boys reading a book together

How to Start Homeschooling

Overview: Homeschooling is a fast-growing trend. Keeping your kids out of public schools can be intimidating. Check out my tips for how to start homeschooling.


I hear from people all the time asking me how they can pull their children out of school and start homeschooling. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by how frequently I am asked this question. School classrooms are typically set up to provide optimal learning conditions for girls, rather than boys. Most boys benefit from being more active than the typical schoolroom allows.

Not to mention all of the new confusion, the concern about illness, the disdain of virtual learning, and so many other new issues that have cropped up in 2020. Record numbers of parents are now looking into homeschooling who would never have dreamed of doing so before.

How to Start Homeschooling: 5 Easy Steps

All children have the opportunity to thrive when they are educated at home. Boys do really well in the homeschool environment because they end up with lots of time to run around and get out their extra energy and to explore their interests. Plus, they don’t have hours of additional homework at night, which is really helpful for the whole family. You can use that time to play games with each other, talk, and really get to know your sons. It’s wonderful!

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I start homeschooling?” you are in the right place. Here are some helpful tips to get you headed in the right direction:

Step One – Research the Homeschool Laws in Your State/Country

Homeschooling is legal in every state in the U.S. as well as in many other places around the world. The tricky thing is that the laws vary greatly from place to place. It’s important for you to research and comply with the laws in your area.

If you are in the United States or in one of the U.S. Territories, you can find out about your local laws by going to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association‘s website. Hopefully, the state you live in is green or yellow so that you don’t have too many hoops to jump through. Although, I’ve talked to homeschoolers in high regulation states and they feel that they’re also able to enjoy quite a bit of freedom while homeschooling. So don’t despair even if your state is red.

If you live outside of the United States, HSLDA has information about the homeschool laws in many international locations as well.

In my state of Michigan, if we start homeschooling our children from the very beginning, we don’t even have to notify our school district of our intent. If we are pulling our children out of public school, then the notification requirements are still minimal.

It can be intimidating thinking about completing this step because it basically commits us to become homeschoolers – at least for now. But many parents decide year to year whether they will continue homeschooling or put their kids back into school. Try not to get too overwhelmed. You’ll feel so much better once you get this put behind you. Fulfill the requirements of your state and move on to step two.

Step Two – Choose a Curriculum

We are so fortunate these days that there are a plethora of curriculum options out there for homeschoolers. There are so many different products with different strengths and amounts of hands-on learning from which to choose. The important thing to remember is that just because you decided to try a publisher this year, that doesn’t mean you need to continue using it throughout your entire homeschooling experience.

Every year you will want to take a step back and evaluate the curriculum you’ve been using. Ask yourself how it has been working for you and your children? Were there enough hands-on activities to keep the enjoyment in your boys’ learning?

Some parents who are new to homeschooling have concerns that they will be able to work with each of their children individually to provide for their educational needs. I want to assure you that you certainly can work with your children and meet them where they’re at even if they are vastly different.

boys-active-learning

It can seem intimidating but remember that homeschooling doesn’t take anywhere near as long as educating kids in a classroom because we’re able to work 1-on-1 with each child rather than trying to manage 20-30 kids at a time as do teachers in classrooms. And when our children are young, 2-3 hours a day is more than enough for them to get through all of their studies.

Plus, quite a lot of subjects can be done together – especially if your kids are close in age. My sons are 15 months apart so I always taught science, history, and Bible together. My sons completed reading and math at their own pace, however they usually sat in on each other’s lessons. And my younger son always learned things at a younger age because of that.

Remember that homeschooling isn’t the same as “school at home”. You don’t have to try to replicate the school down the street. It should be more a lifestyle filled with learning.

Step Three – Get Organized

Look over the entire year of the curriculum to determine what materials you will need to acquire that you wouldn’t normally have around the house. Then, every week, take a look at the next week’s lessons to get the schoolwork organized and ready for your child to perform.

This sounds harder than it is. Simply familiarize yourself with the teacher’s manuals, gather the necessary materials, and you’re all set. I always put each day’s assignments into separate folders to make daily preparation quick and simple. That way I can get each day’s lessons ready over the weekend and just switch folders each morning before we begin.

I have written a thorough blog post which has step-by-step videos detailing my Realistic Homeschool Planning Method if you’d like further details in this area.

Step Four – Set Up Your Area

You do NOT need a separate classroom available in order to homeschool although some people choose to have one. My sons do their schoolwork at the dining room table, on the living room floor, standing in the kitchen, wandering around outside, and while sitting on the couch. You may want to get your child a clipboard so that they can take their assignments wherever they feel most comfortable. When the weather is nice it is fun to do assignments at a picnic table outside or letting them going into a tree fort to complete their reading. Think outside of the box!

If you don’t have a dedicated classroom space, it is extremely helpful to have a spot where you will store your materials so that they aren’t spread all over the dining room table day after day. Our family makes good use of those plastic filing cabinets, expanding file folders, and/ a school supplies caddy that you can get from most stores because they’re cheap.

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Step Five – Get Started

You may want to check out a homeschooling support group in your area. There are also many organizations that provide field trips, sports, and many other learning opportunities for homeschooled children.

I would also recommend spending some time reading aloud to your children every day! I learned that it was best to start out with this time while my sons were eating breakfast. It was a nice, gentle way to start our day. Plus, it ensured that we didn’t get so wrapped up in the other lessons that we would run out of time and be tempted to skip it.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to start homeschooling your children with minimal stress. Have fun and enjoy this wonderful time that you will be able to spend with your children. Remember, your lack of formal training as a teacher will be more than made up for by your love for your kids and your desire to see them excel to their full and unique potential.

Question:  Do you have any other questions about how to start homeschooling? Please leave a comment below.

