Suddenly homeschooling for the first time?
You’re not alone.
Many, many parents are teaching their children at home for the first time ever this year.
As a veteran homeschooler, I want to say two things:
First of all – welcome! We’re not weird as we seem and we love to have new families join us. So hi!
Second – no matter how unprepared you feel, you’ve totally got this.
And, to help make the idea of learning at home easier, I’m sharing this super easy, nitty-gritty, get it done guide to first time homeschooling.
If you’re brand new to the idea of teaching your own children, this is a simple, streamlined way to get started.
And, honestly, even though I’ve been homeschooling for ten years, this is basically the way I approach it as well.
So I’m here to tell you: it works.
Want to make the first day of your school year special? Try some of these fun first day of homeschool ideas!
The Get It Done Guide to First Time Homeschooling
Images c/o: victoshafoto / depositphotos
To start, I need to make a confession: I’ve been working from home and homeschooling for years.
But, I’ve also sent my children to public school (twice) and worked out of the home as well.
So I understand how having your children always at home can be…a bit much. If you feel that way, you will face no judgment at all from me. I get it.
As I’ve been talking with other moms online and in person, the number one feeling they express is a sense of overwhelm.
Trying to work from home, manage their households, and teach their children seems like an impossible task.
So let’s start by taking a deep, deep breath together. Take two if you need to.
We’re going to get through this in four steps (five, if you want).
That’s it. That’s all.
You can do this.
Step 1: Look at your state requirements.
Before you do anything, and I mean anything, find out what your state (or province) requires homeschoolers to do.
If you search “(state) homeschool requirements”, look for an internet search result from the actual department of education for your state. Then read the list of regulations.
Some states are very hands-off and require almost no paperwork or specific standards, but others are very detailed and require regular evaluations and check-ins by parents.
Use those regulations as your homeschooling framework.
Step 2: Choose a math program.
After you read your state’s requirements, start selecting how you will teach each subject, especially the core subjects such as math and English Language Arts (ELA).
Fair warning: There are a ton of math programs out there. A TON.
Don’t get caught up trying to read through each one and compare them. Start with Khan Academy (it’s free!) and let your child start working through that from the very beginning.
You’ll get a good sense of where he or she needs to improve as they go along.
You’ll also see what they like and don’t like about that program, which will give you a good idea of how to choose something different, if you choose.
If you just want to keep moving for now, check your child’s appropriate grade level on Khan Academy and then buy a grade-level math workbook. Done.
Step 3: Choose an ELA program.
Once you get math going, find a way to teach ELA.
Khan Academy has some courses for this too, but they’re still working on them.
I generally use a grade-level workbook for ELA and then add a lot of books to read and discuss together through the year. (Look for my specific homeschool choices for this year coming soon!)
Still with me?
Step 4: Choose a way to learn science and social studies.
Okay. The biggies are done. Now it’s time to move on to the other subjects.
Science is actually pretty simple these days. Find a great and reputable kids’ science YouTube channel and off you go. Pick up a book with easy experiments to try if you like.
You can do the same with social studies. With younger kids, find an excellent world travel channel and learn about a new country each week.
For older kids, focus on historical events and their impact on society. (Further down, there are a few recommendations you can try for this.)
Step 5: Pick an elective or two (if you want.)
That’s basically a school day.
If you do math and ELA four days a week, plus science and social studies two days each, you’ve covered all the basics.
Want to add an elective? Great! There are plenty of those out there for free too, including art, music, American Sign Language (which I teach!), and more.
A simple internet search will point you in the right direction.
And we’re done!
Pat yourself on the back. You’re ready to go. Really.
Is All-In-One Homeschool Curriculum Good for First Time Homeschoolers?
You might be wondering why I didn’t mention any all-in-one boxed curriculum choices in the steps above.
Well, here’s why.
I have used several through the years. (BookShark was our absolute favorite.)
In fact, I was homeschooled myself from sixth grade onward with a boxed curriculum.
Here’s the thing about all-in-one-programs (at least in my experience):
They tend to fit well in some subjects and not at all in others. All of my kids were at different grade levels in each subject. They tended to need a grade-level math but an advanced ELA program or vice versa.
So I always ended up with materials I paid for, but couldn’t use. Boo.
Also – I found the big box a little overwhelming, especially when I was just starting out.
But you might be different. So, after you’ve gotten into a good routine, feel free to take a look at a few (especially BookShark).
Easy Homeschool Options for First Time Homeschoolers
Whew! I’ve said a lot here, but I can’t let you go without sharing a few good resources that will help you get started if you’re first time homeschooling. These are all excellent and, even better, free.
- YouTube: CrashCourse Kids – an excellent science channel for elementary grades
- YouTube: CrashCourse – comprehensive science and history for middle school and teenaged students
- Varsity Tutors: Virtual School Day – free online classes for all grade levels (read carefully; some have fees)
- Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool – a free comprehensive internet-linked curriculum for PreK through high school
- TED-ED – video-based science, social studies, and history lessons for all grade levels
Need more homeschooling inspiration? Try some of these ideas!