Are you considering homeschooling your kids? There are a lot of things to think about before getting started. Here are 17 homeschool tips for beginners to help you start on the right foot.
It’s a little scary right?
Deciding to homeschool can be a big deal. I admit I was definitely nervous when we first decided to actually do it.
I vividly remember what it felt like to know I was fully responsible for my children’s education. It was exciting, but a bit nerve-wracking too.
Of course, I had a ton of questions. How do I get started? How do I start homeschooling the right way?
Is there even a right way? How do I make sure my kids learn what they need to while also enjoying our time together?
If you’ve got some similar questions or just want some advice on how to get started homeschooling, keep reading. These homeschool tips for beginners will help you get off to a great start.
Let’s dive in!
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What do I need to know before homeschooling?
This post is going to be full of homeschool tips for beginners, but let’s take a quick minute to cover the necessities. Here’s what you absolutely need to know before you start homeschooling:
- Your state’s homeschooling laws
- Your goals for homeschooling (Why you want to homeschool in the first place.)
- Where to find homeschool curriculum and resources
- Where to find other homeschooling families to connect with
Knowing your homeschool laws makes sure you’re legally compliant as you homeschool. Being clear about your homeschool goals helps you set up a homeschool plan that fits your family.
Knowing where to find homeschool curriculum, resources, and other homeschooling families will help make sure you have the educational resources and community to help your homeschool thrive.
I’ll go into more detail throughout this post about what you need to know about homeschooling as a beginner, but that list covers the basics. If you have that information before you start, you’ll be able to figure out the rest along the way.
How do you successfully homeschool?
I’m going to be honest, this is a pretty loaded question. And the answer is going to be different for each family.
Some people would define it as your child excelling academically through school, graduating, and going on to college. Some families define it as their child being able to explore and grow without the pressures of having to meet someone else’s standards.
Other families focus on different skills rather than academics. They might prioritize learning life skills, trades, or other talents instead.
The bottom line is that you get to decide what success looks like for your homeschool. And as long as you have a plan and are intentional about your homeschool goals, you can find success however you define it.
17 Homeschool Tips for Beginners
My very first homeschool tip for beginners is to relax. I know homeschooling can feel a little intense or overwhelming, but getting stressed about it won’t actually help you make any better decisions.
Homeschooling may feel like a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world if you make a few mistakes along the way. In fact, I’m almost positive you will.
I’ve purchased curriculums that didn’t work, struggled to teach my kids certain concepts, and felt like we’ve had entire weeks where it was a battle to get my kids to learn anything.
And I promise you in the beginning, I was just as unsure about everything as you’re probably feeling right now.
But despite all that, my kids still continue to learn and grow and progress.
Just relax and take your time as you figure out what homeschooling looks like for your family.
2.) Know your state’s homeschooling laws
Before you start homeschooling you need to be very clear on your state’s homeschooling laws.
Regardless of what homeschooling philosophy or curriculum you want to use, you first need to make sure you’re following the legal requirements for your state.
They will typically cover things like:
- How to withdraw your child from public school if they’re already enrolled
- Any reporting or testing requirements for your state
- If your state has attendance requirements
- Whether or not you, as the teacher, need to meet certain requirements
- The legal age you’re required to start homeschooling your child
You can look up the local homeschool laws for your state here.
3.) Don’t try to recreate public school at home
Next on the list of homeschool tips for beginners is to avoid trying to recreate public school at home. For a lot of parents, their only educational experience is in a traditional school setting.
So that’s the only learning environment they’re familiar with. It can be tempting to try to recreate that same setup in your homeschool.
But homeschooling isn’t public school and doesn’t have to look like it.
Homeschooling gives you the freedom to create a learning environment that truly suits your kids. You can try alternative methods of learning, read books in the living room in your pajamas, and throw the whole plan out the window to follow rabbit trails.
Some kids do learn well in a more structured environment like what you see in public school but know that’s not the only way kids learn.
And it’s definitely not required. Keep an open mind for different learning styles and environments that might work better.
