of being able to relate to others, form relationships, and handle yourself out in the world. My kids get plenty of socialization between church, extracurricular activities like dance, hanging out with their grandparents and cousins, and Awanas.
After all, formal school (aka public school) is the only time in your life that you are segregated by age and ability. How is that socialization?
Legality of Homeschooling
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states of the USA, Canada, and most countries around the world. You can learn more about the homeschool laws here.
Each state does have its own regulations and requirements. If you are considering homeschooling, your first stop should be checking out HSLDA which is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, to see what your state requires of homeschool families and how to proceed. Even in the most restrictive states, homeschooling is still a completely viable option.
Are You Qualified to Teach?
Yes, you are! In fact, God cares about this very much! When we think about educating our children, we don’t automatically think that it’s a gift and a calling from God. The wonderful thing is that God has equipped us for this good work! Don’t think that if you don’t have a college education or experience teaching that you’re not qualified to teach your children.
What qualifies you is quite simple. You are their mother! God has called and equipped you when your sons and daughters were in your womb. Think about it this way. Parents teach their children every day! You taught your child how to get dressed, how to potty, how to speak, how to safely go up and down the stairs, how to ride a bike, how to write his name….the list goes on and on. These sweet lessons are part of life at home. Home educating your children is the same.
If you’re not homeschooling yet, helping your child with their homework turns you into teachers whether they know it or not. If you are spending hours each night reviewing multiplication, working through essay writing, helping a child match shapes and colors, etc, guess what, you are already homeschooling!
Being a homeschool parent does not mean you are the only one allowed to teach your child, it just means you are the one in charge of overseeing their complete education. If you really do not feel like you “qualify” to teach, (which you are) you can still homeschool by building a program of online schools, co-ops, and tutors. There is always a way to homeschool!
There are a variety of homeschool methods and styles. Before you purchase any curriculum, I suggest that you research which style is right for you. Unfortunately, many of these styles are not Biblical. My husband and I researched many, many, many months to make sure the style lined up with our beliefs and we concluded that the best homeschool style for us is Classical education. Check out the video below for a fantastic overview of Classical Education.
Just like homeschool styles, there is a variety of homeschool curriculum! But don’t let this be overwhelming. It’s easy to think that there should only be one right choice but the reality is that you may find yourself using several different curriculums. And that’s okay! You can check out my homeschool curriculum reviews HERE!
Here are a few of my favorites:
If you’re looking for an affordable all-in-one curriculum that covers K-12, check out Schoolhouse Teachers!
My number one tip for curriculums is don’t buy all the things! I know it’s tempting to want to purchase everything you can get your hands on but the truth is you need to be wise and minimalistic. The last thing you want is to have a bunch of curriculum on your hands that you’ve never touched. It’ll become nothing but wasted money.
Planning & Organization
This is important. You will want to have a plan of action for your homeschool day and year. You will also want to be organized. Using a Homeschool Planner is a great way to organize and plan. You’ll need to know what subjects and lessons you’re going to work on ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to find what you need and get sidetracked or lose motivation.
I like to plan 3-4 weeks ahead so I know what to expect. This helps me stay organized and on top of things.
This is where you will have to check your state laws for requirements. For us in Tennessee, we are required to do 4 hours of homeschool for 180 days per year. Those 4 hours are not spent all at the kitchen table doing book work. On the contrary, we take every opportunity to learn throughout the day. Whether it’s a life skill like folding laundry or taking the measurements we need to make pancakes into a math lesson. Learning is constant and consistent.
We also choose to homeschool year-round on a 4 day school week. On the 5th day, we do a home blessing day where we do tons of life skills like cleaning, meal prep, organizing, etc. Day 6 is a chill family day and Day 7 is the Sabbath where we rest on the Lord’s day.
Setting Up Your Homeschool
I know it’s hard not to get discouraged when you see all of those amazingly beautiful homeschool rooms and spaces on Instagram and Pinterest. I’ll be the first to tell you that my homeschool space looks nothing like what you see there! Our setup is quite simple and that’s okay. We do school at the kitchen table and on our sofa. It’s sufficient and effective! Keep in mind that school at home DOES NOT need to look like an actual school. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can do if from the comforts of home where it’s cozy, relaxed and safe. For more ideas on setting up your homeschool check out this article that I wrote What To Do When You Don’t Have A Homeschool Room.
I love going to regional homeschool conferences such as the Teach Them Diligently Convention. But what I love even more is attending an online homeschool conference! Not only is it easier logistically, but it’s easier on my pocketbook! Homeschool conferences are a great way to learn more, connect with others and grow on your homeschool journey. Here are a few of my favorites:
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Look for local resources for homeschooling. Begin your search on Facebook by typing in your hometown, state, or region plus “homeschool.” This will let you know what is out there. Join local Facebook groups and connect with veteran homeschoolers and actually seeing the range of options available will give you confidence that you can do this. It will also open doors to find the resources you need. The homeschool world is exploding. There has never been a better time to start. My local homeschool Facebook groups are my favorite place to learn about local places we can go on field trips. It’s great!
Treasure This Time
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20 to go out and make disciples. The most important disciples in your life are sitting at your kitchen table. This is where you put it all in perspective. The days are long but the years are short. Cherish this time with your sweet children because before you know it, they will be all grown up. This time homeschooling your children is a precious gift where you have the opportunity to build relationships, memories, and disciples.
What is your biggest question about beginning to homeschool?
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