How Do I Start Homeschooling My Child?

According to the United States Department of Education, about 1.8 million students were homeschooled in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year that statistics were available.

If you are contemplating homeschooling your own child, you might wonder how to begin. Great ways to get started with homeschooling include learning about the homeschooling laws in your state, connecting with other homeschool parents in your area, and creating a homeschool plan. Here’s how to start homeschooling your child:

Learn the homeschooling laws in your state

Rules about homeschooling vary from state to state. While all states permit parents to educate their children at home, there are certain states, such as California, that may require parents to register as a private school. Other states, like New York, require students to take standardized tests at certain grade levels. You should also call your local public school district to see if you are required to officially withdraw your child from school in order to avoid an investigation from a truant officer.

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Create a plan for homeschooling your child

Homeschooling provides you with some freedom to tailor your child’s education to his or her likes, dislikes, learning style, and needs. Two of the homeschooling structures that are used today include the traditional approach, where a student follows a structured, school-like curriculum created by his or her parent, and the unschooling approach, where students choose what and when they would like to learn. Many homeschool families also adopt techniques in-between these two approaches.

Consider your child’s personality when deciding which homeschooling route to take. Is your child an enthusiastic self-starter, or does he or she thrive with outside structure? Is your child artistic, or more focused on traditional school subjects like math and science? Consider these potential scenarios:

  • Student A is highly self-motivated with creative tendencies. He may do better in a less structured educational environment.

  • Student B positively responds to structure. She may do better in a more traditional homeschooling environment.

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Reach out to other parents who are homeschooling their children

It can be challenging for first-time homeschoolers to determine which approach is right for their family. To gain more insight, you can reach out to homeschooling parents in your community and ask them how they developed their homeschooling approach. If you’re having trouble finding parents who homeschool in your community, it can be helpful to chat with parents online through resources like homeschooling forums.

Homeschool co-ops can also be helpful for first-time homeschooling parents. A homeschool co-op creates a space where parents can trade their expertise and experience. Look online and on social media to see if a homeschool co-op exists in your area.

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Take your time when starting homeschooling

It can take time for your family to adjust to homeschooling, especially if your child has already been to a public or private school. It will also take time for you, the parent, to acclimate to being a teacher. Patience is essential.

Be observant of your child’s progress and attitude. If something isn’t working, re-evaluate it, and try different curricula or educational philosophies. Homeschooling can be very effective due to its flexibility and its ability to accommodate the needs of your child, your values, and your lifestyle.


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