Congratulations on your decision to homeschool! At Anything Academic, we celebrate all learning paths and we’re here to do everything we can to help you navigate the one that’s best for you and your child. The decision to homeschool is not an easy one but once you make it we really want to help you make sure you have ALL of the resources you need to be successful. So, let’s start at the very beginning:
Now that you have decided to homeschool, your first question should be, “What do I do to start homeschooling?”
First, it’s important to dispel a common misconception. There is no right way to homeschool. Your options are almost limitless. With so many options, it may be intimidating for a new homeschooler even to begin.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and territories, but the requirements will vary greatly. Check out your State Law Requirements to view the steps you need to take to ensure you are following all regulations.
Consider Your Options
Not everyone wants to homeschool the traditional way. For some families, online school might be a better option. Do you want to teach on your own, or do you want a series of tutors, online hosted classes or classes at co-ops?
Do your research! With many options, the goal is to find the one that fits you and your family best. Dig into the library on Anything Academic. How comfortable are you teaching? What kind of lifestyle do you have?
Maybe you should hire a tutor part-time for a little help? You decide. This year with so much happening in the world many parents are looking for more than a “little” help. If you need a full-time teacher, Anything Academic will help you!
Decide to do it!
The decision to homeschool can be the hardest part about the entire process. There is often a great deal of emotional turmoil that goes into the transition. Homeschooling is a departure from your comfort zone. Everyone knows that change can be a bit intimidating. In hindsight, you will look back at yourself a year later and laugh, but right now, you need ways to cope with it.
Perhaps you have had some negative feedback or heard various homeschooling misconceptions. Remember you are not alone! Currently almost 10 percent of the nation homeschools. So when you are ready, decide and commit!
The great thing about homeschooling is that you can decide what you will teach, how you will teach it, and how strict your routine and schedule should be. There are many options for Homeschooling styles.
- School-at-Home Homeschooling: This option imitates a public or private school lifestyle. Essentially, you have a classroom at home where you teach through lectures and textbooks. Tests and quizzes are used to measure progress. Some parents prefer this method at first because it helps them structure their children’s lives.
- Classical Homeschooling: Classical Homeschooling is a teaching style that uses the trivium model for teaching and learning. The Classical method begins with the grammar stage, then moves to the logic stage, and finally, the rhetoric stage. Classical Homeschooling is a research-based method that operates on the theory that brain development happens in phases based on the child’s brain and current age and development. The idea is that learning and brain development are uniform.
- Unschooling: Unschooling is a learning method that depends on the interests and curiosity of the individual child. Unschooling families have a firm belief that children learn best when they follow their unique interests. Also known as Delight-driven or Student-led, the students interests lead their education.
- Charlotte Mason Method: The Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling involves viewing education as a whole child development process. The method includes three main concepts. The child will learn through their atmosphere. This means that the learning and home environment will play a large role in their development. The environment is crucial and must be designed to optimize learning. The Charlotte Mason Method focuses heavily on character development as well. According to this method, developing good habits is equally important to becoming a well-rounded adult. Finally, the Charlotte Mason Method focuses on the life of the child. Children will focus on life and living education rather than rote memorization of facts.
- Montessori Method: The Montessori method is a curriculum method that grows and adapts with the child. Everything from the materials, content, and learning environment is designed to meet your child’s age, development, and interests.
- Unit or Theme studies: Unit or theme studies are lessons and activities tied to a specific theme. All subjects are linked to the learning theme. The themes can be designed around your child’s interest, increasing engagement for the whole family.
- Family Style Homeschooling Method: Family-style homeschooling is a teaching or learning method where everyone is studying the same material together, regardless of age or academic development.
- Eclectic Homeschooling: Eclectic Homeschooling involves mixing and matching homeschooling curriculum based on your child’s learning style and interests.
Preparing Your Child
One of the most critical steps of starting your homeschooling journey is to prepare your child. Talk to your child and be open and honest with them about the circumstances that led to the decision to start schooling at home. Make sure they know what they can expect, explain about the many changes they will face, and answer any questions they may have. Preparing your child for homeschooling may involve many discussions and answering many of their questions to ease their fears.
It takes time to prepare your child, but it is an essential step in being successful. If your child is resistant, teaching them may be a struggle. Taking the time to prepare your child will help make the transition easier for the whole family.
