The Best Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling 2022-2023
Homeschooling isn’t new, and every year, it gains more traction as more families make the decision to take charge of their child’s education – especially now since many things have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I, myself, started homeschooling 8 years ago with my first child. It was new and even frightening at times because although I had experience teaching in an infant, toddler, and preschool environment prior to giving birth, this was still an entirely new feat. But thankfully, I researched and found a significant amount of information online about how to get my homeschool started when my first child was still very young.
8 years later, I can say that I’ve learned insurmountable amounts of information on the best strategies and methods that work for my family. And this wasn’t all due to reading books and articles on homeschooling, this was also through my own trial and error – learning from my mistakes as a homeschooling mom.
But because you’ve stumbled upon this guide, you’re going to discover some very helpful homeschooling tips and advice so you don’t have to do as much research as I did when I started. I’ve done A LOT of work for you. Just keep reading…
Disclosure: Hey! Just a quick note: some of the links in this post may be affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase or to join, I will earn a commission, at no extra cost to you. But just know that I recommend these companies and their products because of their quality and my experience with them and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you. I love and appreciate you regardless! You can review my full disclosure here. xo, Tessa
What is Homeschooling?
In a nutshell, homeschooling is simply schooling your child outside of the traditional school environment (public, charter, private, etc.).
Homeschooling doesn’t mean you only learn “at home”. When you homeschool, the WORLD is your classroom. Everything around you and at every chance is a learning opportunity for your child. You explore together. You can even meet up with other families to learn together. You can sign your child up for online classes where they can interact socially with other kids. I mean, the options and opportunities are endless.
One of the BEST advantages of homeschooling, and many families can attest to this, is that you can control your child’s learning environment much better than you would if they were going to brick and mortar school every day. (’cause it can get crazy up in there!)
While there are many styles of schooling you can choose from like Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Unschooling, Traditional, and so many more, you should be able to take one main thing away about homeschooling – IT IS YOUR SCHOOL. You make the rules. You create your schedule. You pick your curriculum. So on and so forth.
BUT VERY IMPORTANT: Please remember that every state has its own requirements for homeschoolers. Check out the next section for more specific information about this.
Quick Guide to Homeschooling
So you’ve made the decision to homeschool for whatever reason, we have all been there. We all have had our first day. Here are a few steps to help you get started without bursting your brain:
Find out what specific homeschooling laws apply to your state. You should be able to Google this easily. This information should be available on your state’s educational website. Find out about any specific requirements that must be met prior to starting and throughout your homeschooling journey. Just choose your state.
Define your WHY, your goals, your vision, and what you aspire to accomplish through your homeschool. THIS is so important because this will become the pillar of what you do and what your children do throughout your journey. This is what you will continually fall back on when you get “stuck” because there will be times when you get stuck. We need to remember our WHY so that when it gets tough, we remember WHY we are doing what we are doing. So be clear on this WHY. Take some time to really think about it.
And beware that your goals and your children’s goals will change as your family grows and changes and as you meet those goals. Your vision will define what you aspire to see in the future. So what do you want to see in your children in the future? What do you want to see in you in the future?
Designate your main homeschool space. This space will be where you and your children have their main school lessons each day and where they will complete their assignments. This space should be consistent and not moved all around the house. When you establish a specific place that homeschooling is expected to occur each day, your children will become more serious about “school time”. They will know what to expect and where.
You also want to make sure each child has their own, consistent working area. Have them sit in the same chair, desk, and area each day. This will help them take ownership of their space. Pinterest has awesome homeschool room set up ideas.
Pick and choose what curriculum you will be using and extracurricular activities you will be doing. This may be the most challenging part about homeschooling – trying to figure out what to teach your children and how. But I promise you, it’s not as hard as you may think it is. In the beginning, you may be intimidated by the thousands of curriculum options out there. But please don’t run away!
As you grow and learn through experience, trial, and error, you will figure out what works and what doesn’t. You will know where to look and where to buy. But to save you a little bit of headache, here’s a starting list of places to look for curriculum that we have used and loved. I am confident you and your children will LOVE them too!
1. Mardel Christian and Education (Even if you’re not Christian, this store has hundreds of options for you at really affordable prices.)
2. Dollar Tree (Believe me, this store always has bargain schooling resources that are simple and effective.)
3. Barnes & Noble (With such a variety, I cannot keep them off the list, but, I can often find the same book for a cheaper price. But just in case this is your “store”, this is an okay place to find homeschool curriculum.)
4. Amazon (If you know exactly what you are searching for, Amazon is a great place to find pretty much everything you need to build your child’s curriculum for the year at a reasonable and sometimes discounted price.)
5. Rainbow Resources (Another great online option that has thousands to choose from at a discounted price.)
6. Christian Book (Another great online option that is similar to Rainbow Resources.)
I also recommend you follow my TOP 5 teacher leaders in the homeschooling community because they have TONS of affordable, homeschooling curriculum options for preschool-3rd grade.
Create your homeschooling schedule. The reason why I put choosing your curriculum before creating your schedule is that it’s easier to know what you’ll be covering in the school year before you actually create your schedule to execute it. When you’re creating this schedule, be sure to allow room for flexibility for unexpected errands, appointments, or emergencies that tend to interrupt everyone’s routine every once in a while.
