5 Easy Steps to Begin Your Homeschool Journey

Homeschooling has become an increasingly popular choice for families seeking a personalized and flexible education ๐Ÿ“š for their children. I am noticing more and more people these days considering, ๐Ÿค” or at least looking into the option of homeschooling their children, which is super exciting! ๐ŸŽ‰

I feel like there are two types of homeschool families… 

๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป‍๐Ÿซ the ones who have planned to homeschool since their kiddos were babies

๐Ÿคช and then there are the ones who sort of got thrown into it, but quickly realized the awesome potential it holds 

Which homeschool journey best describes you, mama? Were you thrown into it? Been planning for years? Or maybe something else… be sure to share in the comments ๐Ÿ‘‡ I would love to have a convo about your journey!

I never thought I would homeschool

If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would consider homeschooling my kids, I would have given you a big fat… “heck no!” ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿšซ HOWEVER, the last 4 years of homeschooling have truly been such a blessing โค๏ธ and at this point I can’t imagine sending my kids back to school.

Homeschooling has changed me in many ways; it has allowed me to see learning in a different light that is so beautiful and magical to witness. โœจ Now don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of days that I want to pull my hair out ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ˜ฎ‍๐Ÿ’จ and ship my 3 boys off to a boarding school ๐Ÿซ ๐Ÿ˜‚ BUT even with those days, I would still choose homeschooling!

In this blog, I am excited to share my experiences and offer some valuable tips โค๏ธ for the mama who is considering, or just beginning her homeschooling journey. 

Let me help turn your overwhelm into confidence as you get started with these 5 simple steps. ๐Ÿ’ช

Now, please keep in mind as you read this blog, that every family is different and every state has different homeschooling laws. I will leave you with some tools to help you figure out what may be best for you and your family.

I know the decision to homeschool your kid(s) can be extremely overwhelming. 
When I first began I felt...
๐Ÿ˜ฉ lost
๐Ÿคท‍โ™€๏ธ confused
๐Ÿ™ concerned
๐Ÿ˜ฃ overwhelmed
๐Ÿซฃ scared
๐Ÿค— excited
โค๏ธ seriously, all the emotions! 

So if this is you right now, please know that you are not alone!

Do yourself a favor and... 
take a deep breath mama! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ‍๐Ÿ’จ 
It’s truly not as complicated as we make it out to be. (And that’s coming from a mom who homeschools in one of the most strict homeschooling states)

Im going to walk you through some first steps to take in your homeschooling journey ๐Ÿ and hopefully these steps will get you closer to your decision and/or starting your homeschool for the year. ๐Ÿ‘


STATE SPECIFIC HOMESCHOOLING LAWS
First things first, get familiar with your state’s laws and regulations around homeschooling. ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“œ You will likely need to report to your school district your decision to homeschool, as well as send in some basic paperwork and possibly reports depending on your state.

You can find information about your state by simply googling “homeschool laws in [insert your state]”.

โ—๏ธI would recommend becoming familiar with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They define themselves as "a non-profit advocacy organization that makes homeschooling possible by protecting homeschooling families and equipping them to provide the best educational experience for their children." You can become a member or simply use their free site for basic information. They have loads of resources, up-to-date homeschool laws, a search database for local homeschool groups, homeschooling grant applications, and much more.

๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

HSLDA has a lovely map that shows which US States have the strictest homeschooling laws (don’t panic, I live in NY which is one of the strictest states and it’s really not as bad or scary as it seems on paper, I promise!) 

Check out the map below, then visit HSLDA to look up the specific laws for your state.


If you live in a green state, congratulations ๐ŸŽ‰ You don't need to do any reporting, and you can simply begin homeschool whenever and however you would like! (be sure to double check things on the HSLDA site just to be sure)

If you live in NY like me, here is a current copy of the NYS homeschool laws.

save this link, you will need to refer to it often



Once you decide to homeschool ...

Once you've done the hardest part, deciding to homeschool, ๐Ÿ‘ start your homeschool journey by following these 5 simple steps...

1. NOTIFY THE DISTRICT
Once you decide to homeschool you will (depending on your state) need to notify your school district of this decision. ๐Ÿ“ž Start by calling your local school district and asking them how to go about notifying them of your decision to homeschool. They will give you the contact information of whomever is in charge of that department and they can walk you through the process. ๐Ÿ“‘

Most states require at least a Letter of Intent (LOI) and an Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). These are just fancy terms for a letter informing your school district that you are going to homeschool, and a very basic outline of what you plan to teach. ๐Ÿ“ฉ๐Ÿงพ

The LOI comes first, so once you know who your school district contact is, send them your LOI. I recommend googling some templates for this. It truly is very basic, I personally use the motto “less is more” when it comes to any homeschool reporting. 

Below ๐Ÿ‘‡ is the LOI template I personally use each year. Please be aware of how your district would like homeschooling matters communicated. Some require it to be sent via certified mail ๐Ÿ“จ, some regular mail is fine ๐Ÿ“ฌ, and some accept email ๐Ÿ“ง. I would recommend keeping record of all of your interactions with the school district including dates that you send things in.



