Homeschooling 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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back to Homeschool Supplies
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
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
Memory Work Time
Foreign Language Study
Music and Art Study
Fun and down time?
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
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.
Art & Music “Studios” with log sheets
Group together kids’ kitchen tools, recipe books and cooking supplies
Audio Learning Lab
Foreign Language Lab
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.
Church and Bible Study
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
Host an Open House for your fellow Homeschool Friends or a Themed Book Event
Create a “Day of discovery” for the first day of school:
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!
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...
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:
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.