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How to Start Homeschooling When Transitioning from a Public or Private School

Updated on December 14, 2015
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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

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Welcome to the exciting world of homeschooling! I totally remember how overwhelming it is when you first start homeschooling. I've been homeschooling for 4 years, so the fear, anxiety, excitement, dread, etc. of starting homeschooling is still fresh in my mind. Many families have asked for my advice on how to start homeschooling. This is what I tell them.

My Advice for Your First Year of Homeschooling

(Elementary Grades Only)

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What Curriculum Should You Choose?

Usually the first question people ask is, "What curriculum should I use?" If someone doesn't already know what curriculum they would like to use, I recommend beginning with A Beka ( A Beka is really easy to implement and covers all the bases. Find out when they have a "curriculum fair" in your area and then buy the books there. You'll save a bundle in shipping costs. (They'll have the books there for you to look through. You only order them there. They'll ship the books to you. If you order your books at the curriculum fair as opposed to on their website, you don't have to pay the shipping fees.) Only buy the language arts, spelling, handwriting, and math workbooks and the readers. You won't need any of the other books, teacher manuals (except maybe the Teacher Key for Arithmetic for grades 3+ to save some time), tests, or curriculum guides.

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What About Science?

For science, simply go outside with a guide book and look up insects, plants, spiders, trees, etc. Plant and grow something from a seed. Maybe make a chart of the weather each day and/or watch the clouds and predict what type of weather each will bring. Make it easy, relevant, and fun.

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What About All the Other Subjects?

History? Health? P.E.? Foreign Language? Geography? Music? Art? This list goes on. If you're starting homeschooling in the middle of the school year, you can hold off on these subjects. Just take the time to get through the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) as you learn how your child prefers to learn and how you prefer to teach. If you're starting at the beginning of the school year you can include any of these subjects if you really want to, but it really won't hurt to hold off on these subjects for a year. There are SO many options for teaching many of these subjects (especially history). As I'll mention in the next section, one of the best resources for finding curriculums that meet the needs of your family is other homeschooling families. You'll probably meet many more homeschooling families AFTER you begin homeschooling.

Which subject are you most concerned about or scared of teaching?

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What About Other Curriculums?

Do I think you should use A Beka for the rest of your homeschooling career? Maybe but not necessarily. It's just a good curriculum to use to get your feet wet. As you work with your child, you'll begin to pick up on his learning style (Is he/she wiggly and likes to build things? Does he/she love books? Does he/she love to listen to books on CD?) During your first year of homeschooling, start meeting other homeschooling families. Join a homeschool support group or at least meet for "playdates" with homeschooling families. You WILL need the support! You'll also eventually meet someone who has a child who is similar to your child. You may see a family and think, "I would LOVE for my family to be just like that family." Ask those families what they use. Ask if they can bring their homeschool curriculum to the park and let you flip through them while your kids play on the playground together. If you see something you love, you can buy it.

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Where Should You Buy Your Other Books for Homeschooling?

My favorite place to buy homeschool books is It's free to use. You deal directly with the homeschool parent who is selling the books. It is extremely well-organized and easy to use. You can also create a "wanted to buy" list of the books you'd like, and people will actually contact you if they have those books for sale!

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Learn the Homeschooling Laws of Your State

Before you begin homeschooling, find out what your state requires you to do when you homeschool. HSLDA provides a great synopsis of your state's laws. Go to, click on your state, & click on "A Legal Analysis" to get the easy-to-read summary. You may need to submit a letter of intent to your school board before the school year begins. You might need to keep a list of some of the books your child reads that year. You might need to get an evaluation done. (Use a homeschool mom who is also a certified teacher to do this. Don't use a public school teacher.) You might have to keep a portfolio of work from the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. States vary in what they require. That's why it's good to know ahead of time what you need to do!

What does my homeschooling day look like?

Taming Toddler Tornadoes Web Page: Activities to Entertain and Train Toddlers
Taming Toddler Tornadoes Web Page: Activities to Entertain and Train Toddlers
  • How I Homeschool with Seven Children - Have you wondered what homeschooling looks like when you are teaching multiple ages? I have been asked a number of times what our homeschool day looks like, so we finally created videos showing what a typical day looks like for us this year. I have seven children, ages 13 and under. I not only try to show our daily routine, but I also focus heavily on what I do with all my little ones since I currently have 3 children who are ages 3 and under.
  • How to Homeschool Multiple Ages (My Daily Homeschool Schedule) - Are you homeschooling or considering homeschooling more than one child? Below you will find our daily homeschool schedule for 3 different stages: when I only had preschoolers (ages 4 and under), when I only had 1 child who could work independently and 4 who couldn't, and our current homeschool schedule that includes every age but high school. I have also included a few more tips for general home management.
  • Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten - Are you considering homeschooling but don't know where to start? Do you have a preschooler who is eager to learn but you have no idea what to teach or how? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the options? I have laid out what I do to homeschool my children when they are ages 3-5 and have also included my favorite resources for preschool and kindergarten learning.
  • Homeschool Kindergarten Essentials - Are you considering homeschooling your kindergarten age child or are you already homeschooling and are looking for ideas? I have graduated 3 of my children from "Kindergarten Homeschool" and am currently homeschooling kindergarten with my 4th child. Below you will find my practical tips for your first year of homeschooling kindergarten.
  • Taming Toddler Tornadoes: What to Do with Toddlers and Babies While Homeschooling Older Children - Are you homeschooling older children and you have a baby and/or toddler at home as well? I currently have three school age children along with a preschooler, toddler, and baby. A question I get a lot from homeschooling families is, "What in the world do you do with your toddler and/or baby?" Read below to find out what I do to keep my babies and toddlers busy and happy while still covering algebra, sentence diagramming, dissections, and more with the older set.
  • My Homeschool Math Curriculum, Games, and Books - Take a peek into our homeschool room! Many days my children B-E-G to do math! Why?!? We combine workbooks with lots of fun math games, toys, and picture books! I have searched through countless curriculums & activities to find the best fit for my children, and I want to share with you what I've found that we think is fabulous! I currently homeschool 4 children (18 mo - 4th grade).
  • My Homeschool Curriculum for Elementary Grades - Take a peek at my homeschool bookshelf. Actually, all the books are piled across my dining room table right now, but you can peek there too! Ahh, the daunting task of picking out the BEST homeschool curriculum! There are so many great options from which to choose! I have searched through numerous curriculums to find what works best for my family. I am frequently asked what curriculums we use for homeschooling, so I created this page listing what we use. Below you can find the homeschool curriculums that I selected for my family for all subjects for all elementary level grades. I'm not saying our choices are the best choices for your family, but this is what is working for us right now. At the bottom I have also included what our general daily schedule looks like. I wrote this when I was homeschooling 5 children (baby - 4th grade).

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Still Have More Questions?

There are LOTS of websites out there with plenty of information to get you started. One website that offers advice from veteran homeschooling families is .

Do You Homeschool?

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© 2012 Shannon


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