Please share with your friends!

Hey, friends!  I just got off a call with yet another unexpectedly homeschooling mama, and we were talking about how a lot of people are new to homeschooling and they may not even know how to explain what they need help with, because they don’t know where to even begin!  

Well, I am here to help!  Here is a Beginner’s Guide to homeschooling that will help you get started and on your way.  As always, if you have any questions, let me know!  They more you ask, the more helpful I can be!

What is homeschooling? 

Well, after 8 years educating my children, I have realized that is truly a loaded question. So many people define it in so many different ways.

Let’s sum it up by defining what the objective is, rather than the method.

Homeschooling is creating an environment conducive to learning where you, the parent, help direct and guide them, so that they can be ready for whatever comes their way in adulthood, and they can be prepared to enter the workforce or raise a family with the skills needed to thrive in any environment they choose.

The simple version is… You parent them.

No, really. You just create a loving environment and do your best.

How to get started with homeschooling: 

(If you want the quick start guide, click the link click here. That will take you to a guide I created just for new homeschoolers, to get them moving forward while they figure everything out, as well as giving you access to my Resource Library where you can find all kinds of other helpful printables and information.)

  • The first thing you want to do when you start homeschooling is to watch your children. Get to know their personalities and learning styles. Talk to them and find out their passions and their interests. They are a complete and whole individual. You don’t need to force them to be interested in the world around them. They already are. And as I am sure you know, when you are passionate about something, it’s so easy to get excited about learning.
  • Secondly, you need to assess your environment. What ages are your children? How much time can you give each day to homeschooling, without it causing a disruption in your family? I know, for me, when I had three older kids, as well as a baby and a toddler, I had to change how we were schooling, to address the needs of the little ones better.
  • Thirdly, what is your family’s value system? If you aren’t living according to your values, what needs to change in order for you to have the structure needed to accomplish your family goals and mission?
  • Next, decide on how you are going to facilitate learning. Are you doing it by yourself? Is your spouse, a friend or a family member going to help? Maybe there is a co-op in your area that would be a good fit.
  • Lastly, decide on what materials you want to use, to allow your kids to learn what they need to know. You may be able to address their needs with a boxed curriculum, or you may want to individualize things. Many parents do a hybrid of both.

Tips for Success in Homeschooling 

  • Be flexible! I think one of the biggest motivation killers in homeschooling is setting a rigid schedule and feeling obligated to follow it, even when it’s not working for you. Think of it this way… businesses have regular meetings to assess what is working and what needs to change. Things are not set in stone. Give things a week, then decide where to go from there.
  • Stop when you can see your child isn’t engaging and refocus or take a break. You know as moms we need breaks, well, kids do too! You can be free to use your judgement about the needs of your child. They don’t have to learn everything in a day, a month, or even a year(ask me how I know!) Your family and educational needs are unique. Celebrate your own path and cheer others on in their journey. No need to keep up with the Jones’ here!
  • Each child is different. One kid may read at 4, one may read at 10. Both are totally within the normal scope of development. Let that sink in for a moment!!! Get excited, because that means your fears over them being “where they should be” just got obliterated! You know your child best. Recognize where they are in their journey and celebrate it!
  • It’s not just about test scores. Your child doesn’t need to be the next Einstein to have a happy life. They need a basic education and the character and confidence to go out and live a wonderful life. We don’t want our kids to conquer the world, but lose their souls. So, if you have to choose between Latin and making sure your kids know how to cook a basic meal, so they can feed themselves healthfully, I would choose cooking!
  • Take time to get to know your child’s strengths, and nurture them. I can’t tell you how many engineers got their start taking apart electronic devices and putting them back together, or how many authors spent many afternoons daydreaming in a tree, or how many lawyers spent their entire childhoods negotiating! You may be surprised what pleasant things you discover about your children.

Common Questions/FAQ About Homeschooling

  • Question 1 Does my school need to be accredited?
    • Nope!  A lot of schools are not.  I can also tell you from first hand experience that if your child starts college in high school, and they get their two year degree before heading into a 4 year university, they need no entrance exam,( unless a college requires a course-specific placement) and they don’t even need to take their SATs!

