How to get Started Homeschooling When You Have No Idea Where to Even Begin

That headline couldn’t be truer, right?  .  Wrong!  The pandemic forced us to take the leap knowing nothing and along the way have been able to streamline a process so that this homeschooling dream can become a reality!  I have developed these 5 easy steps for you to take the leap and experience an entirely different type of learning for your child!

 In this blog post, I’m sharing the 5 easy steps I learned that allowed me to find the best homeschooling approach and can be applied to any type of learner you have as a child!

·       Identify your WHY! Why is homeschooling the right fit for your child and your family lifestyle?

·       Choosing the best curriculum for your child. Sites such as Age of Learning offer multiple resources.

·       How to develop a schedule that makes sense to your child and family needs.

·       How to develop an established curriculum to be completed.

·       How to supplement learning outside of the established curriculum.

·       How to know homeschooling will be sustainable for you and finding your supportive homeschooling community!

So if you have been nervous about trying to homeschool your child or you do not feel you know where to start, all of that is about to change! And before too long, your child will be reading Alpine Academy Utah reviews or other educational institutions, with a solid background thanks to you.

Our Story

As many parents during the pandemic, we were put into a situation with schooling where we were able to assess truly what our child needed (we didn’t have a choice).  We found that we really did not have much to lose because we knew our son was not going to be able to sit in front of a computer for hours on end to participate in the school district hybrid model.  We knew our son, and we knew it was not going to end well.  So, we pulled him out and took matters into our own hands… And friends, I will tell you, it was the best decision that we ever made!  Fast forward a year, he is now a grade ahead in language arts, reading and science and a half a grade ahead in math.  We can move at our own speed, on our own time, and when he is most engaged.  We give breaks to get the wiggles out and time to get his headspace right.  Let’s face it, I am an adult and when I am asked to sit in a meeting exactly at a certain time, I am not always 100% there and engaged because I haven’t gotten my “wiggles” out either and my headspace is probably not there either.

It has been a breath of fresh air knowing that making this leap was worth the risk.  My husband and I see a huge change in our son every day and I want this for you too!

The Steps

Step #1: Identify your WHY! Why is homeschooling the right fit for your child and your family lifestyle?

 This step is the MOST important! Understanding the reasons why we make the decisions that we do and understanding why we want to make the decision in the first place is the FOUNDATION to longevity and commitment.  This is true for ANY decision.  Go ahead and read that again! (I know that is deep for the first step, but you have to be able to verbalize the driver behind your decision).  This answer will be different for everyone.  Some may include, my child can’t sit still and focus in class, my child doesn’t like school anymore, my child is getting bullied, or for us, my child has special needs and he doesn’t fit into the general education model being provided to him (even with assistance in the classroom).  Our goals were to find a way to educate our son in a way that fostered positivity and allowed him to be himself while learning.  We were trying to fit him into a box that he didn’t fit in. 

What is your WHY?

Use the Find Your Homeschooling Why worksheet to help you and your family identify your WHY?  Below is the example of my families WHY!

Step #2: Choosing a Homeschooling Curriculum

This step is quite fun!  Do not stress about this either.  The best part about this step is that you find something to start with and if you and/or your child do not like it, you can find something else.  You do not need to develop this on your own, there are so many great programs already out there, proven to be effective! This is the beauty of being in control of the learning environment and content.  There are so many different homeschool curriculums and all have such diverse and great content presented in different ways and you can supplement them with things like ABCmouse.  I will provide some that we have had experiences with and have even at some points did a mixture of them because some concepts were presented clearer in one curriculum over another. 

Time4LearningAn interactive curriculum that has short module lessons and provides the ability to electronically plan and run reports. Great for kids with ADHD and Autism (from personal experience!)

Easy Peasy—This is free! An online curriculum to start with if you are wanting to do some investigating without investing any money just yet!

Hooked on Phonics— This one is bringing it back as well. This is a tried and true program that is proven successful! I used it as a kid and this company lets you try it for 1 month for $1. The kids love how interactive it is and it engages my 3 year old daughter as well as my 6 year old son with Autism. It is all about how engaged you can get them in the program to make it more fun. This program gets 5 stars from me!

Homer Learn to Read— This is another great resource for early reading. This program has helped my 3 year old identify letter sounds and words. She. Is. 3! It is really interactive as well and has a lot of direct feedback in real time (example, complete action, reward and response or a quick modification to help get to the right answer!) She loves it!

EPIC books— We use this DAILY and can’t speak more highly of this. We read every day and there is a library of over 40,000 different titles to choose from and adding frequently. Not to mention, you can track your child’s progress of books each have read. Buying physical books gets pricey quick. Subscribing to an online book library saves you tons of money in the long haul. I promise!

MEL Science— This one is fun! It is science for kids ages 5+ and the boxes come every month. There is a new science project each month and the boxes are designed for at home use exclusively. So not a whole lot of prep on the parents end whatsoever. It makes life so much easier.

Step #3: Developing a schedule that fits your child and family’s needs.

