I remember clearly my first day of homeschooling. I had visited all of the conventions in our area, talked with several homeschooling families, and had read everything I could get my hands on at the library. And although I was really prepared, the butterflies in my stomach hadn’t gotten that memo! I was so nervous, and as a result, my first day didn’t go so well. We made it through, though, and years later, I’ve learned so much about how to start homeschooling each year for each grade level. If you’re nervous or wondering how to start homeschooling your elementary student, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s your how-to guide to get started homeschooling elementary, regardless of your experience!
The First Steps
Just like your child’s first walking steps, your first footsteps into homeschooling are going to feel wobbly and at times uncontrollable. That’s OK! The hard part, deciding to teach your child regardless of the opposition or concerns others have, is over. Now, it’s time to focus on getting a few key elements figured out so that you can begin walking with confidence.
Figure out your state homeschool requirements. The first time I sent in my letter of intention to homeschool to our local district, I wasn’t really sure what needed to go with it. So, I sent a letter, my child’s birth certificate, and a list of the books I was going to use. I conveniently forgot to sign the letter! Looking back, I laugh at that mistake. Take it from me, it’s best to know what’s required before you start, which can save you headaches, fines, and struggles later on. It’s critical that you know what courses are required (like state history), how many days or hours you need to do school, and what you need to turn in to show mastery each year. Find out your state requirements here.
Create a plan. Once you’re armed with your state homeschool requirements, you’ll be ready to start creating a rough plan of your year. Don’t — I repeat — don’t jump right into looking at curriculum. You’ll either go cross-eyed, curl into a ball, or explode. Just kidding! But you will get very overwhelmed and possibly make poor decisions. Instead, create a plan of what you want your kids to learn and how. It’s like a pie: you’ll want a good foundation first before you put in your filling.
You’ll need to plan (even unschoolers do it) to keep you on track and get you where you want to go. If you want to buy a planner, go for it. I love these free homeschooling planning printables (and use them yearly!). Gather your planning system first and a separate notebook to make notes about curriculum and class choices. Then, jot down a few objectives and goals. These should be academic (I want Johnny to learn to read) and relational (I want more family time, lots of field trips, etc.). Refer back to these goals each month to see how you’re doing and to make sure you’re accomplishing what you set out to do.
Find your tools and support. Now you’re ready to find some great curriculum that’s going to be the fruit to your amazing homeschooling pie. You may want to read about learning styles and different types of homeschooling. If you’re the kind who wants to chart your own course, consider what matters most to you and start there. You know the basics (children need to learn to read, do math, and learn basic science, history, etc. in elementary school), so start there and build.
Love science? Get yourself and your kids excited about homeschooling elementary by looking into fun, engaging science options. Ask around about subjects you’re uncomfortable with. Or, go with an expert homeschool partner or school that can guide you. There are lots of options, including going it alone, buying all-in-one curriculum by the year, or going with a full-service partner. Find what works for your goals and go with it!
Get organized. There’s nothing that can make homeschooling seem like an impossible chore more than lack of organization. Whether you’ve got a dedicated homeschool space or are planning to use the kitchen table, you’ll need to be organized. Here are a few great suggestions to consider when buying supplies and making a homeschool space that says, “We’re ready to learn!”
Get going! The last step in getting started homeschooling elementary is just to . . . start! Jump in with the confidence that homeschooling is going to be the best decision your family has ever made. You’ll have stronger bonds, your children will get their needs met by you — their first and best teacher — and they’ll learn about what matters most to you in a safe environment. So, get going elementary homeschooling rock star. It only gets better from here!