But even with measures in place in case of unexpected circumstances, still, make sure to be consistent in what order each subject and activity is completed daily. (e.g. If you start with reading and then math, keep it the same. Don’t switch it up the next day.)
When creating your homeschooling schedule, I recommend starting from yearly planning, to monthly planning, to weekly planning, then to daily planning. Determine how many days you will be homeschooling for the school year. Many homeschooling families opt to follow the schedule of the school district they live in, which typically follows a 180-day school year with scheduled holiday breaks. This is very common, but yours can be different. You may choose to formally school 4 days a week with one day off. It’s all dependent on your homeschooling goals.
Whatever you choose, it is great to have a planner specifically dedicated to homeschool. Plan your year, holiday breaks, etc. Then, decide on your monthly or weekly extracurricular activities. Then, plan out your daily schedule. You may have to tinker with it from time to time based on things that change so this isn’t a permanent thing.
Just try to be as consistent as possible most of the time. Things happen. That’s the glory of homeschool – the ability to be flexible and not be punished for it.
If you need help organizing your day so you don’t go crazy trying to put all of this together, I HIGHLY recommend enrolling in Jordan Page’s Productivity Bootcamp course. I’m currently in the process of completing it, and it’s already changing my life.
In this program, she guides you through creating productivity systems to help you CONQUER your day every day and feel accomplished while doing it. You also get to be a part of a growing and encouraging community in the Productivity Bootcamp Facebook group.
But I can’t recommend her enough. Find out more about Jordan and gain access to dozens of free content that will change your life as a homeschooling parent!
Create a homeschooling record-keeping system because you need it! And you should have this in place BEFORE you start because I’m telling you, if you wait, you will end up with piles and piles and piles and piles of random math tests, drawings, etc. all over the place.
But if you know how to keep and dispose of these things as they come, you will be able to keep a handle on all the stuff you will acquire from your kids’ work. (ask me how I know…)
I have tried many systems in the past, but the one system that has truly saved me loads of stress is very simple: one, medium-large file folder box, hanging file folders, and labels for each child’s work from preschool to 12th grade.
Super simple. Super quick. Super manageable. Super “unstressful”. This homeschooler inspired me to adopt this method.
These are just 6 beginning steps that will help guide you in structuring your new homeschool and can even inspire you if you’ve been doing it already.
Tips for Success in Homeschooling
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to homeschooling. Homeschooling will change your life and your children’s life most definitely, but let it be for the good and not for the worst by considering these following tips:
Don’t overdo it. Especially when you are first starting out. Keep things simple. The younger your child is, the more simple and relaxed it should be. In their beginning years, you want to focus on nurturing your child’s natural-born curiosity to learn new things. Build on things they are already interested in and create learning activities from their interests.
Not only does this keep learning relevant for them, but it will also create a learning environment that is child-driven, which is when true learning happens and sticks. The older your child gets is the perfect opportunity for you to allow them to make more choices so you don’t have to – as applicable.
Don’t stress over it. Boy am I preachin’ to the choir! It is soooooo easy to stress when you care about something so much. But do your best to focus on what you and your children are capable of doing. Focus on each day as it comes and don’t get worked up if your schedule doesn’t go as planned.
I am very confident that every adult on this Earth can attest to the fact that sometimes and some days and even some WEEKS, things just DON’T go as planned. You’ve got to know when to pivot and make the best of it and press forward. You’ve got to know when something just ain’t workin’ and it’s time to switch it up.
Don’t get upset if that “fun” activity you had planned threw up in your face. It’s okay. It happens. Set it aside and try it another day or rather, evaluate whether or not it’s even necessary. If you need to, take a break from the normal routine. You never know, your kids just may need that break too.
Be kind to yourself. Being a homeschooling parent is not an easy feat, especially if you’ve taken your children from traditional schooling to a total homeschool environment and you’ve never taught a single school subject ever in your life.
I can guarantee you that some days will be so busy and stressful that you want to quit. Other days, you may feel so bored that you can’t stand being in the house any longer. Truth is, no one is perfect and we all have our good days and our “I’m about to go crazy up in here!” days. (Totally been there…). But you have to remember that this is a journey.
Ups and downs are expected and you should never beat yourself up if you feel like you “sucked” at teaching today. The best thing you can give your child is not a “perfect” parent, but a consistent and committed parent. When you show commitment to your mission for your children, they will live and grow to admire that more than your “bad” days.
Be strong. Be encouraged. You got this.
Common Questions/FAQ About Homeschooling
- How much does homeschooling cost?
- This is totally dependent upon you, your children’s curriculum needs, and the overall structure of your homeschooling program. There are many free resources out there to help you piece together your own curriculum to satisfy your children’s needs.
- There are also paid programs and curriculum sets that you can purchase so you don’t have to go searching. So this price range varies. There are many helpful YouTube videos comparing online homeschooling programs and book-based programs. So ultimately, this cost is based on and controlled by you!
- Is homeschooling right for my child?