Consider deschooling for a while. Not sure what that is? Deschooling is the concept that you may need time without structured formal education to transition over to homeschooling. Note this does not say “No learning”. This is a way of learning without the stress and burdens of brick and mortar schools. Homeschooling requires a “rethinking” from both the child and the parent. Deschooling addresses this.
Preparing Your Learning Environment
Preparing your learning environment will depend on many things. How big is your home, and how much of it can you dedicate solely to school? Can you convert the garage or an extra bedroom into a schoolroom? Do you have more than one child, and will they be learning different subjects at different times? Will you be doing family-style learning?
You do not have to invest thousands into converting a room into a schoolhouse, though. You can create a convertible learning environment at the kitchen table. Whatever you decide, you must make sure that your learning environment is ready before you begin.
Connect with other Homeschooling Families
Homeschooling can feel isolating at times. It is important to connect with other homeschooling families. Connect with homeschooling groups online. You can even join a homeschooling co-op. You can find support, get advice, or have a social outlet for your child.
Decide on Your Curriculum
Choose a curriculum and get your materials before you begin. You can choose from complete homeschooling curriculum kits, buy used kits, or put together your own mix of learning resources. No matter what option you choose, make sure that you have your materials ready for your first homeschooling day. Anything Academic will match your educational needs specifically with over a thousand curriculum options and oodles more learning resources.
Stressed and uncertain where to start? The number of options can be overwhelming. Our tailored matching will help but here is the big secret; no matter what you choose you will probably change it at least once. Why? Because you don’t know now what you will know in a year about your child. You will learn a tremendous amount about their learning style as you move forward. Instead of hesitating and not being able to pick, consider picking an all-in-one curriculum to get started. We call these Easy Start! for a reason. They come in various prices: some are very affordable, even free! Pick one and let your child start learning while you keep researching more options. You do not need to know every answer to just get started!
Set Up a Daily Routine (and stick to it!)
Determine a schedule that works for your child and you. Prepare your child by starting your routine before you officially begin homeschooling. You may adjust your schedule or routine many times, but your child needs to have a routine if you want to be successful. Remember you are not just the parent anymore, you are now the teacher and principal. Sticking to your own rules will help you in the long run.
That being said, you are also the principal. Be ready to overrule the teacher! The beauty of homeschool lies in its flexibility. Up late watching a documentary? Allowances may need to be made.
Set boundaries and stick to it! No games or Netflix during school time. Don’t get your work done? You will be doing it later. That means no FaceTime or Roblox till it is done. Reward reading books with extra game time or whatever works for your child. Find out what really motivates your child.
Most states require some sort of portfolio or record. Start off with a good planner or system to track what you need. Know what you need to track. Reference the state laws above! Don’t go crazy, but keep a good organized record. Starting off organized will help in the long run. Read up on our portfolio advice to learn more!
Invest in Memberships
Memberships to museums, libraries, zoos, nature preserves, gyms, and aquariums are a great way to enhance your child’s learning experiences. Many of these memberships will come with free classes that you can add to your curriculum. Many of these places also offer discounts for homeschooling families. Easily sort through memberships with our field trip filter. You’ll be able to see the educational resources, memberships and more that these places have to offer and best of all, you can easily find the ones closest to you or closest to where you’re traveling to!
Learn to Say Yes More
The rules have changed. Say yes, and if you find yourself about to say no, pause and think about why you feel that way. Can I watch a documentary about this instead of reading the book? Can I build a fort (engineering skills)? Can I cook (chemistry, math, and organization)? Make everything a learning experience that is fun. Homeschool is not just school done at home. It’s letting your child, with some guidance, learn Anything Academic! Add stuff you would never have thought about. Sign language? Yep. Engineering and coding? Yep. Why not? Learn to say yes more. Here’s the best part- you can always find inspiration and guidance here on Anything Academic. We also encourage you look through the Facebook groups and co-ops near you (an easy search right on Anything Academic) to find a support group to help you through the entire process.
Homeschooling is a journey, not a destination. Do not be afraid to try something for fear of failure. Finding the right program and routine will take time, and it will ultimately depend on your child and your entire family. Keep your family’s needs at the center of every decision, and enjoy the voyage!