How to Start Homeschooling: 5 Easy Steps

 

12 thoughts on “How to Start Homeschooling”

  1. Gabriela Arriola

    Objetives related whith child’s age and interests.
    Tons of love. Faith in God.
    I’m starting whith My 2 boys, 5 and 3 years old.
    Greettings from MΓ©xico!

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Great to hear from you, Gabriela. Have fun with those boys! Learning is so much fun at their ages. I’d love to hear updates from you from time to time. May God bless your efforts mightily! πŸ™‚

  2. Hi! We pulled our six year old out of first grade in public school mid year! Our then four year old was attending a half day preK program. Needless to say, this was the very best decision my husband and I could have ever made for our boys. Now 5, and 6, we are trusting God as we go. I am thankful when I stumble across a blog like yours Michelle! This is a treasure for moms like me who homeschool two boys. You really can’t follow a standard way or strict method with boys. We have to be prepared to think out of the box, have plenty of hands on activities available, and an extra seat of patience, lol. Thanks for your shared wisdom and experiences!!!!

    1. So good to hear from you! And thank-you for your kind words. I’m glad homeschooling is going well for you and your boys. I think you hit on the key – trusting God as we go.

      Check back after your website is up and let me know… I’d love to check it out! πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Michelle,

    I’ve been crying out to God my desire to homeschool our 3-year old son. My husband and I are convinced of all the advantages it can do to our son, but we just don’t know exactly what to do. There are homeschooling groups here in the Philippines, but also quite pricey at our current financial status. And I feel like my son is left behind while everyone else his age is being sent to school.

    Thanks to your generosity that I can read advice from your blog. My son is turning 4 in October and I haven’t formally started yet with a curriculum. My husband and I get home from work around 7pm and I’m not sure if there’s a chance for me to homeschool my son with that kind of schedule. I might just work somewhere with a night schedule so I could homeschool my son in the morning. If only I could quit working and stay at home…

    Do you think homeschooling my son would be possible even if I work outside? How much time does it usually take a day to homeschool boys age 3-4? Thank you so much for your advice Michelle. I’ll definitely share your blog to people I know.

    Blessings to you!

    Sincerely,
    Fatima

    1. Michelle Caskey

      It’s definitely possible to work and homeschool at the same time. Your son is still very young so just an hour or two a day max is all you should need. Start by just doing one or two activities and move up from there as he is interested. Reading books to him is the most important thing that you can do. πŸ™‚

      Trying to do much with him after 7pm might be very difficult unless he is a night owl. You’ll have to see what works for your family. If it’s possible for you to switch your hours around, that might be a good thing. I know that my boys have always had an easier time working on their schoolwork in the morning. But there are some families who do it at night.

      If you’re looking for fun preschool activities that you can do with your son, be sure to check out my blog page which is filled with suggestions: https://www.homeschool-your-boys.com/homeschool-preschool-curriculum.html

      And if you have any other specific questions, I’d love to help if I can. Take care and I hope you have a wonderful homeschooling journey with your son!

      1. Thank you so much for your reply, Michelle.
        I don’t get advice like this when I ask people around.
        While I am convinced that I can spend my life homeschooling my son, I don’t get much encouragement from people I know. I feel like I’m going against the flow.
        Here in the Philippines, it’s not common to homeschool children. When you say you’re homeschooling, you’d be frown upon and receive comments like: you’re not sending your child to school? he’ll just stay at home? and more comments as if you’re depriving your child of the right to education.

        Michelle, I want to do this homeschooling right and I know I have challenges to face. Just recently, a family friend, an ESL teacher who homeschooled their son in China came back to the Phils and this time they prefer to enroll their son in a good school instead. He commented that there was this study that homeschooling works better for expats type and may not work better if you are homeschooling from your country of origin. May I know your insights on that?
        I hope it’s not true. Because I don’t want to begin something I could not finish.

        Thanks in advance for your reply.

        Blessings to you!

        1. Michelle Caskey

          It’s not common to homeschool in the United States, either. Most people sent their kids to public schools. So as homeschoolers, we ARE going against the flow. Each year, there are more and more homeschoolers, however. And in the States, we have quite a bit of support for homeschooling. There are co-ops and sports that kids can join. And there are lots of homeschooling conferences that we can attend in the spring and summer. Are there any conferences that you could attend in the Philippines? It feels so good to be surrounded by like-minded people who can help you to understand the way the laws work and who can help you iron out any issues you’re having with your kiddos.

          As for not being able to finish, that is something you don’t have to worry about. I would be careful about taking the advice of someone who is a teacher – or someone who stopped homeschooling – because their opinion may be skewed. Just because he chose not to continue homeschooling his son doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be able to.

          Some people choose to name their homeschool and when people ask where their son goes to school, they simply give the name of their homeschool so that they don’t have to continually get into conversations about why they aren’t sending their kids to the local school. I’ve heard people choose things such as Reagan Academy (named after a president) or Maple Grove Prep School (named after a physical characteristic in your area.) πŸ™‚

          I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.

          1. Fatima Odiver

            Oh, this is truly encouraging. Thanks, Michelle. I’ll try to find a homeschooling conference or group here in the Philippines and if not, I have your blog anyway. I’ve bookmarked it and will keep reading your articles. Thanks! I should start thinking of a name for our home school. πŸ™‚

  4. I think parents also need to pray over the choice to homeschool. My reason for homeschooling is in Deuteronomy 6, and obedience to God’s Word keeps me motivated even when I am tired or my daughter has a bad day or I am feeling helpless. I know I am called to teach them in every way I can. I think parents need to take the charge seriously and prayerfully. It is a huge undertaking. We need God to give us fruit in our lives that will nourish our children spiritually and intellectually.

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