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Getting Started with Homeschooling

Getting Started with Homeschooling

Getting Started with Homeschooling

How to start homeschool guideHomeschooling is not Rocket Science, but as the world discovered this past spring, it is also not sitting around all day eating bonbons. The big question this spring has been, HOW DO I GET STARTED? Well, here is a quick guide to getting started.

First Things First

Check your State Laws and make sure you have everything in order. Need to sign a letter of intent or register your kids? Get it done.

You can find Homeschool Laws by State at HSLDA.

Create Your Action Plan for Schooling

This consists of your Vision, Mission, and Goals. The more detailed you are now the less confusion will ensue later. Like every big project, the more time you devote to planning, the more effective the implementation will be, even when it's not going as planned.

Spending time on “set-up” can save time (money) and irritation down the road.

Getting Started: Creating a Vision, Mission, and Goals

  1. Determine your WHY. What's driving you to Homeschool? Write it all down. Write down your frustrations, hopes, dreams, and expectations. Then distill it all into one simple sentence. Post it somewhere you'll see it, so you don't forget. Habbakuk 2:2 This is your Vision- your BIG picture; the long view vision for educating your kids.
  2. Determine your Mission for the Year. What will you get done? Write this down by child in the following areas: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual.
  3. Determine Your Goals. These should be SMART– Specific, Measureless, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Smart goals are the small, incremental steps necessary to complete the mission.

Create Your Action Plan for Managing Your Home

Successful Homeschooling consists of:

  1. Time Management
  2. Household Management
  3. Homeschooling

Time Management

Set a simple schedule to guide you. Here are some ideas for things to include in your program and ways to organize your week.

  • Weekly Family Meetings – gather together weekly as a family to coordinate schedules, online classes, meals, and extra-curricular. Divvy up driving, pick-ups, and deliveries.
  • Weekly Individual Student Meeting -Set aside weekly meetings with each homeschool student. Go over schedule, responsibilities, due dates, etc.
  • Collective Daily Gathering –You can organize this time as a simple Morning Basket, a family devotional, or memory work. We used our Morning Gathering time as a combination of the above and included Memory Work, Bible Study, and Poetry. We schedule an hour a day and love meeting and learning together!
  • Work on skills in the morning/concepts in the afternoon. This is a great way to organize your day. Take advantage of fresh minds and attitudes for the more complicated skill-based subjects like Latin or Math in the morning and then more concept-based learning like Literature, Bible, and History in the afternoon.

Household Management

Create a simple plan for meals and laundry.

Housework is a job, homeschooling is a job, and if you are working vocationally, you also have that job. Make a simple, do-able plan for getting laundry, food, and kitchen responsibilities taken care of. It will keep everyone sane, sanitary, and satisfied.

Life is seasonal and if you are just starting, plan simply. Start simple and plan to get it done. You can grow into complexity once you've got a system and level of comfort with the new normal of adding homeschooling to your day.

Batching is a simple and effective solution to tasks.

Develop routines for laundry. When we had seven people at home, we would switch laundry from washer to dryer daily and then fold and put it away all on one day. Put away laundry when it's folded. Just do it.

Bulk shop once a month and then mini-bulk shop weekly.

The fewer times you go to the store, the more money you'll save. Shop with a list and batch cook, or at least batch prep. I usually sauté soup veggies en masse and then have soup ingredients ready to add to make a delicious pot of homemade goodness that feeds many and can be easily stretched. Have “fast food” meals, like soup, fajitas, and tacos, prepped and ready to heat and serve on your busy days. Eat the same basic meals. Bagels and eggs for breakfast, left-overs/ salads for lunch, meat, veggies, potato, or rice for dinner.

Choosing Curriculum

Getting started with homeschooling - let them learn about their interests. Homeschool boy holds a butterfly he discovered.Before you even look at a curriculum, determine your mission for each student, what goals you want to accomplish, and what subjects those goals fall into. From there, choose the curriculum.

There are thousands of curriculum choices, and everyone has their favorites. The best curriculum is the one that gets done, so don't feel like you need to chase every shiny object. I choose a curriculum based on solid educational pedagogy, like Cross Seven, that is easy to use but allows for further exploration.

Outsource for the Win

Just because you homeschool doesn't mean you have to do everything. Outsource any classes you don't feel equipped to teach, such as Foreign Languages, plus those you don't have the time and energy to handle or those in your student's area of interest for exploration to maximize opportunities. Homeschooling can look like whatever you want it to look like!

