Here are some very common feelings to first considering homeschool.

  • Denial - "Nah, my child is fine.  They don't need to be homeschooled."
  • Sadness - "But homeschool was just not in my plans."
  • Doubt - "Am I even qualified to homeschool?"
  • Fear - "What am I thinking? This is a huge responsibility!"

There are also the more optimistic feelings that often come later, after a lot of research and support.

  • Acceptance - "School just isn't working for my child.  We need to try something else."
  • Happiness - "Roll with the punches right? This'll be fun!"
  • Confidence - "I can handle this.  I've got the all information at my fingertips.. it's called the internet!"
  • Courage/Faith - "It will be difficult, but I know it's the right thing to do. Everything will work out."

I'm going to be honest; throughout your homeschool journey you will probably bounce back and forth between the pessimistic and the optimistic feelings.  Those nasty doubts and fears will try to tear you down, but don't believe them; they are lies!  I assure you: If you persevere through the rough feelings and work to find your homeschool style that fits your family, your children will absolutely maximize their learning potential and achieve a joy in learning you didn't think possible. 

We at HECOA are here to help you! And here we will give you step-by-step, how to get started in homeschooling.

  1. Take a Deep Breath. 
    You are going to be fine.  Your child is going to be fine.  You are here; and that means love your child and you care about their education.  It also means you are willing to work hard to provide what they need to succeed.  These facts make you more qualified than anyone to facilitate your child's education.  You can do this.

  2. Look Up Homeschool Laws for Your State
    The best reference for state homeschool laws is the
    ~HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association)~
    They keep current listings for each state and can help you find out exactly how to pull your child out of school and which legal requirements you must meet in home education.

  3. Detox From Public School
    Most people make the mistake of skipping this step. Don't skip detox! It is so important to the success of your homeschool.  Don't try to dive right into a curriculum, and don't try to schedule daily school hours.  Homeschool is NOT school at home.  The reason people choose home education is because conventional school isn't working. Don't fall into the "school at home" trap.  Both you and your child need to detox from the conventional thinking of public school. Kid's don't need to earn grades to learn, they don't need to pass a standardized test to prove their intelligence, they don't need to learn concepts at the same pace as their peers, and learning can take place at all times and in all places, etc..etc. 
    DETOX MEANS:
    * Refrain from pushing a learning agenda.
    * Don't worry about falling behind
    * Stop comparing yourself and your child to others.
    * Just spend time with your child. Have fun together.
    * Get to know them and their learning style. 
    * Find out their interests. 
    * Take note of their strengths and what they could work on.
    * Build a strong, trusting relationship with your child.
    True detox can last for a few months, or even take up to a year depending on your family's needs. 
     
  4. Prepare Yourself for the Opposition
    This is important to remember.  As home educators we sometimes get resistance from family, friends, and even our own children.  New or unfamiliar concepts are targets for persecution. People might say we are "sheltering" our children or that we are not "socializing" them.  These are common misconceptions about homeschooling.  Children may fight back, because they want to be with their friends and do what the other kids are doing.  Spouses might not be 100% supportive of homeschool.  These are roadblocks, but they don't mean we need to turn back.  Work on developing a thick skin and stay strong in your decision. 

  5. Ask Yourself "What is the end goal for my child?"
    This could mean acceptance into a college or university. It could mean entrepreneurship or a successful career.  It might mean preparing for world travel.  You may want to teach self-sufficiency or expertise in survival and life skills.  This could mean just raising a decent, kind, and empathetic human being.. which is quite an accomplishment in the current times.  Whatever your family decides is important for your child to learn or achieve.. that focus will help determine your home education path.

  6. Research Different Homeschool Styles
    This will make your head spin at first.  There are many methods and styles of homeschooling! And most home educators choose a hybrid of multiple styles, and even more change their styles several times.  Trial and error will be your friend, and will help you find the best homeschool rhythm for your family.
    Check out ~Homeschooling Styles~ to familiarize yourself with the most common methods currently being used.

  7. Join Your Local Homeschool Groups
    Get on Facebook! It is the best place to network with other homeschoolers.  Go to the Facebook search bar and put in your state, county or city and add the word "homeschool."  Several groups should pop up.  Remember to join "groups" vs "pages."  Groups are more interactive and will allow you to ask questions and learn from other conversations.  By joining and observing your local homeschool groups, you will quickly find out how other parents are homeschooling. You will also find out the best places for field trips and educational activities in your area. 
    HECOA also moderates the ~Home Education Support Group~ on Facebook, where we have thousands of homeschoolers helping each other answer questions.   

  8. Start Gathering Educational Resources
    You will find yourself looking at everything as an educational opportunity.  Make a list of places you want to visit and resources you want to try. 
    Local libraries are amazing epicenters for learning.  There are often events and activities offered by libraries.  I have heard that some libraries even have special offers for educators (which includes home educators!)
    You'll find "how to" books and books on homeschool methods.  Feel free to read and get ideas from other homeschoolers, but don't be afraid to disagree and move on to the next book.  The author wants to help you, but their style may not work with your family dynamics.
    Online resources keep growing and improving. There are games, websites, curriculums, blogs, etc. But be careful not to spend a lot of money on resources that you aren't 100% sure you want to use. There are way too many perfectly helpful free resources out there to make that mistake.

  9. Keep At It
    Persistence and patience is key! You will gets stressed and frustrated.  You will need to scrap your plans and start fresh.  But don't get discouraged.  Remember there is progress happening that you won't see right away. Have faith in yourself and in your child. The things worth doing are never easy, but the rewards are incredible.

  10. And finally.. join Home Education Council of America! 😉 
    In all honesty, becoming a member at HECOA will provide you with support and incredibly helpful resources to help you find your joy in learning and success in home education. We are here to help you as individuals.  Send us emails with your questions and your needs and we will find a way to help you in your journey.  
    Basic Membership is FREE and will give you access to our Live Online Homeschool Conferences and Workshops!
    We also offer upgraded membership options for an annual fee that offer even more in-depth resources, like courses to skip middle school and high school transcript assistance.