How to start homeschooling

by Marcie
girl in a blue shirt reading a book outside leaning against a tree

New to Homeschooling? The Easiest Way to get started!

  1. Don’t do anything
  2. Take away electronics
  3. Provide plenty of educational resources. The sky’s the limit on these:
  • Puppets or paper bags, socks supplies to make puppets
  • Dress up clothes
  • Toy musical instruments
  • Cars and trucks
  • Dolls and kitchen stuff
  • Doctor stuff
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Art supplies
  • Scrap wood, nails, and hammers
  • Bikes, scooters, and outdoor toys
  • Building toys such as Legos, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, Magformers, marble run, etc.
  • A list of games to play such as library, store, restaurant, ballet class, dentist, put on a play, do a talent show, etc. There are probably endless lists online of things kids can do when they’re bored. Post it somewhere and point the kids towards it when they’re bored.

I have read many homeschooling resources that all agree with the same philosophy: deschool before you start homeschooling. Children being pulled out of school need some time to deschool before starting up a new way of learning. Letting them do nothing for awhile is the best way. “Nothing” actually means letting a child learn creatively in their own way. They aren’t actually doing nothing. As long as there are no electronics and plenty of creative toys they will be learning all day long. 


Taking away electronics: I don’t have much experience with this as my children have never had much in the way of electronics. We didn’t get our first TV/DVD player until right before my 6th child was born. The first 5 kids grew up with dial up internet (very slow computer games so they rarely played), no tv, no movies, no cell phones, no nintendo or video games. It was great! My next few kids had the TV/DVD player (which was also our computer monitor) which I let them use only when the baby was napping so that I could go for a walk while my 10 year old was babysitting or scrapbook in my room. That was all. Then occasionally we watched a movie as a family, or the Olympics or a Christmas show. I loved that it was very well controlled by me and that the kids had a habit of playing together all day and didn’t even think of asking for a show. I only suggested it so that I could sneak out for a much needed walk and not worry that they’d cause trouble. My last 2 children have unfortunately grown up with a lot of technology. We have 2 Chromebooks (one for the family and one for me) and my oldest 4 kids and I all have our own cell phones. A family member gave us a Nintendo Switch and a few other family members gave us old iphones (with 8g) that they can play video games on. I feel like it’s almost out of control with the amount of devices we have that I need to keep track of. So what works for me is that I have a box that I keep the Switch in as well as those video game iphones and I hide it in my closet. Once a week we have a “movie party” where the 6 girls and I watch a show together (“Sweet Home Septuplets,” “Outdaughtered,” or “Counting On” are our favorites) and the 4 boys take turns with the Switch or Minecraft on the phones. This is our controlled electronic time. Nobody asks for it any other time and look forward to this party time and makes the most of it. They really appreciate it. 

So back to taking them away, I would kindly state the new family policy. Mine has always been a short show (usually pbs) during the baby’s nap so I get a break from all the kids at one time. (My husband did MD/PhD/residency for 10 years and has never been one to give me time alone so I counted on this time for my sanity.) Then a once a week video game/movie time as a family. Tell your family this new policy and kindly enforce it. Everytime they ask for electronics excitedly tell them when it’s allowed and help them look forward to that time. Be consistent and right away they will learn the new rule.

Once you are thoroughly deschooled (a few days, a few weeks, or even a whole school year), start your new schedule. I would highly suggest homeschooling from breakfast to lunch time then letting them go play after lunch for as long as they want. When they get bored or ask for electronics or are fighting, institute “personal time.” This is where everyone goes to a different room (or different couch cushion as for 7 years we had a 2 bedroom house and I had a baby napping in the kids’ room and I wanted my room so I put the 3 other kids on different couch cushions) and has to do something all by himself. Most of the time they all sit and read but if they complain I remind them they are allowed to do a Magna Doodle, Etch-a-Sketch, color, etc, it just has to be something quiet and alone. Usually they still choose to read.

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