Curriculum Planning

Keep it simple (always!) and start with the core four:

For younger students, focus specifically on number fluency and literacy. Choose simple but effective programs that are non-consumable, like Alpha-Phonics with Explode the Code and Poetry, which is a great way to teach your kids to play with beautiful language and imagery. We also love Right Start Math, which includes Math games. Perfect for adding to your Morning Basket or to use with multiple ages.

For older kids, you should begin to focus on growing in reading fluency and understanding. Choose curricula or online classes that teach simple literature analysis and various forms of writing. If you are considering outsourcing some of these, look at True North Homeschool Academy's courses on Essay Writing, Research Papers, and Exploring Journalism.

Choosing a Science Curriculum

For Science, choose a curriculum or class focusing on discovery and wonder in the early years. Older students can move into more formal studies, starting with a basic and thorough understanding of the Scientific Method and then delving into foundational sciences like Earth and Space, Biology, and Chemistry.

How to Choose a History Curriculum

History is the importance of what happened before and our place in it. Those coming from a Judeo-Christian point of view include the important concept that all people, places, and time lead to the Cross and our part to play in a lost world awaiting heavenly redemption. Students should have a broad sweeping overview of  history, which is why we love studying timelines, along with specific areas, including state, U.S., and World History, Geography, and Economics.

Need Help Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum and Getting Started?

If you have questions or need help choosing age/stage-appropriate resources, we'd love to help! Join us over at True North Homeschool Tribe Facebook group or ask about our academic advising.

Focusing on open-and-go, non-consumable programs, especially content-based curricula, will save you time and money. A Classical Spine, like Cross Seven in the early years, will give your kids a solid foundation for whatever future studies they pursue.

It is wise to spend time and money helping our kids explore their interests. Literature-rich resources and in-real-life experiences like field trips, campaigns, clubs, and camps can be inexpensive ways to teach at home. Add these enriching experiences to your homeschool program as your time and resources allow.

Some curriculum is better than others but the main thing that you want to keep in mind is that if you love it, you’ll use it. If you don’t like or understand the layout or content, you likely won’t! – Lisa Nehring, True North Homeschool Academy Director

Over the years, we have used unit studies, note-booking, textbooks, online courses, clubs, camps, websites, certifications, field trips, books, movies, CD's, co-ops, class days, and more.

Keep It Simple

Learning can take place almost anywhere, at any time. Get started, and remember to keep it simple.

It is so easy to add in resources as you discover areas of interest, skills that need to be honed, and the world that needs exploring. Above all, have fun. Education is the transmission of culture, allowing you this beautiful space and time to impart to your children the things most important to you; the real things. Enjoy the journey, it is time well spent.

Not sure what your focus should be?

Our team of Academic Advisors has years of experience in homeschooling, choosing curriculum, and the ages and stages of child development. We have advisors with experience planning for students with Special Needs and supporting those families. Our advisors are ready to encourage you and help you create an amazing, doable plan.

Need a like-minded tribe to journey with? Our True North TRIBE is a great place to start, and our Getting Started Homeschool Printable Planning packet was created to help you create a plan and write out your goals and vision while keeping your home and students on track. Download it free.

Get started with homeschooling free planner images.

Homeschool – Getting Started Printables

Homeschool – Getting Started Printables

Whether new to homeschooling or experienced, you will get a good start on your homeschool year with our Getting Started Homeschool Printable Packet.

Includes planning sheets that will help you go the distance. These printable planning sheets will guide you as you create long term and short term goals for your home, family, and homeschool.

These are free- we hope that you are blessed by them and if you want to be kept informed about the other things we offer such as memberships, e-books, free printables, webinars, discounts, and homeschooling advice, we hope you will sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Compass.

Celebrate Back to School!

Celebrate Back to School!

Back to School with Confidence!

Hey there, homeschooler! Can you believe it’s about time to prep for the coming school year? Summer is rushing by, as it always does, and back to school sales are starting up again. 

Before you are in the midst of all of the fall activities starting back up, take some time to prepare so that you can get back to school with confidence! 

The best way to start the next school year off fresh is to make sure your starting point is clean and uncluttered!

Declutter from Summer 

  • Get rid of outgrown/ unused clothes and shoes
  • Host a Coat or Clothes Drive for your local shelter.
  • Sort through School Supplies and get rid of outgrown or worn-out items
  • Sort through School Workbooks, Curriculum and Textbook, Compost, throw and donate worn out and outgrown items.

Once you’ve donated and thrown away outdated and worn out items, you are ready to think anew about what’s ahead! It’s going to be a great year! 

