New to homeschooling and don’t know where to start? First things first — congratulations! We’re thrilled that you’re beginning the homeschooling journey. And second, you’ve come to the right place. In this Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling for Beginners, we’ll explain to interested parents how to get started on the homeschooling journey.
Homeschooling for Beginners: Where to Start?
This post does not contain many answers to questions about homeschooling, nor is it another “homeschooling tips and tricks” or “homeschooling advice” article.
Instead, we want to equip you with the basics and the right questions so you can research homeschooling on your own to draw conclusions about what educational approach to take, what homeschool curriculum to use, and whether to homeschool in community. In other words, this post serves as the homeschooling beginner’s map. But ultimately, it’s up to you to choose your destination.
With that said, here’s everything you need to know about homeschooling to get started on your journey (following the three classical skills of learning we emphasize in our Classical Conversations programs — grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric).
1. Begin With the Basics: Learn the Grammar
At Classical Conversations, our Foundations program focuses on having students practice the classical art of grammar. This is just a fancy way to say that this program emphasizes repetition of the foundational knowledge of subjects students will study in more detail later down the line. In other words, we begin with the basics.
As classical educators, we believe the same tools can be applied to learn any new subject. So, in this case, we can use the skill of grammar to the topic of this blog post — learning how to homeschool. So, what is the “grammar” of homeschooling, or the homeschool basics?
First off, what is homeschooling? People have many different definitions and interpretations of homeschooling, from online schooling to home-centered education where students attend a homeschool co-op or group several days a week.
Defining homeschooling for your family is a great place to begin, as it will give you a vision for what your home school might look like whenever you start.
As far as helpful resources for learning what all homeschooling entails, you can read blogs such as those at Homeschool.com, The Homeschool Mom, HSLDA, and the Classical Conversations blog on our website.
There are also many great books about homeschooling. For example, Echo in Celebration by Classical Conversations founder Leigh Bortins is a digestible look into “home-centered education,” an approach to homeschooling where a family primarily learns at home but is also a part of a local community of other homeschool families where they can learn together and do life together. Of course, this community-based approach to homeschooling is what we at Classical Conversations recommend to homeschooling families. Echo in Celebration is also available as a free digital download from our bookstore website.
Research the Different Approaches to Homeschooling
If you’re new to homeschooling and wondering where to start, you might not even know that there are different approaches to home education.
Traditional, Montessori, unschooling, eclectic, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, and classical are some of the more common approaches to homeschooling. While there is some overlap among many of these, it’s an excellent decision to do your research on each before choosing a homeschool curriculum or program. This is because many homeschool programs follow a specific approach to homeschooling.
For example, as our name suggests, Classical Conversations is rooted in the classical model of education paired with a Christ-centered worldview. This means that our programs emphasize the three skills of the classical Trivium — grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric — by showing how each subject relates to God and our place in His Creation.
Know Your State Regulations for Homeschooling
Did you know that homeschool regulations vary by state? Some states have more homeschool requirements, while others allow more freedom to homeschooling families.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find out your state’s homeschool requirements. HSLDA, for instance, offers this helpful interactive map of the United States. Just click on your state to view the homeschool requirements your family will need to follow.
Review Your Homeschool Curriculum Options
With the increasing popularity of homeschooling, there is no shortage of homeschool curriculum providers.
This overwhelming choice can paralyze many homeschooling beginners, so we recommend holding off on deciding what homeschool curriculum to use at this stage. Right now, you’re still learning the basics. So, just familiarize yourself with the different options available. The internet is your best friend during this step.
To learn about our own Classical Conversations curriculum we use in our programs, click here to connect with a team leader who will gladly answer any of your questions.
2. Ask Your Questions: Practice Dialectic
Speaking of asking questions, the second step for beginner homeschoolers is just to ask questions. In the classical model, we call this the art of dialectic, which means to understand something by asking questions about it.
After doing some research on the basics of homeschooling, such as the different approaches to homeschooling and your state’s homeschool regulations, there’s a good chance you’ll have even more questions about homeschooling than when you started.
Rather than letting these questions overwhelm you, find a safe place where you can ask them freely and receive genuine, helpful answers that propel you forward in your homeschooling journey.
Ask a Homeschool Parent
Parents often get started homeschooling because they were encouraged by another family who homeschooled.
If this is your case and you already know a homeschooling family, ask them your questions about homeschooling. They are a great resource of information and will significantly help you begin your own homeschooling journey well.
Ask them questions like, “How did you get started homeschooling?” “What homeschool curriculum do you use?” “How do you balance homeschooling multiple children at different ages?”
Of course, relying on the wisdom and advice of more experienced homeschool parents isn’t just helpful when you’re a homeschooling beginner. Instead, it’s critical whether you’re trying to choose a kindergarten homeschool curriculum or wondering how to homeschool through high school.
This is just one of the many reasons why Classical Conversations members enjoy homeschooling in community alongside other families — so they can continue to receive and give support wherever they are in the homeschooling journey.
Attend a Homeschool Convention
A second way to ask your burning homeschooling questions is at a homeschool convention.
Not familiar with these events? A homeschool convention is an exhibition where companies and organizations showcase their homeschool curricula, programs, and other resources for parents. At larger homeschool conventions, like those from Teach Them Diligently and the Great Homeschool Convention held throughout the summer at various locations in the United States, homeschool leaders will speak about important and timely topics in the homeschooling movement.
So, attending a homeschool convention is the perfect opportunity to ask your questions and hear various perspectives. Whether chatting with an exhibitor about their homeschool curriculum, with another visiting homeschool parent about how she manages her time, or with a speaker about the future of home education, there is so much to glean from visiting a homeschool convention.
Attend a Homeschool Program Outreach Event
Alternatively, you could attend an outreach event hosted by a homeschool program in your area. For example, local Classical Conversations communities hold several outreach events, including Information Meetings, Open Houses, and parent-conferences called Practicums.
Outreach events like these are perfect for asking your questions about homeschooling in a safe place among other parents both experienced and new to homeschooling. If you’re interested in attending a Classical Conversations event in your area, click here.
3. Make Informed Choices: Apply Rhetoric
After asking your questions about homeschooling, you’re ready to make the choices all homeschooling beginners have to make.
Since we are following the classical model in this blog post, this is the step where you are ready to apply the art of rhetoric, a skill we focus on in our middle and high school level Challenge programs. In essence, rhetoric is all about pursuing truth and making wise, informed choices.
So, once you learn the basics of homeschooling and receive answers to your questions, you can make choices based on the knowledge you’ve gathered. These are decisions like what homeschooling approach to pursue, what homeschool curriculum to use, whether to learn in a homeschool co-op or community, and so on.
Homeschooling for Beginners: Your Journey Begins!
Homeschooling for beginners can seem daunting. There’s so much to learn and many decisions to make before starting. If you’re new to homeschooling, we hope the steps above point you in a good direction to get started on this new journey with your family!
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.