The Best Advice for How to Start Home School

the best advice for how to start home school

There’s no doubt that more moms than ever are wondering how to start home school for their kids.

With the worldwide coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, many families are considering homeschooling their kids for the upcoming school year. But the question is: HOW to start home school for your family?

Although homeschool isn’t easy, keeping your kids home and safe from potential exposure to the virus can definitely be a great option.

But it can also be super overwhelming. 

Now that we’ve been homeschooling for eight years, I often get questions from other moms who are wondering how to start home school for their family. 

Here are their most frequently asked questions, and my replies based on what we’ve experienced in our home over the years.

Not to mention, here is a free printable homeschool daily schedule for you to print! You can use the times I recommend or you can choose your own! 

get your free homeschool daily schedule printable here

Please know that my homeschool is FAR from perfect. While we have an ideal day here and there, I am constantly evaluating and reframing our routine, curriculum, and daily learning so we can improve over time. 

If you want to know the 10 things I wish I’d known before I started homeschooling, check out this post here! 

Our homeschool story

Really quickly, here’s a quick look into why I decided to start homeschooling our kids.

As a young mom, I never thought I’d homeschool (or be a mom blogger offering homeschool tips! ha!)

I was concerned about their socialization, how I’d cope with having them home all day long, and how I’d keep up with making sure they were learning everything they needed to.

The responsibility seemed like more than I could handle.

Does this sound familiar?!

After my oldest son started getting bored with first grade, and after visiting the second grade classrooms at his school, I knew we were heading for trouble. None of the teachers seemed like a great fit for him. He’d tested into the gifted and talented program in kindergarten, but there would be no resources available to him other than “extra worksheets” until third grade. Yikes. 

I talked to my husband about possibly homeschooling and after a few weeks of talking it over, my hubs agreed.

Before we were ready to completely commit, I decided to put our decision to the test:

I asked five public school teachers what they thought about our decision to homeschool.

Here’s the crazy thing: ALL five of them said WE SHOULD DO IT

With the green light and their encouragement, I started to ask questions of my mom friends who also happened to homeschool.

Not surprisingly, these are the same most common questions I hear now from my friends who are wondering how to start home school too.  

So let’s dive in, shall we?! 

the best advice for how to start home school

Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission if you click through or purchase. I only recommend products that I feel strongly you will love and will help you to live your mom life on purpose.

Q: How do I find the best homeschool resources and curriculum? 

A: Because homeschool has grown so much in popularity over the last few years, the resources available are practically endless.

With many options of varying price structure, format, and depth out there, I recommend narrowing your search by deciding on three things first:

  1. your homeschool budget
  2. what types of learners your kids are
  3. what type of teacher you think you’d like to be

Let’s talk about each of these three things for a minute.

start home school by researching curriculumYour homeschool budget

Please know that you do NOT have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get the best curriculum available! 

To be super clear: If your budget is limited, mama, that is OKAY!!! 

Take a look at your finances and decided how much money you can spend on homeschool.

It may help to take into account how much money you will be saving by not having your child attend public school.

Although we tend to view public school as free, that really isn’t the case at all.

Think about all school-related expenditures you make for one child throughout the school year.

These expenses could include:

  • school clothes/uniforms
  • school supplies
  • backpacks
  • lunchboxes
  • classroom supplies (tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • picture days
  • lunches/snacks
  • field trips
  • school spirit wear
  • yearbooks
  • book fairs
  • PTA dues
  • class party participation (Valentines, Halloween treats, etc.)

Starting with this list, you can see that you typically spend several hundred dollars on school-related expenses each year. 

Those several hundred dollars can easily be applied to homeschool resources and curriculum, right?!`

Determine your child’s learning style

There are many in-depth studies that have been developed to understand the learning styles of children. 

But this simple learning styles quiz from Scholastic will help you to quickly identify whether your child learns best by looking, listening, or doing. 

This knowledge will be incredibly helpful as you decide on the best curriculum for your kids! 

Consider your own teaching style

Because your role in your homeschool will be HUGE, it is so important to have an idea of what type of teaching style you prefer. If you are thriving as a teacher or a homeschool facilitator, your kids are so much more likely to succeed too. 

