Homeschooling Basics: Getting Started

Welcome to homeschooling! I have homeschooled my four and been working with homeschoolers for over 30 years. Here are the Basics to help you get started so you can have a happy homeschooling experience.

Your schooling style will need to fit your family and its needs, but it will also have to meet the requirements of your state and school district. See below for more resources for your specific state! In New York we have to notify the school district within 15 days.

Homeschooling: You Need Some Books

Generally with home schooling, you purchase and teach the subjects your child needs.  Whatever you are teaching, please join me on Homeschool Christian Mom group on Facebook for additional support. If you are having difficulty with finding curriculum or other resources, I can help you in that forum.

There are very good boxed all-in-one curriculums out there. I used and recommend BJU Press Homeschool curriculum for all my kids K thru 12. You can do parent led where you teach or purchase the DVD’s or get the same material through the computer. For any of those ways, there are recommendations for grading or they do it for you. I love the BJU curriculum because they have thought of everything. Subjects are well put together, they list tons of extra resources if you need it and all the prep work is done. On day one, you teach lesson one, etc. So the value of that kind of complete curriculum was worth every penny to me.This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our Disclosure Policy for details.

If you are purchasing the curriculum for your children, I have some reviews of materials on Youtube Homeschool Christian Mom. I teach a lesson during my review and give you an idea of how a lesson or subject works.

There is no perfect curriculum! The public school teachers use what they have and make it work. My own philosophy is to buy a good, all-inclusive curriculum and use it. If it doesn’t quite fit your child or his needs, it is much easier and less expensive to modify a good curriculum than to buy and buy and buy trying to find the perfect books. I do recommend using a complete program such at BJU Press Homeschool, whether parent-led, on-line, or on DVD’s.  For me, it made homeschooling through high school not only doable but wildly successful.

It is a great blessing that there are such good curriculums available: as parent-led (you teach the material using the teacher’s book and your child has the student text), DVD’s (you watch the lessons and use the student books to do the work) or Distance Learning On-line programs (Daily video lessons are delivered to your child by expert teachers. Lessons, eTextbooks, and assignments can be accessed from the web on a computer.)

Review of Footsteps for Fours: BJU Press Homeschool

6th Grade Spelling, BJU Press

Biblical Worldview textbook

Art Porthole Project and Art Text Review

Even if you go with a different company, BJU Press Homeschool curriculum is recognized as one of the best Christian curriculums in the world and a look at these books will help you evaluate any other curriculums.

I have reviewed some of the FREE curriculums that are on-line. Generally the old saying, “You get what you pay for” applies, in my opinion.

Homeschooling: You Need to Have a Place to Teach

I recommend having a place to learn, whether this is the kitchen table or the living room floor. Start everyone out together, talk about what you are each trying to get accomplished and then dig right it and get it done. If you end up spreading out around the house later, fine, but this will give everyone a good start.

Homeschooling: Keep the rules simple!
Keep the rules simple.

Teaching Your Children at Home: Have a Schedule

You may not adapt the rules above, but you do want to have realistic expectations for what is going to happen. Why these rules? I wanted my children to get the bulk of their school work done by lunchtime. This ends up being encouraging to them-and to me!

Research shows that students generally do better at math if they work on it in the morning. And I wanted a definite end-time to school. I tried a more flexible schedule and I found that I do not like an extended school day. It is no fun to try to teach math and have to cook dinner at the same time! Note: To encourage them to “get it done” children who were not done with their schoolwork got extra chores.

Which subject first?

My friend Natalie who teaches second grade recommends starting the day with math, then writing assignments and everything else and ending the day with reading.

Teaching Your Children At Home: What about fun time? Recess? Games?

Of course your children will need breaks HOWEVER let me warn you of one thing: your children will try to convince you that they need lots of loooooong,  extended and frequent breaks. This is not really true. You will have to work with this, but generally it is not unreasonable to ask your children to get 4 subjects done before they get a 20 minute break.

I liked to read to my children during lunch time. We read fun books, character building books, missionary and adventure stories, and my favorites: stories about people who overcome personal adversity! After lunch is a good time for 30 minutes of outside play time followed by either nap time, rest time or quiet reading time in their beds for another 30 minutes. Honestly, this extra time when the house was at least semi-quiet was very helpful to me.

Teaching Your Children: After Rest Time

Research shows that creative subjects are learned best in the afternoon: art class, a history or science project, writing and handwriting, or music. Take advantage of this extra time with your children to create some fun projects together. I have heard of families knitting, sending care packages, gardening or starting tomato plants.

Don’t forget PLAY!

After the school work is done, encourage play with each other and independently. This time with family should make for some good memories of together time. Be intentional about your fun as well as your work.

What about SNACKS?

This is tricky and often joked about as the most expensive part of homeschooling! In my experience, your children will constantly be trying to convince you that they are ready to starve to death at any moment.

We ate a good breakfast together and then they got started on their schoolwork around 8:30 am.  I often fixed a quick snack at 10:30 and then it was back to work till lunch at 12 noon.

We had a snack at 3 pm and then no more snacks until dinner between 5:30 and 6. OF COURSE, you’ll need to adjust this for your family, but I thought I would let you know what we did. Otherwise, you may end up making food ALL DAY LONG! And yes, this did happen to me a few times. Okay, it was more than a few times- but you will be able to find a schedule that works for you!

Homeschooling: What about GRADING?