Tips for Shopping

Have your kids help with the planning and shopping:

  • Ask them what they want to study and how they want to learn it.
  • Give them a budget, catalogs and see what they come up with.
  • Award a prize to whoever finds the best deal!

If you are curriculum shopping, it might help to check out our Typical Course of Study for High School and Typical Course of Study for Junior High. 

Make plans to get the books you need. Decide whether you will be going to the library regularly or purchasing books.  

Remember that back to school sales are a great time to get supplies for your school year activities, crafts and hobbies.

Low angle of excited small daughter giving high five to mother and screaming while celebrating successful online shopping using laptop at table in light living room

Back to Homeschool Supplies

  • Lap Desks
  • New Water Bottles
  • New Fun Socks or PJ’s
  • Fill a backpack for a student in need or donate a meal to the food pantry together. 
  • Purchase homeschool family t-shirts 
  • OR create tie-dyed homeschool shirts for field trips or bleach dye them.

Don't forget the digital tools your kids will need. Now is a good time to purchase, upgrade or replace them.

  • Password Organization tools
  • A plan for organizing each students online work- papers, passwords, 
  • Internet safety and classes or clubs.
  • Noise Dampening Ear phones -public spot for online classes.
  • Basket to gather phones and other electronics at night so everyone gets a great night sleep 
  • Tablets/ cases/ chargers 
  • Computers/ cases, chargers
  • Extra Charging cords and power banks
  • Earbuds
  • Lap Desks 
  • Bluetooth speakers

Develop Daily Habits

You’ve got the stuff, now consider HOW you are going to manage your days and weeks.

Waking and Sleeping/ Nap routines

What soothing rituals can you incorporate into your daily routine to cue your and your kiddos that it’s time to start or end the day? Here are a few ideas:

  • Peppy or soothing music
  • Smoothie or fruits and greens drink
  • A brisk walk or a family read-aloud.
  • Plan and Create a Morning Meeting or a Morning Basket.

When we had a houseful of kids, starting the day off with the youngest calmed and soothed them. Our Morning Basket was one of the most fun parts of our day and we all loved gathering to study together!

Other Tools and Resources That Make Homeschooling Easier

Do you need to think about adding in any of the following? 

  • Live online classes
  • Self paced classes
  • Local co-ops/ class days
  • Community Service
  • Memory Work Time
  • Read Alouds
  • Bible Study
  • Foreign Language Study
  • Music and Art Study
  • PE
  • Fun and down time? 
  • Homeschool Clubs

Home and Homeschool Planning Tips

Plan for the Inevitable so that you can manage keeping the house clean and people fed and clothed while homeschooling and possibly working as well. 

  • Meal planning, shopping and prepping
  • General pick-up and cleaning plan
  • Laundry plan

Create Learning Stations in your home to build routine and muscle memory. You don’t need vast amounts of space. You can really create a “station” with a simple basket or shelf. 

  • Science “Lab”
  • Art & Music “Studios” with log sheets
  • Book Nook
  • Group together kids' kitchen tools, recipe books and cooking supplies
  • Audio Learning Lab
  • Foreign Language Lab
  • Writing Workshop
  • PE course or equipment/ log sheets
  • Unit Study or Lap book/ Scrap-booking 

Think about Weekly/ Monthly/ Seasonal Routines and Events/ Happenings

What days off or prep time is needed for each, who is budgeting, doing the prep and clean up afterwards?  Remember to add these to your calendar so you can quickly see what is coming up and avoid scheduling conflicts.

  • Field trips
  • Vacations
  • Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Co-ops
  • Church and Bible Study
  • Nature Studies
  • Weekly Meeting with each student to go over planner and assignments from 6th grade on up
  • Weekly Family Planning Meeting 
  • Vacations/ trips for travel