Do you see yourself as a really hands-on teacher? Do you think coming up with lesson plans sounds fun? Does setting up art projects, field trips, or unit studies get you pumped?

Or would you rather be more of a facilitator and allow someone else to do the actual teaching – often in an online or video format?  

There are plenty of curriculum options available for both types of teaching style (and all the teaching styles in between too!). 

How to find the best homeschool resources

1. Curriculum review websites

One of the most well-known homeschool curriculum review sites is maintained by Cathy Duffy, a veteran homeschooler who has been in the curriculum review business since 1984! Her site is HUGE and has more information that you could ever need! 

Another great option for finding curriculum reviews is to simply type “homeschool curriculum reviews” into a Google search. You’ll be able to scroll through TONS of great homeschool blogs and find a few that match your style and preferences. 

2. Amazon reviews

While I love a good curriculum review website, it’s important to keep in mind that many of the review sites are affiliates for particular products. 

That’s why I think it’s a great idea to also visit Amazon, type in the curriculum that you’re considering and read the customer reviews too!

3. Visit a local homeschool or Christian book store

Sometimes there is nothing like having the opportunity to look through the actual resources and curriculum themselves. 

If you’re having a hard time deciding on curriculum, definitely consider taking an afternoon or weekend morning to spend a few hours thumbing through different resources in person at your local Christian or homeschool bookstore.

4. Join local homeschool Facebook groups

Doing a quick Facebook search for homeschool groups in your area will most likely bring up several different groups to join. 

You may consider introducing yourself as a newbie homeschooler, ask for curriculum recommendations OR ask if anyone has a particular curriculum for sale.

There is nothing like making a new homeschooling friend AND scoring a great deal on curriculum at the same time! 

5. Talk to your homeschooling mama friends

Ask your homeschooling mom friends what type of curriculum they use or have used in the past. Getting their honest opinions will be hugely helpful because you know that, as your friend, they have your best interest at heart.

I am always flattered and excited to share my homeschool experience and recommendations with my friends who ask. (So if you have more questions about how to start home school, join my newsletter community and shoot me an email! I’d love to help you!)

If you don’t know any other homeschool moms, check out my featured Homeschool Mama of the Week! She’ll have some great wisdom and curriculum recommendations for you too. 

Remember that no matter what anyone recommends, your goal is to find the curriculum that matches your budget, your child’s learning style, and your personal teaching preferences! 

Q: What are your homeschool tips for staying organized?

A: My BIGGEST homeschool tip to stay organized is to have a section of your home dedicated to schooling.

Whether that means that you convert a guest room, the basement, loft or attic, or a den, it will be WORTH IT! 

Speaking from experience, it is not so fun to have homeschool at the kitchen table! While it is do-able, I don’t recommend it. 

Learn more about what you do and don’t need for your homeschool room right here!

you can start home school in one small area of your homeHomeschool furniture

Wherever you decide to make your homeschool area, it is likely you might need a few inexpensive furniture pieces to get organized.

You may consider setting up a small indoor picnic table in the playroom for your younger children, or a couple of small, inexpensive, easy set-up desks in the den or dining room for your older kids. 

If you know that homeschool is only a temporary solution for your family, you might pick up a few of these simple folding chairs with attached desks. They are very similar to what you’d find in a middle or high school classroom. 

Also essential to a homeschool room is a sturdy, low bookshelf to hold your curriculum, binders, and supplies. I recommend a shorter bookshelf so your younger kids can reach their materials as needed. 

Homeschool organization supplies

To keeps papers organized, three-ring binders have been my go-to for years.

For kids in elementary grades and younger, I recommend keeping two three-ring binders per child for one school year. One binder is for math, social studies and science and the other binder is for language arts.

For kids in middle school, three three-ring binders have done the trick for us. One is for math, science, and logic, one for social studies and Spanish (or another language), and the last for language arts. 

This set of four colorful, durable three-ring binders is a great deal right now! You can separate the sections with these sturdy dividers with double pockets as well. (Buying things like binders and dividers in bulk is always a good option!)

