Get started homeschooling with this easy-peasy 5 Step guide!
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These 5 easy-to-follow steps will walk you through what you need in order to get started with at-home learning!
Even if you live in one of the more highly regulated states like we do (New York) it's actually a simple and straightforward process.
I am a former public school teacher and homeschooled my daughter from kindergarten through high school. It was truly never on my bucket list, but it's the way things went, and it was a good fit for my daughter and our family!
Be sure to also check out our post on 25+ Best Homeschool Resources and Materials to be Successful for tried and true books and learning sites to get educational ball rolling!
Here are the five main steps with some other helpful tips and resources to get you started with at-home learning!
5 Steps to an Easy Peasy Homeschool Start-Up
1. Check your State's Homeschool Regulations
The very first thing you need to do is to check the homeschool regulations for your state.
Each state has their own set of guidelines for homeschooling. Some states have minimal requirements and others (like New York State) have more detailed guidelines in place.
Regardless which state and how many guidelines there are, navigating the homeschooling rules is really pretty straightforward.
To find your state's homeschool regulations, you can either do a Google search or visit the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) website. HSLDA has each state's regulations very clearly written out in an easy to navigate format. Click here to find your state.
Below is a screenshot from HSLDA's website to give you an idea of the information they have available.
In addition, HSLDA has a plethora of information and FAQs available to help find answers to your questions.
Note: My Kidz Bookshelf is not affiliated with HSLDA; we just find their site to be useful and easy to navigate.
2. Decide on a Curriculum or Learning Approach
Regardless of your reason for deciding to homeschool, you will need a plan.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you get to decide which method or learning style will work best for you and your kids.
The basics need to be covered, but how you do it is up to you.
Whether it's online, free, paid, hands-on, religious, secular--I could go on-there are plenty of different curricula out there! Needless to say, there's no shortage! A quick search will yield numerous options!
This Is What Worked for Us...
When it came time for me to put together a homeschool plan, I found this book and used it as a curriculum guide.
I knew we needed to cover the subjects and subtopics, but didn't want to be tethered to a specific curriculum.
For Cenzia's entire homeschool experience (K-12) I used Rebecca Rupp's book, Home Learning Year by Year as a guide.
It is super helpful and it's the first book I recommend to people when asked about what we used!
As a former public school teacher, I had become pretty confident with finding what worked and what didn't quite cut the mustard! Home Learning Year by Year really checked all the boxes.
Why Home Learning Year by Year is a Great Go-To Guide for Homeschooling:
Home Learning Year by Year has every subject outlined for every year Pre-K through High School
All the bases are covered for every required subject.
Subtopics are also included for every subject at every grade level.
Curriculum options, websites, and other resources are offered as options.
Book lists, games, movies and other learning extension ideas are also given.
It also contains references for further homeschool reading, research, and discussion regarding frequently asked questions pertaining to specific subjects.
Home Learning Year by Year was an ideal choice for us because it outlined very clearly everything we needed to cover but gave us the flexibility to choose which resources, materials, etc. to use.
If you are looking for a fully prepackaged curriculum, however, there are a ton of them out there! You can choose an online learning experience or go traditional with pencils and books!
For our homeschool experience, we did a little of both and added in plenty of field trips and experiences.
We are also asked frequently what materials we used and below are just a few that I wholeheartedly recommend!
Be sure to check out 25+ Best Homeschool Resources and Materials to be Successful! It has all of our fave materials in one spot!
3. Establish a Routine or Schedule
Homeschooling offers a lot of flexibility with how you structure your day.
Keep in mind that you are not going to need the same amount of time to get through the material at home as you would need in a school setting!
Learning at home is pretty efficient for many reasons. There are far less kids than in a traditional classroom as well as less downtime for switching between classes, taking turns with other students, etc.. So, adjust your routine or schedule to make it work for you!
Don't feel the need to go from 8:30 - 3:10 with every minute accounted for!