      Not all colleges are the same, so make sure to do the research yourself.  I do know, homeschoolers are accepted into Ivy League schools and I have read that the colleges encourage homeschoolers to apply, because they tend to perform better in school than their public school peers.
  • Question 2 What if I don’t know the answers to my kids questions, or I am bad at a subject?
    • Short answer… Google it! Long answer… There is a tutor for that, or they can figure it out themselves or do it along with you. It’s that simple.
  • Question 3 How do I know what the regulations are in my state for homeschooling?
    • The best place I have found to get that information is through HSLDA. You can get to them here. This is for the USA, but they do have an organization for Canada as well.
  • Question 4 How many hours a day do you spend homeschooling?
    • That depends entirely upon the age of the child and the needs of the child. Kindergarten could be as little as 15 minutes of guided instruction per day, up to 4 hours or more for high school. The good news, is by then, they will be very independent and will rely more on you for guidance and accountability, than for direct instruction.

      There are SO many ways to homeschool, it really depends on your goals and time availability. One thing I think people tend to omit when explaining the time it takes to instruct, is the fact that you can teach a child “school” stuff for 15 minutes per day, but the learning takes place all day.
  • Question 5 What if I have a strong willed child? Won’t we just butt heads?
    • Yep.  You will.  I am not gonna lie.  And then you can make a choice.  You can continue to do that, or you can learn more about your child and their communication styles.  You can choose to connect with them in a gentle, patient and understanding way so you can build trust, or you can set yourself up for a lifetime of a strained relationship with your child.  (Don’t worry, if you have this kind of relationship with your child it can be mended.)

      Being a homeschooling mom is no different than being a mom.  Your tasks may be different, but the role you play is the same.  It’s your job to nurture, discipline, instruct and encourage.  It’s the same job as a homeschooler.    
  • Question 6 And last, but certainly not least. What about socialization?
    • Well, here is my take.  In the Bible we are told, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20 NKJV)

      Children are not equipped to defend their faith and their principles at a young age.  They need instruction and guidance.  They need friends that will encourage them to move into a deeper relationship with God and to love His laws, wisdom and knowledge.  Do you really think another child is going to be that person? 

      I was a child who wanted so much to do what was right and good.  You know who I was around when I wasn’t doing the right thing?  Kids my age who led me astray and encouraged my foolishness. 

      Even as adults, this same principle applies. 

      So, what about socialization?  I take it very seriously and have open discussions with my children about their relationships and how they are being affected by them, or what roles they are playing in the relationships and how it is affecting their friends. 

      I am able to intervene and guide them in righteous ways, because I am involved with who they socialize with.  When I haven’t, some pretty awful things have happened.
      If we love our children, socialization will be an important part of our homeschool life.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Homeschooling

You don’t have to do it alone! There are SO many resources out there, mom groups, co-ops, music and art teachers, retired welders, who would love to pass their skills on to the next generation; grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles.

Also, it’s OK to not do it alone. Sorry to have to break it to you, but you are not superwoman, nor should you have to be.

“Not alone” includes giving yourself permission to get rid of cable tv, so you can bring in a maid, someone to prep meals for the week, or do the laundry, or a tutor to help with a kid who needs extra attention.

No burden of mom-guilt ever made anyone any happier. Could I do everything myself? Maybe yes, maybe, no, but I would rather have the time and energy to ur my love into my children and not become stressed and burned out. That gallon of coffee a day mom isn’t the mom you want teaching your kids.

Throw the guilt away and realize your strengths, capitalize on them, and then find help!

p.s. If you can’t find the help you need, your children will still be fine. Just think of all the amazing people in the world who overcame adversity to go on and accomplish great things. If your children have your love, discipline and guidance, they are well on their way to doing amazing things.

p.p.s. If your children teach themselves something, they are much more likely to retain it and be confident in their skills… but that is another post entirely!