How to Start Homeschooling your Kids made Easy

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You’re interested in learning how to start homeschooling your kids, huh? Well, you’re in the right place! Let me be the first to congratulate you on taking this exciting journey into education beyond the traditional classroom. Whether you’re new to homeschooling or just need a refresher, let’s dive into the basics of getting started!

This article was originally published in 2020, but was updated & revamped in 2024.

Why Choose Homeschooling?

First things first, why homeschool? Well, there are as many reasons as there are families! Maybe you’re drawn to the flexibility it offers or you want to tailor education to your child’s unique needs and interests. Perhaps you seek a more personalized approach or wish to foster a closer family bond through shared learning experiences. Maybe you’re seeking a healthier environment for your child’s social emotional needs. Whatever your reason, know that homeschooling opens doors to creativity and individualized learning like no other.

When my husband and I decided to start homeschooling our boys in 2020, I was completely overwhelmed. In the years leading up to 2020, we had been dealing number of issues that made me question whether or not traditional schooling was right for my kids. For a number of years, my boys had thrived in the public school setting, but bullying and the quality of education had us thinking they might do better as homeschoolers.

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Even though I was a teacher before I had my boys, the thought of homeschooling my kids still scared the heck out of me. I had always viewed myself as “only” their mom and not their teacher. (why does society make us think this way?!) You guys…I was so wrong.

The events of 2020 were the final straw and, that summer, we officially withdrew our children from the public school system. Suddenly, it would be up to us (mainly me) to choose the choose the curriculum, set up lesson plans, organize field trips, and so much more. The weight of these decisions left me beyond stressed out.

I did what I do best and researched the heck out of everything relating to homeschooling. You may be doing the same. You may be overwhelmed and worried that you’re somehow going to screw up your kids by homeschooling them. You may be scared.

Take it from me: all of those feelings (and then some) are completely normal. The way I see it, those are all signs that you’re a great parent and want the absolute best for your child.

You got this.

boys feeding nectar to the lorikeets at butterfly world
Because we homeschool, we get to travel more! We had such an amazing time visiting and learning at Butterfly World.

Know Your State Regulations

Before you dive headfirst into lesson planning and purchasing curriculum, take a moment to familiarize yourself with your state’s homeschooling regulations. Requirements vary from state to state and it’s very important that you are well versed in what’s required from notification procedures to academic standards. Don’t worry, though—most states offer plenty of resources and support for homeschooling families. A quick online search or visit to your state’s department of education website should point you in the right direction.

My friend over at Blessed Homeschool has an excellent series on homeschooling in all 50 states. Yours truly even wrote the New Jersey article back before we moved to Georgia. Those articles are a great starting point!

Define Your Realistic Homeschooling Expectations

I know it can be difficult to know your homeschooling expectations right at the beginning, but take a minute to think about this: are you planning on homeschooling for the remainder of your child’s education or are you planning on sending them back to traditional schooling at some point?

Your answer may certainly change throughout the educational experience, but, if you have an idea of the answer, it can really help to determine what you “need” to do while homeschooling.

For example, if the kids will likely be going back to traditional schooling in the future, it could be beneficial to select curriculum that will help them to stay on “grade level” so they’re not “behind” when they’re re-enrolled. If you plan on homeschooling indefinitely, you’ll have some wiggle room when it comes to selecting curriculum and areas of focus.

It’s a big question to answer so early in the homeschooling experience, I know. Your answer can always change, but consider taking a moment to think about the future of your child’s education to help make realistic homeschooling goals and expectations.

If you have pulled your child from traditional schooling and plan on homeschooling for the “long haul,” definitely look into deschooling before you start your new homeschool curriculum and lessons.

Elizabeth Dukart and sons taking a tour at the Kia Manufacturing Plant in Georgia
Homeschooling means more field trips! There are so many cool opportunities out there – we loved visiting the Kia Manufacturing plant to see vehicles being assembled.

Find your Local Homeschooling Community

Before you start figuring out the details in how to start homeschooling your kids, it really helped me to find support from my local homeschooling community. Do a quick search on Facebook and local homeschooling groups should come up. I found it best to do separate searches for my city, county, and state. Make sure you search for groups using the full state name and the abbreviated version, too!

There are also a number of location specific homeschooling directories that can be beneficial in finding your local homeschooling community. Homeschool Hall, for example, has a directory that shares resources organized by zip code.

In addition, local homeschooling conventions offer a unique opportunity for finding local homeschooling resources, making local homeschooling connections, learning about curriculum, and more!

Even if you’re not ready to join any local homeschooling co-ops, it’s so nice to know that there’s a local community that can provide support and suggestions when needed.

Find your Nationwide Homeschooling Community

As much as I love the local homeschooling groups I’m in, the nationwide homeschooling groups I’ve been in have been a huge help!

Secular, Eclectic, Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers is, by far, my favorite and most referenced group. The SEA Homeschoolers group is quite large and filled with homeschooling parents of all ages and experiences. I find this group to be super encouraging and helpful. Also important to note, this group does not allow suggestions for or conversations about faith-based curriculum. There are also MANY SEA sub-groups that focus on niches such as homeschooling with a chronic illness and homeschooling children that have learning challenges and special needs. All of this information can be found within the group.