To Whom It May Concern,

We are sending this notice of intention to instruct at home as required of Section 100.01 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education. [CHANGE THIS ACCORDING TO YOUR STATES REGULATION]

We intend to homeschool our children in the [INSERT SCHOOL YEAR]:

[INSERT CHILDS NAME] for [INSERT GRADE]
[INSERT NEXT CHILDS NAME] for [INSERT GRADE]

Sincerely,
[SIGN YOUR NAME]โ€จ



THAT’S IT! Don’t overcomplicate it! I’ve sent this in the last 4 years and not once have I been asked for further information.

Next, your school district will respond to you (per regulation in NYS they legally have 10 days - this will all be laid out to you in your specific states homeschool instruction policy)

Ours sent us a packet ๐Ÿ“ with information on steps to take next, including an outline for the IHIP ๐Ÿ“‘ and quarterly reports (most states don't require these)

Again, I recommend keeping it SIMPLE, “Less is more”. See what you are legally required to report in the laws and regulations for your state. This is where the HSLDA comes in handy.


2. FIND YOUR HOMESCHOOL STYLE + SELECT CURRICULUM
Please know that one of the best things about homeschooling is the freedom ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to choose what best fits your family, AND to change that whenever you see fit. 

One of the most empowering things to me as a homeschool mom is knowing that I don’t have to homeschool in a certain way.

In fact, I can homeschool one way with one child ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿป and another with the next ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿผ. We can switch styles the following year, or heck, midway through the year if we wanted. If one curriculum ๐Ÿ“™ isn’t a good fit, then on to the next we go ๐Ÿ“—! 

This is another reason that the “less is more” attitude is best for reporting because it leaves you way more wiggle room for switching things up when you need to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some homeschooling moms know right from the get-go what style of homeschool they want to have ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผ‍๐Ÿซ, while others have no clue ๐Ÿคท‍โ™€๏ธ. This homeschool style quiz from www.homeschoolon.com helped me figure out that the homeschool I envisioned ๐Ÿ’ญ, wasn’t actually the style that fit me best โค๏ธ. 

Check it out and let me know in the comments which homeschool mom style you have!๐Ÿ‘‡


I thought ๐Ÿ’ญ I would get Waldorf / Charlotte Mason style when taking it, because those are the styles I was trying to follow, but when I took the quiz, I realized that I was trying to be a homeschool mom that wasn’t fitting my needs

On my quiz I actually got the Traditional Homeschooler
My results were...
32% traditional ๐Ÿซ
20% unschooler ๐Ÿพ
19% classical ๐Ÿ“–

Which, when I am being the most honest with myself is so accurate as to how I homeschool my kids.

>> Be sure to let me know what you got in the comments! ๐Ÿ‘‡

Once you know your homeschooling style, you can begin to research ๐Ÿง various curriculums ๐Ÿ“š that suit your style. There are also lots of free curriculums, units, worksheets and more out there!

TIP: Follow the homeschool mom bloggers out there, so many of them have weekly freebies! I have SO MUCH free homeschool material from bloggers, we never even get to all of it before they age out of the material. Specifically pre-k, kinder, + 1st grade - there is so much out there!

SECOND TIP: create a separate homeschool email ๐Ÿ“ง to hold all of your freebies in! ๐Ÿ˜‰ you're welcome.

โ—๏ธ Also keep in mind that YOUR style may not be how your child learns best, so being open to change and switching things up is important.




3. CONNECT WITH OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS
We always hear that “homeschoolers don’t get enough socialization” ๐Ÿ™„ {please know that I am giving the worlds biggest eye roll while I type this}, when in reality there are LOADS of opportunities as homeschoolers to get your kids involved in the community and socializing with their peers. ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿง’๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿพ

When I first started researching I was AMAZED at how many opportunities there were in my area for homeschoolers. We have been invited to so many that we have to say no a lot because it can get overwhelming. So please don’t worry about your kids not being socialized. ๐Ÿค“ In truth, your kids will likely become more socialized than public school kids. Unlike kids who go to school and see the same 14-20 kids every day, all year long, your kids will likely have many groups of different friends at various activities AND likely kids of differing age ranges. There will be plenty of socialization happening!

Socialization will not be a problem unless you lock yourself and your kids in your home 24/7, which I have yet to meet any homeschool family who does ๐Ÿ˜‚ (although I suppose I never would meet them if they stayed home ๐Ÿคท‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚). Anyway, the point is your kids will be fine!

There are a plethora of Facebook homeschool groups, so I would start there to find local groups. 

Next, I would connect with your local...
  • library
  • gyms
  • dojos
  • YMCA
  • museums
  • etc. 
They many times have programs specific for homeschoolers. 

Next, google “local homeschool co-ops” and you are bound to find a handful. 