4.) Embrace alternative methods of learning
This homeschool tip for beginners goes hand in hand with the last one. Just because you didn’t learn a certain way, doesn’t mean your kids can’t or shouldn’t.
Embrace alternative methods of learning and don’t be afraid to try something new. Your homeschool will look very different than a public school classroom, and even other homeschool families, and that’s okay!
Some homeschoolers use unit studies, Charlotte Mason methods, Montessori, classical education, and unschooling. There are many homeschool methods out there and you don’t have to choose just one.
You can mix and match different homeschool philosophies to find what works best for your family.
5.) Explore different learning styles
Next on our list of homeschool tips for beginners is to explore different learning styles. Just like you don’t have to be caged into one specific type of learning method, you are free to explore different types of learning styles.
The three main learning styles are:
Auditory learners learn best through listening and being spoken to. Visual learners learn best through reading or seeing something demonstrated. Kinesthetic learners learn best through doing.
Explore the different types of learning styles and see which one suits your family best.
Understand yours and your child’s
While we’re talking about learning styles, I do think it’s important to mention that you want to understand which learning style works best for you and your child.
A lot of times we can get caught up in the type of learning that works best for our child. Or what works well for other kids.
But you also need to take into account what learning method you most enjoy teaching. If your child learns well with one learning method, but it makes you want to pull your hair out, your homeschool days are going to be pretty miserable.
Try to find a good balance of activities and curriculums that your children thrive with and you find enjoyment in teaching.
- 9 Helpful Tips to Choosing a Homeschool Philosophy
- The 20 Biggest Beginner Homeschool Mistakes You Want to Avoid
6.) Choose a homeschool philosophy
Another good tip for new homeschoolers is to choose a homeschool philosophy. A homeschool philosophy is a set of values and ideals that you use to guide your homeschool.
Here are the most common homeschool philosophies:
- Virtual/Distance Learning
- Traditional/Textbook Learning
- Charlotte Mason
- Classical Education
- Unit Studies
Do some research and figure out what homeschool philosophy would suit your family best. And don’t be afraid to pick and choose parts of each homeschool philosophy or create your own.
Remember, homeschooling is flexible and you can tailor it to fit your family’s needs.
7.) Play games
Another good homeschool tip for beginners is to have fun with your homeschool. Play games and make learning a positive experience.
Kids learn best through play. They engage their whole minds and bodies and are much more likely to retain the information they learn.
Games can be an important part of your homeschool learning, especially during the early years.
8.) Have a plan
Next on the list of homeschool tips for beginners is to have a plan. It’s really helpful to have an idea of your goals and milestones you want to cover over the next year.
Keeping up with all the different lesson plans, especially if you switch curriculums, can sometimes make things confusing. As you add in multiple kids, it’s easy to get a little lost or overwhelmed.
Having an overall plan can help make sure you’re meeting certain milestones over time. It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule that you stick to, but a plan can help you stay on track.
It also offers a way to measure if your children are progressing with their learning if you choose to use more non-traditional methods of homeschooling.
9.) Create a daily routine
Another good tip for new homeschoolers is to have a daily routine. It’s easy with all the freedom that comes from homeschooling to get off track.
You probably wake up with good intentions for the day, but the next thing you know it’s time to make dinner and you feel you didn’t get much done.
Having a homeschool routine will help your day run more smoothly and help your kids (and you!) stay on task.
Your homeschool routine can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. The important thing is that it works for your family.
Set aside time for each subject, allow for some free playtime, and make sure you have a good balance of activities.
10.) Join homeschool groups
Our next homeschool tip for beginners is something I wish I had done earlier. It’s so important to find other homeschoolers to connect with.
There are local homeschool groups all over the country (and world!) that you can join. There are also online homeschool groups, homeschool co-ops, and homeschool meetups.
Being part of a homeschool group gives you access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s a great way to find out about homeschooling resources, get homeschooling advice, and make homeschool friends.