Might as well join my free group, too! That Homeschool Family Hangout is small, but growing, and is proving to be a great space for forming friendships, sharing resources, and more.

click here...to find your new homeschooling community in our FREE Facebook Group! That Homeschool Family Hangout. homeschooling our kids, one adventure at at time

Define Your Homeschooling Style

Now comes the fun part: figuring out your homeschooling style! Are you drawn to the structure of a traditional curriculum, or do you prefer a more relaxed, eclectic approach? Perhaps you’re intrigued by the principles of unschooling, where learning happens organically through everyday experiences. Maybe you want to travel more and have the kids learn through immersive and hands-on experiences? Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to homeschooling. Experiment, mix and match, and find what works best for your family.

To make things even more exciting, we’re living proof that homeschooling styles can change over time! When we first started homeschooling, I bought a number of curriculum that seemed to mirror the experience of the public school setting. Over time, we switched to a mixture of Miacademy and hands-on experiences because that seemed to work better for my family.

Change is inevitable and change is good! One of the best perks of homeschooling is that a quality education can be completely customized to best fit the needs of the child and family!

While there are seemingly numerous homeschooling styles, 6 of the most common styles are:

sam learning about economics mr d math
Parents aren’t the only ones helping their children to learn! There are so many ways to outsource learning activities while homeschooling.

Traditional Homeschooling

Traditional homeschooling closely mirrors the structure and content of traditional schooling. Curriculum is often structured and uses traditional textbooks, workbooks, and standardized tests to provide education and assessment. Core subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies are typically covered and are broken up into pre-determined grade levels.

Classical Homeschooling

Classical homeschooling is based on the principles of classical education which emphasizes the study of classical literature, history, philosophy, and languages. Reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman educational practices, classical homeschooling is organized into three stages known as the Trivium: the Grammar stage (elementary years), the Logic stage (middle school years), and the Rhetoric stage (high school years).

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Named after British educator Charlotte Mason, the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling focuses on learning through living books, nature studies, narration, and short lessons. Hands-on activities and outdoor activities (all year long! Dress for the weather!) are encouraged to help children develop a sense of wonder and love of learning.

Dukart boys looking into the water of the Florida Everglades while on an airboat tour
Why just read about the Everglades when you could actually visit?! Homeschooling allows us to travel during off-peak times, making attractions more cost-effective and less crowded!

Unschooling

A child-directed approach to learning, unschooling is, in a nutshell, the complete opposite of traditional schooling. Instead of following a set curriculum, children learn naturally by pursuing their interests through experiences. This is NOT “kids do whatever they want” homeschooling. Parents are there to act as educational facilitators, instead of instructors, by ensuring their kids have the materials and opportunities for learning.

Montessori Homeschooling

Inspired by the educational philosophy and style of Maria Montessori, Montessori homeschooling emphasizes child-led & hands-on learning alongside the development of independence and self-discipline. Children are encouraged to work at their own pace and follow their own interests using Montessori-specific materials.

Eclectic Homeschooling

This is how I describe our style of homeschooling! Eclectic homeschooling is a flexible style of homeschooling that borrows from a variety of educational styles and philosophies, allowing for a completely customized learning experience for the entire family. Learning activities may be based on the child’s interests, future career goals, and learning styles. With eclectic homeschooling, there’s always room for change and an evolution in learning opportunities.

Keep in mind, every family is different. Every child is different. The homeschooling style that works wonderfully for one child, may not work well for the other. Ultimately, homeschooling isn’t “only” about academics – it’s about the journey and fostering a lifelong love of learning and growing.

Gather your Resources

The world of homeschooling resources is vast and seemingly endless. Take some time to research educational materials you may be interested in including by utilizing search engines, blogger reviews, and asking for suggestions in your local homeschooling groups! Homeschool curriculum companies will often attend homeschool conferences as vendors, too, offering parents the opportunity to peruse materials in-person before purchasing.

I so often hear parents say they choose not to homeschool their children because they don’t see themselves as capable of teaching their children. Um…we all have strengths and weaknesses. None of us know everything and that’s totally ok…and expected! If you don’t feel comfortable teaching various subjects or lessons to your children, you can always outsource!

Outschool, for example, hosts many virtual lessons on their platform. They offer lessons for every age, in every subject, and every price range. If you’re a first time Outschool user, you can use my link to get a free $20 credit towards the first class!

Embrace the Journey!

As you start homeschooling, remember to take it all in stride. Not only is this a new adventure for your kids, but it’s also new for you! Homeschooling is a lifestyle and isn’t solely academics. Take the time to learn alongside your children. Enjoy your time getting to know them even better and make lifelong memories together as a family.

I hope this will help you in your “how to start homeschooling” research! If you have any questions I might be able to help you out with, I’m more than happy to help! Just email me and I’ll help however I can!

- Elizabeth (and the kids. and the husband. even the dog.)

Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.

Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She can also be found in her Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout.

When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!

Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!

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