Get ready for a lot of fun, and deep, lasting satisfaction! You’ll love being able to follow each child’s needs and interests, instead of putting every child in one box. Enjoy yourselves and learn to love learning.
Home schooling is not the same as public schooling. Get comfortable. Don’t plan on sitting at desks all day. Be willing to go with the flow of family life. Set some priorities and then be willing to work around illnesses, births and other family events, because family comes first.
Don’t buy everything you see, just because it looks interesting. (I am speaking from experience here.) The library works well to start out. There is a lot online that is free. But mostly just enjoy being home and spending time together.
If you are transitioning from public school, allow time for everyone to get used to being home. Find the joy of being together. Then work on academics.
When you are ready to begin, begin with the basics: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic–and History. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with materials; keep things as simple as possible. Allow your children to follow their interests. Feed the flame.
For five-year-olds I would suggest: reading stories; going on field trips (join a home schooling group to access ideas and opportunities); listening to good, varied music (classical, “Rory’s Little Broadway,” jazz, ragtime, Hap Palmer, etc); basic art supplies (crayons, paper, finger paints, playdough, Sculpey, watercolors and brushes); phonogram cards, McGuffey Readers and short, consistent lessons in beginning math. (Sources for materials listed below.)
Watch Kristen’s presentation at the 2013 Agency Based Education Conference: “I’d like to homeschool, but where the heck do I start?”
For specific tips on home schooling teens, please see Mentoring Teens.
I have listed below some ideas to check out for all grade-levels. I have arranged them by subject and then by age-group, youngest first. They are just possibilities. You will not be able to use them all and there is plenty more where they came from. Again, the key is not to get overwhelmed. Just find things that meet your needs. Keep it simple.
An inspiring, confidence-building introduction to homeschooling:
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
Genevieve Foster’s Books (Great for younger children. Augustus Caesar through Lincoln.)
The Story of the World (We use the audio cds in the car. This set provides an awesome birds-eye view of history. Some of this is not appropriate for very young children, particularly Vol. 3: Early Modern Times.)
McGuffey Readers (My children have usually been done with these and ready to try other beginning readers after the first or second volume.)
Phonogram cards from Back Home Industries
Language Mechanic (punctuation) and Word Roots from Critical Thinking Press
Teach cursive writing.
Read to them, or have them read aloud or silently, from great books. If they are just learning to read have them read aloud to you or an older sibling, so you can help as needed.
Almost any book published in the U.S. before 1929 can be found electronically here: Gutenberg.org
Teach standard algorithms, so they don’t need to use a calculator for everything. Information on what not to do: Utahns Against Common Core
Magic School Bus books and videos
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury
The Fallacy Detective (third item down; available in many home school catalogs and at Amazon)
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: Have them look up a word a week in that dictionary, a modern dictionary, and the Bible dictionary; write all definitions down in a notebook, distill the meaning and record it in their own words.
Other great resources:
Please see Legal Issues by State for home school laws governing your state.