 Again… do NOT stress here.  This is NOT a one size fits all model.  Every family and child are unique and that means their schedules will be different as well.  For example, my husband and I work full time jobs and we do school work with him on the weekends and evenings and also have a babysitter for the week to help.  We leave her daily work and assignments to work on (we establish coursework on Sundays for the upcoming week).  Each day is different with extracurriculars throughout the day and we ask her to do assignments throughout the day and whatever she can’t get to, we will either do that evening or push to the weekend. We do ask her to have a plan of attack established in the beginning of the day to talk with our son so he knows what to expect.  Our son is 6 years old and he needs time in between assignments to process the work and let’s not forget, to be a kid!  So a typical day looks like this for our son…

8 a.m.- breakfast

8:30 a.m.- school work

8:50 a.m.- fun activity to move body

9:00 a.m.- school work

9:20 a.m.- tablet/screen time

9:30 a.m.- snack

10:00 a.m.- library/park

11:00 a.m.- school work

11:20 a.m.-tablet/screen time

12:00 p.m.- lunch

12:30 p.m.- go outside and play

1:15 p.m.- calm down/legos/color/draw

2:00p.m.- school work

2:20 p.m.- fun activity to move body

2:30 p.m.- snack

3:00 p.m.- school work

3:20 p.m.- go outside and play

4:00 p.m.- tablet/screen time

4:30 p.m.- get ready for dinner or evening extracurricular activities

 What we found was that many of the programs we researched already have an established curriculum set with how frequent and how much time spent per week should be spent on each subject.  The best part is, you can decide how it gets done based on your family schedule.  We are using Time4Learning currently and there is a way to electronically set up a curriculum schedule per week to lesson plan.  It is a great tool!  I also highly recommend this magnetic planner board for your refrigerator! It is very comprehensive and you can get your kiddos involved in it as well. If you are more of a paper and pencil type of person, I have used these planners that are great and help us meal plan and set goals for the week as well! The smaller planners are more for mom and dad while the refrigerator magnetic one is for the entire family!

Also, ready for this one… we do school year-round, in the evenings, and on the weekends too!  My husband and I want to be part of our son’s education, so we get to be actively involved on our time off and not feel stressed to do it for long durations.  It is about the quality time spent not quantity!

Step #4: Supplement learning outside of the established curriculum.

This is another fun one you get to research and look into frequently because your child’s needs are always changing. Not to mention keeping things fresh and exciting helps with engagement.  We use so many different supplemental resources and are always looking at creative new additions to our homeschooling library.  I highly recommend the below resources.

Learning nest— This site is great because it has homeschool curriculum for all ages as well as supplemental games/toys you would not find on any website. There are individual lessons too if you want to dive into a concept more with additional learning supplies for that lesson. It is fun, creative and you can mix things up when you feel like you need to try something new with a lesson! I especially love science activities.

Learning without tears— I highly recommend this handwriting program (handwriting without tears)! It is for all age levels and has really fine tuned our son’s writing and techniques. It even has a cursive program. He was really struggling and this program makes handwriting fun. It also has pneumatics to remind when practicing for the child.— This is a great, free resource to start with and if you really like it there is a membership to join. It is very interactive and my kids love the ability to interact while learning.

Discount school supply— This site is great when you are looking for a discount. They have tons of unique supplemental items, they have everything you can think of. From curriculums and arts and crafts supplies to STEM activities and school supplies. We use them when we want to get some hands-on activities to supplement a lesson. Online work and worksheets are great but incredibly repetitious. You have to keep things engaging for learning to be fun!

 Step #5: Make homeschooling sustainable for you and your child.

Every single day I see my son progressing forward.  His curiosity is the highest we have ever seen.  He asks a question about something of interest, we find the answer and see if we can find a lesson on it.  We are in charge of his learning.  We use the curriculum and state guidelines to ensure we are giving him the courses needed to learn from and then WE get to be as creative as we want.  If that isn’t empowering, I don’t know what is.  You are in charge of your child’s education, YOU!  He wants to learn Spanish, awesome! The difference between transparent and opaque because they mentioned it in one of the curriculum lessons, great! Let’s look into this! (This actually just happened, and I didn’t know the answer, lol!)  Learning is an adventure and fun. Homeschooling has helped build our relationship with our son as well because we are learning alongside him!

Another great resource that I have to mention are the online homeschool communities and resources out there.  I have joined so many Facebook online homeschool support groups and have learned so much from them.  You can also niche down further like we did and have joined special needs homeschool communities or I have seen those who RV full time, travel the world, work full time and homeschool, etc. have communities as well. Again, you are NOT alone!

Below are some resources we have used to help us along the way as well…

HSLDA— I can’t not tell you enough how much help this website was to us in the homeschooling journey. There is a membership if you are interested, they are available to answer questions about everything you can imagine. They have information about homeschooling communities, legal references, special needs homeschooling, grants, recordkeeping, and the list goes on!

Facebook groups: Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace, Homeschooling Special Needs and Unique Learners, Free Homeschooling Resources, RV Homeschool (they have great, inventive ideas for homeschool storage as well!), Homeschool Curriculum Sell/Exchange, Ohio Homeschooling for Beginners, Ohio Homeschooling Parents and list can go on. There are tons of communities out there. Just start searching!

 Just know, you are not alone in this adventure, and we are all learning every day!  It doesn’t matter your story, it matters that you have taken the plunge like the rest of us, headfirst, into being 200% actively involved in your child’s education. You get to be at the forefront with them every step of the way!  Be proud and just give it a try, you will not regret it. 

 Also, PSA… if you do try it with your child and find it isn’t for you and your family at this time, that is fine too!  We know of families that decided to go a different route because it did not work with their current lifestyle.  That. Is. Fine!  You didn’t fail!  You took a chance and what that shows your kids is that taking a risk helps you learn, and that my friend, is a lesson that is incredibly hard to teach.  A life skill that we all need to know and be comfortable in.  Risks=rewards, whether you succeed or fail, we learn from these experiences.  Not to mention you will not live with the ‘what if’ question in your head.  I hate that little voice…

You lose out on all experiences if you do not even take the chance!

I wish I could show you how much of a positive impact this has had on our son and our family.  Yes, it was a change.  Yes, it was nerve racking in the beginning because it was something new!  That just meant we were doing something outside of our comfort zone. We pushed through it and it was far one of the best decisions we have ever made!  Join us in this journey!

Enjoy every minute being a mom and continue to inspire your kids!