Embrace the breathing room to give yourself a few minutes here and there and your kids will enjoy the flexibility as well!
It may take some time to getting used to this approach, but eventually going with the flow will indeed feel more natural!
For us, we tried to put the core subjects in the morning and be finished by noon because that just worked best.
We were freshest after breakfast for the more challenging concepts and didn't get burned out that way.
Our afternoons were reserved for getting outside, artistic endeavors, extension activities, going to museums, bookstores, libraries, dance classes, Girl Scouts, getting together with other homeschoolers, etc.!
Cenzia photographing images for her Stay Wavy craft blog post!
You and your kids can use the extra, new-found time to explore and expound upon their personal interests, excel at the subjects they're currently studying or get outside!
When Cenzia was in ninth grade, we started planning our blog and website and published it at the end of the school year. When she was in eleventh grade, we launched our Etsy shop!
4. Whether it's Online or In Person - Stay Connected!
This is very important for both the kids and the parent(s) doing the home instruction!
We have all heard a million times how important it is for homeschoolers to have socialization opportunities. I think it's actually just as important for the parent who is doing the homeschooling!
Staying connected is definitely the answer. I am not a super social person and I still think this is tremendously important!
Whether it's a neighbor, friend or family member that also homeschools, it's really helpful to stay connected with someone who's in the same educational boat!
If you don't have anyone you know that's going the homeschool route, take to Facebook and look up 'Homeschool Groups.'
Facebook Homeschool Groups are a fantastic resource when you have questions of any kind, need inspiration, are looking for socialization opportunities and more!
I'm in two New York State Homeschool groups. Both of these groups have proven to be very helpful!
Reasons Why It's Important for Homeschooling Parents to Stay Connected:
Good support for any questions you may have
Great way to stay on top of things, i.e. regulation changes
A good resource to hear about local classes, activities, groups, etc.
If there are ever any problems with your paperwork, it's a fast way to find support and answers.
5. Homeschooling Doesn't Mean You Have to Stay Home!
Remember just because it's called homeschooling, it doesn't mean you have to spend your whole school day sitting at your dining room table!
Here are some ways to enjoy the flexibility and other opportunities that make your homeschool journey fun!
Physical Education requirements don't have to be running laps & doing push-ups! Kids can bike, hike, ski, swim, dance, do gymnastics, golf, fencing, archery, martial arts, baseball, yoga or any other physical activity that they're interested in!
Visit a museum to explore more about a topic or as a great introduction to an upcoming subject!
Take a day trip! Pack a lunch, bring the books (or leave them home!) and pick a destination!
Get social with other homeschoolers; going on a hike or meeting up at a park is a great way to get together!
Visit a local point of interest - interesting architecture, outdoor gardens, a lake or mountain all make for perfect choices!
Take advantage of your local libraries. Libraries have a multitude of resources and knowledgeable staff to give suggestions for not only learning materials but they also have terrific programing.
Participating in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts is great for socialization and other learning connections.
Volunteering or doing community service is a terrific option for homeschoolers with their flexible schedules!
When available, attending or participating in the arts and performances is a fantastic way to learn about and enjoy the arts!
Many states require a Letter of Intent to homeschool.
If you are in New York State like us, here is the New York State website with all of the regulations and information for homeschooling.
Here is a sample of a Letter of Intent to Homeschool:
Here is a sample of a Letter of Intent to Homeschool in New York State:
Here's Our Easy Peasy Homeschool
Start-Up in a Nutshell
1. Check your State Regulations
2. Select a Curriculum or Learning Approach
3. Establish a Routine or Schedule
4. Stay Connected-whether it's In-Person or Online
5. Homeschooling Doesn't Mean You Have to Stay Home!
Here are some more of our posts that you may be interested in that may come in handy on your homeschool journey!
I hope you found 5 Steps to Get Started With Homeschooling useful!
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Updated on 08/25/2023. Originally published on 07/22/2020