For school supplies, I HIGHLY recommend keeping all of the school supplies together in one area – there is no need for each of your kids to have her own pencil or crayon box.

This rotating desk organizer has several compartments that are perfect for pencils, crayons, markers, pens and more – plus the handle makes it easily portable too! 

Q: How should I schedule our homeschool? 

This is a very important question and one that will not only affect your daily routine, but will also determine a lot of what will happen in your family for the next year. 

Your Daily Homeschool Schedule

Determining your daily homeschool schedule or routine is super important.

The good news is that you can tailor this 100% to the needs of your family!

Check out my best recommendations for a successful homeschool day:

  • start at the same time every day – set a time to start school and stick to it as close as you possibly can! 
  • keep the same daily homeschool routine. Do the same subjects in same order, have lunch at the same time, etc. 
  • start the day by getting your kids’ minds warmed up. Taking five to ten minutes to read aloud to your kids is a great way to get everyone organized, together and engaged. 
  • begin with the hardest subject first. Whether that is math, grammar, or spelling, it is best to do the most difficult subject for your kids first while their minds are still fresh. 
  • have one or two subjects that you do as a group everyday. History or social studies and science are very easy subjects to teach and tailor to differing ages of kids. For example, if you’re teaching about knights in the middle ages, you could begin by reading aloud about knights to everyone. After the reading, you could have your younger kids make their own pretend chain mail. Your older kids can research and write five paragraphs about the process of becoming a knight. 
  • end your school day at the same time everyday. It is okay if you don’t cover everything in a day! That happens often in public school, and you will have the luxury of being able to pick up exactly where your ONE student left off instead of having to go back and review with an entire classroom full of kids.
get your free homeschool daily schedule printable here

Your Yearly Homeschool Calendar

There are many ways to structure your yearly homeschool calendar. It is a good idea to have a general plan before you begin the school year! 

Some of the most common methods for calendaring your homeschool year are:

  • follow the local public school calendar. This can be especially helpful if you have some of your kids in public school and others at home for homeschool. 
  • adopt a six week on, one week off calendar. If you plan to be more of a hands-on teacher, this system is great because it will give you an opportunity to have a planning week several times throughout the year. 
  • decide to homeschool year-round. This is the very best way to help your kids continually progress with their learning. You may take a few holidays or weeks off throughout the year, but for the most part, your M.O. is that school just happens everyday. 

keep coming back for more info on how to start home school in your homeQ: How do you get everything done as a homeschool mom?

A: This is THE most common question I hear from moms who are wondering how to start home school. I wish I could say that I DID get everything done!

Being a homeschool mama has helped me to get really organized – especially with routines and systems that keep our home running smoothly. 

For example, I only do clothes laundry once a week. 

I meal plan once a month. 

My kids do almost ALL of the household cleaning. (They’re ages 14-4 … I know you were wondering!)

And I’ve learned how to wake up before my kids everyday so I have a little me-time in the morning. 

I have the groceries delivered. 

If you are interested in any of these systems and routines, hop on over to my mom blog over at www.jenbradleymoms.com!

While everything may not always get done, stick with me, and I’ll show you how you can have a fulfilling life for yourself AND be a homeschool mom too! 

Final thoughts on how to start homeschooling

If you are on the fence about homeschooling or are wondering how to start home school this year, I want to reassure you that it can be a very positive thing for your family! 

Of course, every family’s situation is different. Way back in the beginning of our homeschool journey, I purchased the book called, So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, and I definitely recommend it for anyone thinking about homeschooling in the near future! I loved seeing how families from all walks of life made homeschool work for them. 

And be assured that if you do decide to start home school, I am happy to support you along your way! 

Related articles about how to start home school

How to Keep a Toddler Busy While You Homeschool

-5 Awesome Homeschool Math Curriculums You Need to Check Out

-10 Important Secrets to Help with Homeschooling this Year

What Do You Need for a Great Homeschooling Room?

If you are looking for more specific help on how to start home school, start by checking out the FREE resource library!

Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Jen, a former reluctant homeschool mom who is ready to help you actually enjoy homeschooling too. Read more here…

the reluctant homeschool mom blog

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