Lastly, put your feelers out… find and connect with other local homeschoolers. ๐Ÿค Veteran homeschoolers always know the best groups to get involved with! ๐Ÿฅฐ


4. JUST START
You don’t need an elaborate plan or schedule to homeschool. Just commit to it and start. Grab a book and start reading, or grab a dollar tree workbook and start going through it. ๐Ÿ““

It is easy to become frozen from overwhelm and over complicate things. Like I suggested with the reporting, “less is more”.

Just start simple and take things one day at a time!

Not every day homeschooling is perfect, not every day homeschooling is even pleasurable. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ When it seems like everyone is frustrated, thats always a good time for a break. Give yourself grace for the day and take note of your kiddos limits. โค๏ธ Some kids can tolerate longer lessons and others cannot.

There is no “right” way to learn. The quicker you learn your kids learning styles the easier homeschooling them will be. 

If there is one thing I have learned, it's that trying to force kids to learn something they aren’t interested in, in a manner they don’t learn well in, will never end well for anyone involved! Do yourself a favor, take a break and try again another time and maybe in another way. โœจ

The best part of homeschooling is the freedom! Please remember that homeschool doesn’t have to look like traditional school (unless thats what you and your kids want)

One thing homeschooling has taught me, is that learning truly takes place everywhere! Your kids WILL LEARN no matter how you homeschool. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ“š

Simply create an inviting environment for learning and watch the magic happen. You’ve got this mama!!


5. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE + GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD!
This I suppose goes right along with the previous step. Giving yourself grace in homeschooling is so vital to your success. ๐Ÿ† That includes grace with your own expectations. It’s easy in today’s world of social media and “perfect” instagram feeds to fall into the comparison trap. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ If you have been following homeschooling influencers for any length of time you know exactly what I am talking about.. the perfect homeschool rooms ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผ‍๐Ÿซ, beautifully well-kept homes ๐Ÿก, over abundance of the classiest curriculums ๐Ÿ“š, children with permanent smiles ๐Ÿ˜, etc. That isn’t everyone’s reality. In fact, I would be willing to bet it’s almost no ones reality! So please don't fall prey to the comparison trap and let it defeat you.

You CAN have a magical homeschool even with…
๐Ÿš๏ธ a messy home
๐Ÿ“’ mismatched curriculum
๐Ÿงฆ muddy clothes
๐Ÿ˜ญ toddler melt downs
๐Ÿ›‹๏ธ couch schooling
๐Ÿ˜ซ and moments of tears and frustration.

The magic is in the moments and the freedom, so if you are ever feeling defeated, take a moment to give yourself grace and get out of your head. โค๏ธ

โœจ YOU ARE A GREAT MOM

โœจ YOU ARE THE PERFECT TEACHER FOR YOUR CHILDREN

โœจ YOU CAN DO THIS

โœจ YOU ARE DOING THIS

It’s great to find inspo ๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿป and fresh ideas ๐Ÿ’ก from other homeschoolers, but try not to feel like you need to make your homeschool look just like theirs. Each family has their own homeschool journey and none of them are the “right” one. They are all perfect in their own way!

Homeschooling is truly such a journey of freedom ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ, growth ๐ŸŒฑ, and learning together โค๏ธ.


I hope these โบ steps were helpful to you mama! You've got this!!


BOOK SUGGESTIONS
Being new to homeschooling is just like being new to anything in life. We need to learn and practice to gain more confidence in it. Here are a few books that I would suggest checking out. ๐Ÿ“š I hope you find them as helpful as I have.





This is also a great list of recommended books for homeschool moms from The Homeschool Compass

๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

PS. there are lots of podcasts ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ and YouTube channels ๐ŸŽฅ out there too! If you have one yourself or find a good one that you enjoy, please feel free to share it in the comments! ๐Ÿ‘‡


IN SUMMARY
Homeschooling isn’t always something we dream โœจ our whole lives about, sometimes it’s more of a last minute โณdecision or a new idea ๐Ÿ’ก. No matter what it is for you, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or paralyzing.

Start with these 5 steps to get your homeschool going and then take it day by day!

As I stated earlier, homeschooling is all about freedom ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ, growth ๐ŸŒฑ, and learning together โค๏ธ. Enjoy this special time with your kids. They grow up way too fast!!

I wish you many blessings and many exciting adventures together on your new journey. ๐Ÿ˜Šโœจ May you have the best year yet!





Until next time,



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DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any information provided to you on this site is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. I am not in any way diagnosing, treating, prescribing, or claiming to cure anything. Any and all medical ailments/treatment plans should always be consulted with your physician. This information is my own personal experiences and personal research. You should always do your own research and decide with your physician what is best for you. 

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1 Comment

  1. Maeve McQuilkin-Hull  08/14/2023 11:05 PM Central
    THANK YOU AMANDA! I needed this! I am trying to make the decision whether to home school my babies or not and I really think I want to for the first several grades. But I know NOTHING about it. This is amazing information!!!
    Amanda DeWald AUTHOR  08/15/2023 09:46 AM Central
    Yay, Iโ€™m so glad it was helpful!! Iโ€™m always here if you have more questions Maeve. I know it can feel overwhelming when making the decision to start and then getting in the swing of things.

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