Create First Day or Week of School Events

  1. Host an Open House for your fellow Homeschool Friends or a Themed Book Event
  2. Create a “Day of discovery” for the first day of school:
    1.  Balloons outside their door
    2.  New toiletry items in the bathroom
    3. A new school planner 
    4. Yummy special breakfast items
    5. Awesome morning basket finds etc.
  3. Plan a bonfire and cook S’more’s with friends
  4. Create a paper chain countdown a week before school begins
  5. Create a vision board for the year
    1. Gather magazines
    2. Tape and glue
    3. Spend time creating together
  6. Create a bucket list for this school year
  7. Have your kids write a letter to themselves for the year- include goals, hopes, dreams and then save it to send to them through the mail at the end of the year.
  8. Take a First Day of School Picture
  9. Make a What We Did this Summer timeline 
  10. Create a first day of school video or Instagram reel, to look back on at the end of the year.  (don't forget to tag us! @truenorthhomeschoolacademy )
  11. Give your kids a book they’ve been wanting, complete with “Book Worms” to snack on (gummy worms)
  12. Create a school supplies/ books Scavenger Hunt so they can discover what they’ll be learning throughout the year
    1. Find a new backpack or book bag first so that they can add their supplies to it. 
    2. Have them find fun school supplies like glitter pens, stickers, etc.
    3. Have them find actual school curriculum along the way- like Math book
  13. Make a Schultutue! 
  14. Purchase a new board game to play at the end of the day together
  15. Make a school banner and choose a school motto/ colors./ name
  16. Discover what School is like around the world with this short video.
  17. Learn with a messy and fun science day
  18. Celebrate with a messy art Day
  19. Have a Silly String war at lunchtime
  20. Plan and prep special meals throughout the day or plan a special tea and scones event for the first day of school.
  21. Decorate your homeschool room together
  22. Start a scrapbook, Blog or Instagram account together that you add to and curate
  23. Have a “not back to school” celebration- Hit up a park, zoo or museum when everyone else goes back to school or even go somewhere fun for a couple days/ week-
  24. Start your the year off by camping
  25. Play the “M & M” Game with your kids and let them tell you about themselves!  

Podcasts & Blog Posts That Will Help You Plan

Whether you are a veteran homeschool parent with years under your belt, or new to home education altogether, we hope that you will find some ideas here that inspire your “back to homeschool” celebration!

5 Quick Tips for Homeschool Balance

5 Quick Tips for Homeschool Balance

Homeschooling asks a lot of us as parents. Especially when it comes to time management. Having a flow or rhythm to your homeschool day can go a long way to giving you peace and confidence. And what homeschooling parent couldn’t use that? Let’s start at the...
Build Your Own Mega Bundle – 10 Classes

Build Your Own Mega Bundle – 10 Classes

Home / Search results for “5 common topics ” Build Your Own Mega Bundle – 10 Classes $5,117.00 Build your own 10-class Mega Bundle! This ten Course Bundle allows you can choose any ten of our live, interactive online classes. Mix and match grade...
5 Homeschool Mom Success Hacks

5 Homeschool Mom Success Hacks

Every homeschool mom wants success as a homeschool mom. Wouldn't it be great if there were homeschool mom success hacks? Seriously.

  • You’ve combed the internet looking for the best deals.
  • You’ve spent hours visiting your favorite homeschool groups, social media pages, and blogs.
  • You have what is starting to look like a plan.
  • You've told yourself that you are ready to get started.

I have a question for you, Mom. What about YOU?

Easy Homeschool Mom Success Hacks You Can Actually Do

We get so wrapped up in preparing for our kids to have a successful school year, that we don't stop and make a plan for ourselves.  That’s what I want to do in this article today. I want to talk about some sanity savers that will help YOU prepare YOURSELF for back to school!

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #1: The 4 20s

When attending a workshop held by Oginga Carr, a business coach in my network, I heard about the 4 20s. These are four things that you do every morning before picking up your phone or doing anything for anyone else. Here they are:

  • 20 ounces of water—Most water bottles are 16.9 ounces, but you can still find some 20-ounce bottled water, guestimate with your own water bottle, or find a 20-ounce water bottle.
  • 20 ounces of reading from a physical book—GASP! Who does THAT anymore? The truth is that we are less likely to be distracted when we read from a physical book because it has no notifications popping up!
  • 20 ounces of body activation—Yes, exercise is what I mean. This is one that I have to get better with myself. Sigh!
  • 20 minutes of planning—What do you want to get done today? What is it going to take to get it done? Do you have it? If not, what can you use instead? Get things together before your family converges on you!

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #2: Chore and Responsibility Chart

Everybody in the house needs to help—and you need to LET THEM HELP! Let go of the perfectionist mentality and give your children chores. Take advantage of teachable moments because it is all stuff they need to know by the time they leave home anyway!

Consider using a loop schedule to keep down arguments about turns. Here’s what a loop schedule looks like:

Sunday Monday
Trash Dad Mom
Kitchen Mom Kid 1
Laundry Kid 1 Kid 2
Living Room Kid 2 Kid 3
Den Kid 3  Dad

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #3: Define Your Working Hours

If you work at home or run a business out of your home, establish definite working hours and get your family on board. Let them know that if no one is bleeding, on fire, or has severed a limb, then you are not to be disturbed. Have things prepared for them to do during that time and teach time how to help each other! Call in reinforcements if you need to, especially if you have little ones.