How is your school district handling this? Are you sending work to the school to be graded? Are they turning in work on-line? Make sure you know what they are expecting. If you are having to grade work yourself, I have another whole article on that called, Don’t Spend Too Much Time Grading Your Kids’ Papers.

My Philosophy

Each one of my children was a special individual that needed a unique education to become the person God wanted them to be.  Read more about this HERE.

You are educating YOUR children and it is a blessing to be there to see them grow, develop skills, have their “Aha!” moments, listen to their silly jokes and help them become wonderful people. You have to know what will motivate them, how best to structure your day, find a good curriculum, and get started. That’s a lot!

You are going to have to be ready to have the inner fortitude to take on this challenge and you have to have a good reason that will keep you going. The answer is, “My children’s education is important to me. I want to help them succeed so I will figure this out.”

Teaching Your Children At Home: Our Views Change

A lot of us moms start out with dreams of being the perfect mom, the perfect mom and teacher, always keeping our kids happy and safe as they grow. We want to  teach them to become responsible citizens and Christians who love the Lord and serve Him. And then after a while we are just like, “I hope to survive this day and this week!” A schooling mission statement will help you survive and succeed!

I homeschooled our four children and have been helping homeschool families for over 25+ years. While my husband and I didn’t start out with a mission statement, it developed over time. We strove to do an exceptional job in educating our children but our goal became more than merely raising smart kids, protecting them from bullies or germs. We recommend having your mission statement in place before you begin your school experience or working on one together.

Teaching your children at home can seem difficult. Thankfully there is a way to get the confidence you need with a phone consult.  Get on my calendar here. This FREE PHONE CALL will begin to take away the Homeschooling Anxieties! My one-on-one/group clients get even more support. Join us!

Teaching Your Children At Home: Mission Statement

Almost all  successful businesses or companies having a mission statement.  For example:

Paypal: “To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”

Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Truett Cathy of Chik-Fil-A had a purpose for all his restaurant employees: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Home Schooling: What is your mission statement going to be? You can read more about our mission statement here.

Teaching your children at home mission statement


A mission statement keeps everyone focused on the goal. If you don’t know what you are aiming at, it is hard to hit the target!!

If you are interested in my homeschool, you can read about it here What is My Home School and What Does It Look Like?

Your Style and Legal Requirements

Your schooling style will need to fit your family and its needs, but it will also have to meet the requirements of your state and school district. If you are homeschooling rather than following your school district recommendations, HSLDA has the legal requirements listed by state as well as other resources. I strongly recommend joining their excellent homeschool advocacy program if you have any fear of negative repercussions from your school district.

If you are looking for your own curriculum, I recommend looking into BJU Press Homeschool. Below is my review of the Footsteps for Fours curriculum from BJU Press Homeschool. This curriculum is excellent on every grade level. I used it for my family almost exclusively and the children made good transitions from homeschooling to college and life.

I also have a series of Youtube videos on scheduling: teaching with young children and older children, how to handle interruptions, how to use transitions between subjects to maximize learning. If you would like to get access to these videos, join my Facebook page Homeschool with Confidence and ask for the links. Let’s get you off to a good start!

Check out my Youtube video teaching Footsteps for Fours here.

Homeschooling: Planning and Schedules: Get your work done! + Be creative

I am a planner.  I like to know what is coming for the day and the week.  I like advanced planning and scheduling. Maybe you know someone that is unschooling during this break.    Basically, their kids are out of an organized school and are running the show. They play, they help mommy make bread, they go outside, cut coupons, play video games and lay around the house.

I am not saying that discovery learning is not taking place, but it is child-led and not planned out. I believe in living and schooling with intentionality. I do not endorse unschooling generally although a few days off may be needed sometimes.  I was a lot more like a drill sergeant! Read more about this HERE.

By changing some rewards and punishments, we were able to get school done by 5 pm every day.  Advanced planning and scheduling are also skills that your children need.  They need to learn how to manage their time for studying, reading, home  work and chores even though they are always home.


Teach My Child? Who? Me?!

Besides being a great resource for parents of special needs childrenSpecial Education: A Biblical Approach, edited by Joe P. Sutton, Ph.D. contains the best and most reasoned argument for Christian education that I have ever read.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for details.

Additional Resources

Amazingly, there is this amazing resource called the internet. Ha! I bet you didn’t see that coming! All kinds of free resources are available to help you: beginning martial arts lessons, piano lessons, game ideas, history projects, etc. The problem is, there are too many ideas! You can spend hours and hours looking for the perfect piano lesson. Here’s the way to handle this: set a timer and find the best ONE piano lesson for your child’s ability  in 15 minutes or less. That’s it! Here’s one I found: Piano lesson for pre-school young children. Use that resource unless you discover it absolutely does not meet your needs. Then use this same time limit to find the next resource.

© 2023

I am more than glad to help you as well. Please join me on Facebook Homeschool Christian Mom and get the assistance you need to be a successful teacher and  parent, no matter what reasons you have for beginning your homeschooling now.

Join me! Homeschool Christian Mom FREE Facebook group with tips on grading, scheduling and more!

Homeschool Christian Mom Facebook page: We discuss the ins and outs of our homeschooling days and offer great ideas to help each other succeed.

Youtube: Homeschool Christian Mom These videos discuss homeschool scheduling, working with your Littles, thinking long term, and many other topics.

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Bonus material: Youtube How I Started with My Homeschooling