- I think homeschooling is one of the most natural ways for children to learn. They are at home, in their comfort zone, and around people, they are familiar with. So yes, I believe that homeschooling is right for every child when they are in the right home environment that will inspire and nurture them into responsible, creative, contributing members of society.
- Why do some parents decide to homeschool?
- There are many reasons families decide to homeschool. A few of them are for religious reasons, safety reasons, and simply, convenience. I decided to homeschool for religious reasons, and I am very glad I was obedient in doing so because when my oldest child was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with a speech impediment that made it very challenging for him to express himself verbally. I could never have imagined putting him in a school and he wouldn’t be able to describe to me what happened at school – especially if something happened that threatened his safety. So keeping him at home was the BEST decision I could have ever made. It has made me a better teacher, mother, and mentor.
- But I must also mention that homeschooling gives parents the upper hand in controlling their child’s learning and social environment. Homeschoolers don’t usually have to worry about bullying or aggressive classroom environments that may cause their child to fall behind academically or be abused emotionally, physically and mentally. It is so relieving to know that your child is at home learning with you where you can monitor them rather than at a school miles away from where you can’t monitor them.
- Is it safer to homeschool?
- This ties into my previous answer, but I also want to mention that there are some children who may not have the safest home situations. Every household is different and unfortunately, there are some situations where abuse is present, which won’t promote the ideal homeschool learning environment for them. In these cases, I would say that learning at home may not be a positive experience for them.
- This brings me to say that we, as parents and educators, create our child’s learning environment. We have the ability to create something positive, enriching, and inspiring or demeaning, frustrating, and uninviting.
- Everyone’s definition of “safe” may vary. But in general, homeschooling is safer than sending your child to a school where you basically have no control over what happens when they set foot on school property.
- Do my children still have to take standardized tests?
- Some states do require homeschooled children to take standardized tests. Make sure to check your state’s homeschooling laws to see if this is applicable to you and how you would need to plan. If they must take standardized tests, you should be sure to plan your curriculum to support this.
- Will my child be socially awkward?
- Definitely not. Listen, children will be children. They have their own, unique personalities and they will shine when they are ready to shine. And think of it this way: there are many children that some may consider socially awkward who actually go to a brick and mortar school. Your child’s social experiences are nurtured by you and as they grow older, they will know how to nurture their own experiences. So “homeschooling” has nothing to do with how your child will respond to and interact with people around them. Rather, it is how you choose to teach and raise them that can affect this.
- But if you are concerned with your child interacting with children their age, there are many things you can do with your child to promote their social development like going to the park and meeting other kids, going on a play date, and playing with siblings and extended family members. Your child will BE FINE! I promise you.
- How can I help my child with subjects I’m not good at teaching?
- Everyone has their favorite and non-favorite subjects. My favorite subject is anything reading and writing. My least favorite? You guessed it. MATH! UGHHHH! I dread it. Even when I was in school, it was my most disliked subject. And my attitude toward math definitely shows when I am teaching my children math. The older they get, the more frustrated I get with teaching them math because the concepts aren’t getting easier. They’re more complex, and these new ways of teaching adding, subtracting, etc are just BEYOND me sometimes.
- But what has really helped me is choosing a curriculum that teaches me how to teach them best and having access to videos and even online classes that will teach them certain concepts that I’m not good at teaching. So these resources are out there to help you help your child – even when you’re not good at it. Don’t think you have to teach them everything all of your own. SO FAR from the truth. You can “a la carte” some subjects through online classes or even private tutoring and teach them the other subjects.
- Do I need to homeschool every day and how long do I need to homeschool every day?
- Homeschooling laws are different for each state so the first thing I’ll say is to check with your local homeschooling laws. But in general, you establish your own homeschooling schedule. This includes choosing which days of the week you homeschool. You may opt for 3-4 days and about 1-3 hours each day where you are formally guiding your child through their assignments.
- But remember, younger children LOVE and thrive on “playing”. A child’s play is a child’s work – whether it seems like work or not. They are being creative actors, musicians, chefs, etc. and they are building skills that a workbook or video will never be able to teach them.
- Will my child get a diploma and be able to attend college?
- There are many online programs that will help you create a diploma for your child or you can create one yourself. Just find a nifty template and go for it! Most colleges accept homeschool diplomas as long as a detailed record of your child’s high school classes and credits are included. But if you created a student portfolio for your child, this is also good to have in case your child’s school asks to see samples of their work.
- Every college is different so when your child is preparing to enter high school, I would double-check this information by calling a list of colleges your child may apply to so you can have what you need ready and organized rather than scrambling their senior year to get it in order.
- Can my child play on a sports team?
- Um, yes! Why not? There are many sports teams and extracurricular groups that are not affiliated with a specific school or district but check with them specifically to find out about their open and off-seasons.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Homeschooling
Remember, homeschooling is a journey! Don’t try to be super mom or macho dad. You will live, learn, grow, and prosper if you learn to take it one day at a time, focusing on small goals before big ones.
If this post has helped you in any way or enlightened you even a tad bit, share it with someone else or pin it to your Pinterest board. I’d love to read your comments down below too! Let’s create a positive community by sharing our own experiences.
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