Getting Started with Homeschooling
Homeschooling is not Rocket Science, but as the world discovered this past spring, it is also not sitting around all day eating bonbons. The big question this spring has been, HOW DO I GET STARTED? Well, here is a quick guide to getting started.
First Things First
Check your State Laws and make sure you have everything in order. Need to sign a letter of intent or register your kids? Get it done.
You can find Homeschool Laws by State at HSLDA.
Create Your Action Plan for Schooling
This consists of your Vision, Mission, and Goals. The more detailed you are now the less confusion will ensue later. Like every big project, the more time you devote to planning, the more effective the implementation will be, even when it’s not going as planned.
Spending time on “set-up” can save time (money) and irritation down the road.
Getting Started: Creating a Vision, Mission, and Goals
- Determine your WHY. What’s driving you to Homeschool? Write it all down. Write down your frustrations, hopes, dreams, and expectations. Then distill it all into one simple sentence. Post it somewhere you’ll see it, so you don’t forget. Habbakuk 2:2 This is your Vision- your BIG picture; the long view vision for educating your kids.
- Determine your Mission for the Year. What will you get done? Write this down by child in the following areas: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual.
- Determine Your Goals. These should be SMART– Specific, Measureless, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Smart goals are the small, incremental steps necessary to complete the mission.
Create Your Action Plan for Managing Your Home
Successful Homeschooling consists of:
- Time Management
- Household Management
Set a simple schedule to guide you. Here are some ideas for things to include in your program and ways to organize your week.
- Weekly Family Meetings – gather together weekly as a family to coordinate schedules, online classes, meals, and extra-curricular. Divvy up driving, pick-ups, and deliveries.
- Weekly Individual Student Meeting -Set aside weekly meetings with each homeschool student. Go over schedule, responsibilities, due dates, etc.
- Collective Daily Gathering –You can organize this time as a simple Morning Basket, a family devotional, or memory work. We used our Morning Gathering time as a combination of the above and included Memory Work, Bible Study, and Poetry. We schedule an hour a day and love meeting and learning together!
- Work on skills in the morning/concepts in the afternoon. This is a great way to organize your day. Take advantage of fresh minds and attitudes for the more complicated skill-based subjects like Latin or Math in the morning and then more concept-based learning like Literature, Bible, and History in the afternoon.
Create a simple plan for meals and laundry.
Housework is a job, homeschooling is a job, and if you are working vocationally, you also have that job. Make a simple, do-able plan for getting laundry, food, and kitchen responsibilities taken care of. It will keep everyone sane, sanitary, and satisfied.
Life is seasonal and if you are just starting, plan simply. Start simple and plan to get it done. You can grow into complexity once you’ve got a system and level of comfort with the new normal of adding homeschooling to your day.
Batching is a simple and effective solution to tasks.
Develop routines for laundry. When we had seven people at home, we would switch laundry from washer to dryer daily and then fold and put it away all on one day. Put away laundry when it’s folded. Just do it.
Bulk shop once a month and then mini-bulk shop weekly.
The fewer times you go to the store, the more money you’ll save. Shop with a list and batch cook, or at least batch prep. I usually sauté soup veggies en masse and then have soup ingredients ready to add to make a delicious pot of homemade goodness that feeds many and can be easily stretched. Have “fast food” meals, like soup, fajitas, and tacos, prepped and ready to heat and serve on your busy days. Eat the same basic meals. Bagels and eggs for breakfast, left-overs/ salads for lunch, meat, veggies, potato, or rice for dinner.
Before you even look at a curriculum, determine your mission for each student, what goals you want to accomplish, and what subjects those goals fall into. From there, choose the curriculum.
There are thousands of curriculum choices, and everyone has their favorites. The best curriculum is the one that gets done, so don’t feel like you need to chase every shiny object. I choose a curriculum based on solid educational pedagogy, like Cross Seven, that is easy to use but allows for further exploration.
Outsource for the Win
Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Outsource any classes you don’t feel equipped to teach, such as Foreign Languages, plus those you don’t have the time and energy to handle or those in your student’s area of interest for exploration to maximize opportunities. Homeschooling can look like whatever you want it to look like!
Keep it simple (always!) and start with the core four:
For younger students, focus specifically on number fluency and literacy. Choose simple but effective programs that are non-consumable, like Alpha-Phonics with Explode the Code and Poetry, which is a great way to teach your kids to play with beautiful language and imagery. We also love Right Start Math, which includes Math games. Perfect for adding to your Morning Basket or to use with multiple ages.
For older kids, you should begin to focus on growing in reading fluency and understanding. Choose curricula or online classes that teach simple literature analysis and various forms of writing. If you are considering outsourcing some of these, look at True North Homeschool Academy’s courses on Essay Writing, Research Papers, and Exploring Journalism.
Choosing a Science Curriculum
For Science, choose a curriculum or class focusing on discovery and wonder in the early years. Older students can move into more formal studies, starting with a basic and thorough understanding of the Scientific Method and then delving into foundational sciences like Earth and Space, Biology, and Chemistry.
How to Choose a History Curriculum
History is the importance of what happened before and our place in it. Those coming from a Judeo-Christian point of view include the important concept that all people, places, and time lead to the Cross and our part to play in a lost world awaiting heavenly redemption. Students should have a broad sweeping overview of history, which is why we love studying timelines, along with specific areas, including state, U.S., and World History, Geography, and Economics.
Need Help Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum and Getting Started?
If you have questions or need help choosing age/stage-appropriate resources, we’d love to help! Join us over at True North Homeschool Tribe Facebook group or ask about our academic advising.
Focusing on open-and-go, non-consumable programs, especially content-based curricula, will save you time and money. A Classical Spine, like Cross Seven in the early years, will give your kids a solid foundation for whatever future studies they pursue.
It is wise to spend time and money helping our kids explore their interests. Literature-rich resources and in-real-life experiences like field trips, campaigns, clubs, and camps can be inexpensive ways to teach at home. Add these enriching experiences to your homeschool program as your time and resources allow.
Some curriculum is better than others but the main thing that you want to keep in mind is that if you love it, you’ll use it. If you don’t like or understand the layout or content, you likely won’t! – Lisa Nehring, True North Homeschool Academy Director
Keep It Simple
Learning can take place almost anywhere, at any time. Get started, and remember to keep it simple.
It is so easy to add in resources as you discover areas of interest, skills that need to be honed, and the world that needs exploring. Above all, have fun. Education is the transmission of culture, allowing you this beautiful space and time to impart to your children the things most important to you; the real things. Enjoy the journey, it is time well spent.
Not sure what your focus should be?
Our team of Academic Advisors has years of experience in homeschooling, choosing curriculum, and the ages and stages of child development. We have advisors with experience planning for students with Special Needs and supporting those families. Our advisors are ready to encourage you and help you create an amazing, doable plan.
Need a like-minded tribe to journey with? Our True North TRIBE is a great place to start, and our Getting Started Homeschool Printable Planning packet was created to help you create a plan and write out your goals and vision while keeping your home and students on track. Download it free.