Getting Started: A step-by-step guide to Homeschooling

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Where Do I Begin?

Deciding and preparing to homeschool can be an overwhelming process, but these steps will help you.

1. Learn and Pray
2. Get a copy of your state’s homeschool laws
3. Join a local support group and your state’s Christian homeschool Association
4. Determine You Philosophy and Approach
5. Decide on curriculum and resources
6. Plan
7. Subscribe to magazines and newsletters

Step 1: Learn and Pray

First you need to decide if home education is the right choice for you and your family and it is never too early to start this step. The decision to homeschool should be prayed about and decided upon as a family under the guidance of God. The support of all members in your household is critical to the success of your homeschool. Dads need to take an active roll, work schedules must be accommodated, and individual learning styles of your children must be considered.

Next, talk to experienced homeschoolers; attend classes; visit a homeschool convention and book fair. Join in the conversations at an online homeschooling forum like the one at here at

Reading is always a good way to learn about homeschooling. As you read, your philosophy of education will develop. You and your family will benefit from your investment of time spent reading good books on the subject of homeschooling. This list will give you a good starting point and many of them can be found at your local library:

For the Children’s Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

  • Home Schooling for Excellence, David and Micki Colfax
  • Homeschooling the Early Years, Linda Dobson
  • Homeschooling the Middle Years, Shari Henry
  • Learning All the Time and Teach Your Own, John Holt
  • The Three R’s Series and You Can Teach Your Child Successfully, Ruth Beechick
  • The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, Debra Bell
  • The Whole Hearted Child, Clay and Sally Clarkson
  • Better Late Than Early, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook (formerly titled Home School Burnout), Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Step 2: Get a copy of your state’s homeschool laws

Don’t be misinformed about your State’s law on homeschooling and don’t trust your state department of education to give you accurate information over the phone. All states are not homeschool friendly.

Don’t rely on other homeschoolers to tell you everything you need to know about homeschooling in your state.

Each State’s law is different. To obtain a copy of your State’s homeschooling law from The Home School Legal Defense Association’s Web site and click on State Laws or write them at HSLDA, P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134, 540/338-5600 and request a copy.

Once you have a copy of your state’s homeschooling law, you can determine what forms you might need to be filed and the required filing dates. If you are removing your children from public school, be sure that you have met all the states requirements before removing your children school or you could be in violation of truancy or compulsary education laws.

Step 3: Join a local support group and your state’s Christian homeschool Association

Contact and join your local support group. A local support group is an invaluable asset for resources, encouragement, and opportunities. Be involved with a state organization that is committed to supporting homeschoolers, promoting home education, and protecting the right to homeschool. A list of Christian home school organizations in most states can be found on the resource page.

Step 4: Determine Your Approach

Your educational philosophy will play a big part in your choice of curriculum and in how your homeschool day is actually structured. A wide variety of resources are available. The closer your choices fit your family’s philosophy and style, the more successful you will be.

Most families piece together their own curriculum by picking and choosing the best for their family from different publishers.

Homeschooling Approaches

Below are four common homeschooling approaches.

1 Scope & Sequence

Scope and sequence is how most of us were educated. It is a very structured way of approaching education that uses a set of facts and skills (scope) that a child is expected to master at set intervals (sequence) in the education process. Parents can use a combination of text books, workbooks and hands on manipulatives to teach each set of facts and skills in the proper sequence or grade level and testing is used to evaluate the success of the student.

Traditional and Conventional Text Books: Uses graded textbooks for each subject; most commonly used approach in institutional schools. Some companies Like Christian Liberty press offer correspondence courses where tests are graded and records are maintained, and diplomas are issued by the correspondence school. This approach can be very expensive, but many parents feel more comfortable with this approach because it takes the guesswork out of what to teach when. Parents can save money and reap the benefits of more personal freedom by using a prepackaged or textbook curriculum and handling the grading and record-keeping themselves.

Early Academics: Stresses reading, writing, and arithmetic skills at an early age; uses workbooks, visual aids, and manipulatives.

Workbooks or Programmed Learning: Workbooks are consumable books with questions or projects included and condensed instructions. Programmed learning is step-by-step sequence of small units of facts that provide immediate feedback.

2. Thematic or Unit Study Approach:

All subjects center around a common theme and different ages can be involved with the same theme.
This method requires a lot of time on your part planning activities and organizing materials to ensure that you cover all the basic disciples in your theme, but it can be very rewarding and children often find this aproach more enjoyable than traditional textbook studies.

3. The Habitual Method (Charlotte Mason) of teaching

The Charlotte Mason approach is based on the regular core subjects such as the three R’s, and in addition incorporates the fine arts.

Children deal directly with the best books, music, and art. Children are exposed to the best sources of knowledge, living books not text books. Narration is a fundemental concept in the Charlotte Mason approach. Children learn to narrate the material back placing the emphasis on what they know rather than what they do not, as well as developing attention, concentration and understanding. This training in essay-style examinations prepares children for adulthood and college.

Other aspects of a Charlotte Mason education include the formation of the good habits of self-discipline , concentration, truthfulness, self-control, cooperation and unselfishness. Mason advocates the avoidance of “twaddle,” what we might call “dumbed-down” literature, and replaces it with classic literature and noble poetry.

