Homeschooling: Getting started, part 1

Parents consider home schooling their child(ren) for a number of reasons. Some may be dissatisfied with the curriculum offered by local public and private schools. Others may travel a lot and want their children to experience other countries and cultures. Whatever your reason for considering home schooling, this series of articles will teach you basic steps to take to begin home schooling your child(ren). Today’s article teaches you six important first steps to ensuring a successful and legal transition from traditional school settings to home school.

1. Review state home schooling laws. The first step you should take is to research your state’s home school related education. These regulations are easily found on the internet by entering “home school” in the search box on your state’s department of education website. This will tell you everything you need to know about needed documentation, deadlines, how to withdraw your child(ren) from public school to begin home schooling, and whether or not your child(ren) can attend some classes in public schools.

2. Choose your curriculum. Once you’ve reviewed state home school laws and initiated any needed paperwork, the next step is to choose your curriculum. Curriculum means, “What is taught” and includes any subject you, your spouse or partner, or a tutor will teach the student. You may choose to use state or national academic standards as a guide. These are available on your state’s department of education web site. Home schooling parents have freedom to choose the subjects they teach their child(ren). You will also need to choose the books and materials your child(ren) will use and purchase these before you start teaching.

3. Decide what you can teach. Not everyone is great at every subject. Some parents may be great at Science and Math, but not as good at English and Social Studies. Since you will need to provide a well - rounded education to your child(ren), you need to be able to teach all subjects well. If there are any classes you don’t think you can teach you should seek outside help. Some options are: having your child attend public school for these subjects, enlisting the help of more knowledgeable extended family members in the subjects, or hiring a tutor to teach these subjects. A tutor could also help by reviewing your lesson plans, providing feedback and activity suggestions, and helping you adjust your plans as needed.

4. Create a school year. This is more difficult than it sounds. When creating a school year for your child(ren), you’ll want to take into account holidays, vacations and other planned travel, and a scheduled break or two (think fall and spring break). Most school districts have a 180 - day school year on average. Use this as a guideline for creating your own school calendar.

5. Create a school day. Parents can use their knowledge of their child(ren)’s habits and personalities to personalize the school day. If your child is a fast learner, maybe they don’t need seven or eight hours of school every weekday. Maybe your child is more alert after lunch. If so, start the school day after they eat. If your child loves art, try having an art class every day. You will be much more successful if you consider your child(ren)’s needs when creating your school day schedule.

6. Set learning goals. Having goals will keep you and your child(ren) on track to get a year’s worth of learning out of the planned school year. Think of your goals as waypoints. You may not finish all content by the date you set initially, but this is okay. Some content may be harder for your child(ren) to understand and you’ll need to spend more time teaching and reviewing it. Your learning goals will be there as an outline of your school year.


These six steps will serve to get you and your child(ren) started out right on the home schooling journey. Take the time to plan your school year and school day to suit your child(ren)’s learning style and personality. Review state home school related laws and complete any needed forms by the deadline. Use state and national academic standards to help you choose the subjects you will teach. This will also help you decide what books, workbooks, and other materials you’ll need to rent or buy. Finally, make sure to set weekly and monthly learning goals to guide you during the school year. This will help keep you on track so that your child completes all planned material by the end of the school year.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of my blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you, or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page. If you have a topic suggestion, please leave it in the Comment section below.


I was director of a homeschooling group registered with the state and maintained all the legal documents for 14 years.  A recurring divide between types of parents were those who chose to homeschool for positive reason and those who chose for negative reasons.
Positive reasons include parents who want to spend quality time with their family, see that Ah Ha! moment when their child learns something new.  Sometimes these students have special talents (one of "my kids" went to the olympics, another danced professional ballet) and these students typically have extremely involved parents. Other positive reasons were parents' desire to model and instill moral or religious values, teach basic life skills such as cooking, sewing, gardening, building elctrical wiring and so on.  For the most part, these parents love homeschooling, they do a great job, their kids are well educated (and polite) and the family homeschools for an extended period of time.  They hire tutors judiciously and appreciate their help very much.
Negative reasons for homeschooling are the parents don't like the school policies, teachers, curicullum, other kids, other parents and so on.  Sometimes there are some genuine concerns and the parents are making a wise choice.  Many other times, the parents are dissatisfied with life in general.  They have tutors for many different subjects.  Don't be surprised if they are less than happy with what ever services you provide, and don't be surprised when the kids end up back in traditional school 
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