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #4: Meal Planning and Prep

Having a meal plan can make dinner time simple and shut-down time less chaotic. Start with family favorites and then develop a rotation based on what you know your family will eat without question! For freezer meals, you can use sectioned containers from Amazon. The ones we have are dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven safe!

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #5: Commit to Mom Days

Contrary to popular opinion, you need to have a day and time to yourself to do the things that you enjoy. Doing so does not mean that you don’t love your family. The best thing you can give your family is a complete and whole YOU! So, even if it’s just going for a quick walk, a movie, and a snack in your room, or reading a book while they are doing their work. Make a way to do something for YOU!

Back to school isn’t just about them. You need to do things for yourself, too!

Original article by: Tammie Polk is a married homeschooling mother of three girls who has penned and published over 20 books on life, faith, family business, and fiction — all while working as a substitute teacher and virtual assistant, running two businesses, traveling to speak at various events, hosting an international radio show, and hosting her own events! When she’s not running the world, she enjoys gaming, crossword puzzles, and making board games.

Edits, graphics, and updates by Gina Noble.

3 Way to Be a Working Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling takes work. If you're wondering if you could possibly work and homeschool, yes- you can be a working homeschool mom!

Know Your Working Homeschool Mom Limits

Limits are a good thing. They work as boundaries to keep you from overwhelm. To understand your limits and set your boundaries, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I practicing good self-care?
  • Do I choose foods that nourish my body?
  • Would meal-prepping work for me or add extra stress?
  • Do I have any “tells” that help me know when I'm approaching overwhelm?
  • Am I losing my temper with my friends, family, or work associates?
  • Do I need a certain amount of time in the morning to myself before I'm on for the day?
  • Do I need a regular bedtime to support what I need to do each day?
  • Am I allowing for enough off-time or playtime?
  • Can I set boundaries for myself that I can provide to others and easily enforce?
  • What are my employer's expectations?

Allowing yourself the grace to say “yes” when you mean yes, and “no” when you mean no will provide you with a filter for creating limits.

Set Your Work Goals

With work comes expectations. What does your employer expect from you? If you work from home, what do your clients expect of you? What do you expect of yourself? What are your goals?

Adding to your own limits, note the following:

  • What are my work hours?
  • Do I have any nights or evenings I'm expected to work?
  • Can I leave my work at work or will I be expected to work from home?
  • Do I have help with my kids while I'm at work?
  • Does the person who helps understand my homeschool plan?

Make Your Homeschool Plan

If you're not sure where to start, I just want to say from the get-go, do not overwhelm yourself with this. Keep it simple.

If you can come up with 5 key things per student you'd like to cover for the year, you've got a solid big picture. You can add to the big picture in a way that doesn't overwhelm you or your helper if you have one.

Things to consider:

  • Where are we starting? How did we end the school year last year?
  • What are the ages and grade levels of my students?
  • What are the courses I would be comfortable teaching or delegated?
  • Would I benefit from online, interactive homeschooling classes?
  • What is my worldview? How does that weight my homeschooling choices?
  • How many children am I homeschooling?
  • Do we have to have traditional homeschool hours or do we have some flexibility with that?
  • Do I have a homeschool method I'm committed to?

Just Get Started Homeschooling

The hardest thing to do is to just get started. Pick one subject, one goal, and just go for it.

We can help.

Need a like-minded tribe to journey with? Our Parent Equipping Membership is a great place to start and our Getting Started Homeschool Printable Planning packet was created to help you create a plan, write out your goals, and your vision while keeping your home and students on track. Download it free.

Or Grab the Working Homeschool Mom Bundle FREE

This special Working Homeschool Mom Bundle will get you going.

Working Homeschool Mom Bundle

Log Sheets

Log Sheets

Log Sheets

Log Sheets will allow you to easily track student hours for:

  • Physical Education
  • Music
  • Community Service
  • Work

Log Sheets will help you effectively build you student's Transcript and give an accurate record of where your high school student has spent their time! Keep in mind the following, based on the Carnegie Unit.

  • 2 Credits – 240 hours of work
  • 1 Credit – 120 hours of work
  • 1/2 Credit – 60 hours of wok
  • 1/4 Credit – 30 hours of wok

We offer many live online, dynamic, interactive classes and clubs to fulfill P.E., At and Music credits. Choose a bundle for greater savings!

Check out our other Free Printables, created to help you more effectively and joyfully homeschool!