Having other homeschool moms to talk with has been invaluable for me throughout this homeschool journey. It’s given me some much-needed support and encouragement that has made a huge difference in how we homeschool.
11.) Take breaks
Another homeschool tip for beginners is that it’s ok to take breaks. I promise, it really is.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can take breaks when you need to. Maybe your kids are having a hard day or maybe you’re just not feeling it.
It’s perfectly ok to take a break, switch gears, and come back to homeschooling later. Maybe do some fun homeschool science experiments or take a field trip.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be done every single day, all day long. You can homeschool 3 days a week or just a couple of hours a day. It’s totally up to you and what works for your family.
And remember, even public schools have off days. Between substitute teachers, assemblies, book fairs, and special events, even they don’t sit down and “learn” 100% of the time.
12.) Follow your children’s lead
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can let your child learn and explore at their own pace. This leads us to our next homeschool tip for beginners: follow their lead.
Without the pressures of keeping up with other children or meeting rigid expectations, children and natural-born learners. They’re constantly exploring and trying new things.
As homeschoolers, we can take advantage of this by following their interests and rabbit trails.
This doesn’t mean that you ditch your homeschool curriculum altogether. But it does mean that you’re flexible and willing to change things up when necessary.
It also means that you don’t have to stick to one homeschool method or approach. Try different homeschooling styles and methods until you find what works best for your family.
13.) Be flexible
Another great homeschool tip for beginners is to be flexible. Sometimes you’re going to try a curriculum out and it doesn’t work.
Or maybe you had an idea of something your kid would be interested in and it was a flop. That’s all a normal part of homeschooling.
Things will go much smoother if you learn to be flexible and open to trying new things. Your homeschool will evolve over time and that’s perfectly fine.
14.) Get the hardest subjects done early
A good piece of advice for new homeschoolers is to tackle the hardest subject early in the day. A lot of times children only have a finite amount of mental energy for the tough work.
Especially with young kids. That’s why it’s helpful to work on their toughest subject first.
That way you have more patience for teaching and they have more attention span for learning. Plus, once you get through the toughest subject, it’s all downhill from there. 😉
15.) Don’t expect perfection
Next on the list of homeschool tips for beginners is to have realistic expectations and don’t expect perfection. Your children aren’t perfect and neither are you.
Homeschooling is going to have its ups and downs. There will be good days and bad days. And that’s ok!
Just because homeschooling isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that your children aren’t learning.
Keep in mind too, that even in public school, children rarely learn anything to 100% mastery.
So don’t worry about getting everything “perfect.” Just do the best you can and know that your children are learning and growing, even on the bad days.
16.) Don’t be afraid to outsource
Another good tip for new homeschoolers to keep in mind is that it’s perfectly ok to outsource. You, by no means, need to be capable of teaching your child every subject yourself.
In fact, with all the amazing curriculums out there, you don’t have to know how to teach any subject independently. There are plenty of curriculums that will walk you through how to teach your child step-by-step.
You also don’t need to feel guilty about outsourcing subjects that you’re not confident in. For example, if you’re not good at math, there’s no shame in finding a homeschool math tutor for your child.
Outsourcing can take a lot of pressure off of you as the homeschool mom. So if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it or look for resources.
17.) Embrace the journey
My last homeschool tip for beginners is to embrace the journey. We only get a finite amount of time with our children and homeschooling gives us the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Homeschooling is a unique and wonderful experience that not every parent gets the opportunity to do. It may not always be easy, but it’s so worth it.
So savor the moments, both good and bad. And enjoy this time with your kids!
Conclusion to 17 Homeschool Tips for Beginners
I hope these homeschool tips for beginners have been helpful! Homeschooling can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but it’s also so rewarding.
Just remember to take it one day at a time, be flexible, and enjoy the journey!
Do you have any homeschool tips for beginners that you would add to this list? Share in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Pinterest for more homeschool and parenting advice.
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Candice is a mom of 3 who has been homeschooling since 2013. She has an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Studies and cares deeply about helping other parents get the information and resources they need to help them homeschool their children with confidence.