Homeschooling is a challenge—that’s something that no homeschooling parent can dispute. No one ever claimed it would be easy, just that it would be worthwhile; and getting started often feels like the biggest challenge of all. Once you’re settled into a routine, you think, you’ll be able to handle it; but how on earth do you get started?
Set a specific start date.
This might be at the beginning of the school year, the beginning of the calendar year (and therefore the beginning of a semester), or it might be at some other random point throughout the year. Much of this will depend on your reason for starting homeschooling to begin with: if your child is having a problem in school that makes it necessary to bring them home, it might be better to get started sooner rather than later.
Choose a date on the calendar and mark it. Then you have a definite date by which things need to be done. You know what’s coming that way, and you’re not constantly putting it off—or trying to cram too much into too short a period of time.
Next, choose a curriculum.
Many parents find that virtual schooling for a period of time is a gateway to more traditional homeschooling. Others prefer to do it themselves from the beginning, but need a full curriculum to get them started. There are plenty of options out there that come complete with stacks of materials. Many areas also have homeschooling supply swaps at the beginning of each school year where you can acquire the necessary curriculum at a budget.
You can also choose to build your own curriculum from scratch—but that’s a challenge best reserved for someone who isn’t trying to jump in with both feet. If you have some experience and feel up to it, though, by all means, go right ahead! Just remember that your child needs to adhere to state standards so that if they do go back to a traditional school eventually, they won’t be behind.
Develop a plan.
The best curriculum in the world is worthless if you don’t have a plan for how to complete it. Look over what you will need to accomplish, and break it down into manageable chunks. What do you want to have done by the middle of the year? What does that mean that you have to have done each month? Each week?
Once you have a reasonable idea of what needs to be done for each chunk of time, plan out at least your first couple of weeks. How many lessons does your child need to complete each week? What does that mean that they need to get done each day? Plan it out on paper. Remember, this is semi-flexible. The great thing about homeschooling is that if you need to, you can completely change up your plan whenever you need to—but you do need to stick to some kind of schedule as much as possible.
Put together a daily schedule.
You know what you need to get done. Now, develop a daily schedule. Decide when you want to do your homeschooling work. Do you prefer to get it done in the morning, when everything is fresh and new, and then have the rest of the day to do what you want to do? Does your child learn better in the afternoon? Or do you have a schedule that is best suited to evening homeschooling? Have a start and end time that is similar most days, most of the time. This will help both you and your child to know what to expect and when to expect it.
The only thing that is going to tell you what it’s like to homeschool is homeschooling. Nothing else will prepare you for it. The responsibility is very different. The accountability is necessary. But it’s one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, and so therefore well worth it.