How to Start Homeschooling

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

This article is about how to start homeschooling, the very first steps before you even pick out curriculum.

New to Homeschooling? The Easiest Way to get started!

  1. Don’t do anything
  2. Take away electronics
  3. Provide plenty of educational resources.

1. Don’t do anything

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. 

2. Take away electronics

Keep a family device such as a chromebook or laptop on the family computer table and allow children to use it for school purposes, putting books on hold, etc. They can use it at the computer desk or kitchen table or other family area, but not in bedrooms. Any video game devices like Nintendos keep in a container in your closet. These are just brought out during family movie party nights once a week or whenever you designate as electronics time. (For us it’s 1-2 nights a week. We make homemade taquitos or pizza or popcorn and watch a movie or allow video games on the Switch or ipad someone gave us. We hang out in the living room together and everyone enjoys it.)

If your child throws fits or begs for a device, don’t give in. Tell your family this new policy and kindly enforce it. Every time they ask for electronics excitedly tell them when it’s allowed. “We’re going to have a movie party on Friday night. We’re going to make pizza and popcorn and it’ll be really fun.” Help them view electronics as special time and look forward to that time. Be consistent and right away they will learn the new rule.

3. Provide plenty of educational resources

  • 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 make believe 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.
  • Don’t forget books! Let them pick out as many books from the library as they want from the non-fiction section. Books on mummies, snakes, earthquakes, science experiments, how to make puppets, ASL dictionary, origami, airplanes, tornadoes, sharks, whatever your child is interested in!

That’s all there is to starting homeschooling!

Don’t buy a bunch of textbooks or programs. Don’t start formal learning.

Take away electronics.

Provide lots of educational resources.

A child’s most important work is to play. So if they have plenty of free play time they will learn all they need to.

A quick story

My sister-in-law, Sara, was pulled out of school for a year or two in middle school and homeschooled. Only her mom says they didn’t do any formal schooling. She was pregnant, they were having financial problems, and the dad was very busy. It was the 90’s so they didn’t have any electronics, not even a TV. Sara read a lot of books, played with the little kids, played the piano, did arts and crafts, and played outside. Just by not having electronics but having plenty of free play time and basic resources available (paper, crayons, scrap fabric for puppets, blocks, Legos, encyclopedias, etc) she naturally taught herself what she needed to know. When she was put back in school in 9th grade, her grades were better than middle school. She got straight A’s and went to a fantastic college. It’s always been a testimony to me that “doing nothing”– nothing formal anyway–is just fine. As long as kids are playing creatively and reading a lot, they will learn all they need to.

How to start homeschooling (more formally)

Once you are thoroughly deschooled (a few days, a few weeks, or even a whole school year), start your new schedule. I have a lot of articles written on curriculum and schedules. But I will comment on them quikcly here.

Homeschool curriculum

Start by getting books from the library. Let your child pick out as many books about whatever subjects he wants: dinosaurs, earthquakes, mummies, rocks, etc. Let him read them as often as he wants. Go back for more! Notice which subjects he’s really drawn to and find more to do with it. If it’s dinosaurs, then make one out of origami or draw it with artforkidshub. Find a fiction book about dinosaurs. Sing songs about dinosaurs. Get a poster to hang up with dinos on it. Crawl around like a dinosaur for PE. You get the idea! Try to incorporate as many subjects as you can out of one topic. Then fill out a school subject tracker to keep track.

Homeschool schedule

I would highly suggest homeschooling from breakfast to lunch time. Read the books, make the crafts, write a book report, do some PE surrounding the topic, etc. After lunch I suggest having an hour of “personal time.” This is where nobody can talk to each other. They can go to their rooms, read on the couch, or do art at the table or play outside. It doesn’t matter where they are, they just can’t talk to anyone and no electronics. The baby can nap if you have a baby and you can have an hour to yourself to catch up on emails or read without being interrupted. We have it set as 1-2 every day. It’s wonderful to have that time I know nobody will be talking to me and I can get my own things done. My children look forward to it too. Most of them read but they also do Magna Doodles, draw, crochet, play their ukulele quietly in their bedroom, play with dolls or cars, etc.

After personal time send them outside to play. Children need 3-4 hours of unstructured outside time a day. If you don’t have much to do outside, look at yard sales and start asking for outside toys for birthday and Christmas presents. Jump ropes, balls, a trampoline, swings, hula hoops, frisbees, lawn darts, and so much more. Encourage them to come up with their own ideas with nothing like doing cartwheels or having a handstand contest. They can take toys outside to play like having a doll picnic or playing with cars on the driveway and drawing roads with chalk. Just send them outside!

Final thoughts about how to start homeschooling

I hope this helps you know how to start homeschooling and feel confident about it. As long as there are no or little electronics but plenty of books and resources, you can’t mess your child up. Believe me! You’ll be great! Sign up for coaching if you’d like one-on-one help. I’d love to hear your concerns and give you encouragement. You got this!

Pictures

1. Talea is always doing art of some sort. I’m glad we homeschool so that she has plenty of time to do it. Keep plenty of art supplies handy for kids to grab on their own when inspiration strikes.

2. Samuel and Anderson spent a whole day pretending to be loggers, cutting up branches with their pretend saws.

3. As long as kids read a lot, they will be fine, especially as you deschool. Keep piles and baskets of books next to all the cozy places in your house and let them read as much as they want.

4. A dress up box is a great thing to also have on hand for kids to play with at anytime.

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