4. Classical Education

The core of Classical Education is the trivium. The trivium is a Bible based model of the three stages of learning or cognitive developement: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. The classical teaching model seeks to tailor the curriculum subject matter to a child’s cognitive development. The trivium emphasizes concrete thinking and memorization of the facts of the subjects in grade school; analytical thinking and understanding of the subjects in middle school; and abstract thinking and articulation of the subjects in high school. Subjects unique to Classical Education which help accomplish the goals of the trivium are Grammar, the science of language usage; Logic, the science of right thinking; and Rhetoric, the science of verbal and written expression. Classical Christian Education is further characterized by a rich exposure to the history, art, and culture of Western Civilization, including its languages (Latin and Greek), its philosophy and literature (the Great Books of Western Civilization and the Christian tradition), and the development of a Biblical worldview with Theology in its proper place as the Queen of the Sciences.

For in depth information, resources, and curriculum on classical Christian homeschooling visit

Step 5: Decide on curriculum and resources

Curriculum can be purchased at great savings by shopping online or through catalogs. Most states have annual homeschool conventions where you can browse vendors and get a hands on look at the products they carry. This list of the most popular homeschool curriculum vendors will get you started.

A Beka (800-874-BEKA)
• Curriculum approaches : Scope & Sequence
• Christian, patriotic, and conservative
• Developed for classroom use. If done as recommended it would be a whole day’s school work.
• Must be adapted to home situation; books may be good reference material

Advanced Training Institute (630-323-2842)
• Curriculum approach: Thematic or Unit Study
• Unique Bible-centered family program emphasizing life training and character development
• Requires attendance at three week-long seminars and adoption of certain spiritual convictions
• Commitment to regular reporting to the Institute
• Multi-age level use

Alpha Omega/Bridgestone Academy (800-622-3070)
You can support helpforhomeschoolers,com by purchasing Alpha Omega curriculum at a great online price through us. Just click on the curriculum link on your left.
• Curriculum approaches: Scope & Sequence
• Bible-centered
• CD-ROM and correspondence versions available
• An interactive, teacher-presented math is an option in K-6
• Diagnostic tests for appropriate placement in each subject

Bob Jones (800-845-5731)
You can purchase Bob Jones curriculum through us too! Just use the curriculum link on the left and then use the “search” button to find Bob Jones materials.
• Curriculum approaches : Scope & Sequence
• The description is the same as A Beka

Christian Liberty Academy (847-259-4444)
You can find the link to Christian Liberty on our resources page!
• Curriculum approach: Scope & Sequence
• Christian, patriotic and conservative
• Texts chosen according to student’s achievement level

Clonlara (734-769-4515)
• Curriculum approach up to the parent
• Provides record keeping and counseling
• Supportive of less structured homeschooling
• Provides recommendations of educational resources
• Offers some computerized high school courses

Konos (336-887-2045)
• Curriculum approach: Thematic or Unit Study
• Based on character traits such as obedience
• Comes from a Christian perspective
• Provides activity suggestions, book lists, vocabulary words, pertinent historical character examples, and optional character timeline
• Multi-age level use
• Offers a new high school program covering world history, English and art, written to the student
• Emphasis is discovery learning

School of Tomorrow (800-925-7777)
• Curriculum approaches: Scope & Sequence
• Materials designed for students to work independently
• Students are placed at the appropriate starting point in each subject
• Biblical perspectives are incorporated throughout the material

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. (303-730-6292)
• Literature based, emphasis on world history and cultures and international Christian missions
• Provides materials in all subjects and coordinates them for a school year
• Early academics offered but more relaxed than Bob Jones, A Beka, Alpha Omega, etc.
• Provided in grade levels but can be adapted for multiple children close in age

How to Create Your Own Unit Study and the Unit Study Idea Book, Valerie Bendt
God’s World Publications (800-951-5437)

Elijah Company (888-2-Elijah)
God’s World Book Club (800-951-BOOK)
Home Training Tools (800-860-6272), science equipment and materials
Lifetime Books (800-377-0390)

Step 6 : Plan

Now that you have determined what resources you will be using you will need to develop short and long-term goals, and establish a tentative calendar and schedule. Do you want to school all year or just during the public school season? Do you want to cover each subject daily or would you like to do science on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays and History on Tuesday and Thursday? Will you work half a day or all day? Do you want to get together with other homeschoolers for art on Fridays? These are all questions you will need to think and bout and the decisions you make will be largely determined by your families needs, size, schedule, the ages of your children and their study habits and styles, and the curriculum you choose to use. But one of the greatest joys of homeschooling is the choice is yours and the freedom to run your own schedule is one of the benefits you will enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to make changes. As you go along you will learn your child’s learning style, and you can make adjustments as you go. If you feel one teaching approach or style isn’t working, then try another. There is no such thing as a cookie cutter homeschool and thanks be to God for that!

Step 7: Subscribe to Magazines and Newsletters

For continuing education and encouragement, you may want to subscribe to homeschool magazines or newsletters. Below are some suggestions.

Growing Without Schooling
Holt Associates
2269 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Homeschooling Today
PO Box 1425
Melrose, FL 32666-9988

Home Education Magazine
PO Box 1083
Tonasket, WA 98855

The Moore Report
Box 1
Camas, WA 98607

Practical Homeschooling

The Teaching Home
PO Box 20219
Portland, OR 97220

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