How Do I Start Homeschooling?
Burnt out on online learning? Frustrated with your child’s schooling experience? Whether recent events have spun your education plans upside down or you’ve been considering homeschool for a while, getting started with home education can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, Sonlight has been doing this for a while...more than 30 years! We’re here to help you navigate the process from the first day of school to graduation day.
You’re here because you love your children and value their education and want to know how to start homeschooling. You’ve already taught your children naturally since birth! You can certainly continue to teach them throughout the next stages in life.
The Decision to Homeschool
The decision to homeschool is the first big step.
- Once you have made that decision (and you may need to make it each year), we recommend getting a copy of your state's homeschool laws so you can be confident of what is required.
- Second, you may want to consider your preferred school style or philosophy of education.
- Third, read the rest of this article for practical help and the best homeschooling resources.
How Does Homeschooling Work?
Make yourself a cup of coffee and click on the image below for the ins and outs of homeschooling. You will learn about the costs of homeschooling, the legal side, to homeschooling FAQs, tips, homeschooling resources for parents, and everything in between.
Get answers to the most common questions beginning homeschoolers have, and learn the basics you need to know to start your own homeschooling journey today. Get the free Homeschooling 101 guide.
How Do I Start A Sonlight Homeschool Adventure Today?
- Try Sonlight Free
Request the Sonlight Invitation (it's free!) and see if this exceptional, literature-based education is right for your family. Request your free trial here. Sonlight isn't a good fit for everyone, but you'll know if it will be a good fit for your family after reading this article.
- Request a Catalog
Enjoy the Sonlight catalog in digital or print format, or get both! Request your free catalog here.
- Read the Sonlight Blog
You will find lots of helpful topics from new to veteran homeschoolers.
- Join the Sonlight Community
Interact with fellow Sonlighters, get homeschool advice, and more in the Sonlight Connections Community. Find community here.Connect with Sonlight online via your favorite social media channels or in our App. Check out what other Sonlighters are saying with #sonlightstories.
- Sign Up For Our Emails
Get ongoing encouragement, inspiration, and practical homeschool advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up for Sonlight emails here.
- See Where Past Sonlighters Are Now
The Sonlight literature-based method works! See where adult Sonlight students are today..
- Homeschool With Purpose
Discover Sonlight's Top 10 Goals and you'll have a vision of what to expect in your upcoming school year.
- Hear Stories from Other New Homeschoolers
We talked to our new homeschoolers to find out how contented they are about their choice to homeschool. See what they said.
- Listen to the Sonlight Connections Podcast
Join our conversation with homeschool experts for encouragement, tips, and fellowship. We explore homeschooling through the lens of literature-rich, Christ-centered education.
- See us in person
Find out if Sonlight will be at a homeschool convention in your area or at an upcoming online homeschool event.
What Resources Are Needed For Homeschooling?
It may seem simplistic, but the primary resource you need is a willingness to devote your time and attention to your child's education!
Secondly, of course, you will need to choose a curriculum to cover the basics under your state homeschool law and provide structure to your homeschool year.
Other homeschooling resources vary by family. You’ll need the basic school supplies like paper, writing utensils, crayons, math manipulatives, a calculator, books, art supplies, a home computer, and access to a good library. Don’t worry about accumulating everything at once! Many items acquired and used by one child can be used by the whole family or younger children as they move up in grades.
What Qualifications Are Required To Homeschool?
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and generally a teaching certificate is not required. Laws vary from state to state, but typically you must be the parent or grandparent of a child to homeschool them. Some states require supervision by a certified teacher if you have fewer than a certain number of college credits.
Want to know about the legal issues concerning homeschooling in your state? This interactive page from Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) will help. Military families overseas generally homeschool under US laws.
Generally speaking, your willingness to learn along with your child is the main prerequisite. You can do this!
Don't feel adequate? Homeschool curriculum resources and packages that contain a full year's coursework can serve as your assistant teacher with Instructor’s Guides and answer keys. Fellow homeschool moms both in-person and online are great homeschooling resources as well!
Still unsure about whether you are qualified to homeschool? You're not alone! When Sonlight’s founder, Sarita Holzmann, first realized she needed to homeschool, she was not thrilled. She found herself overwhelmed, uncertain, and reluctant. After starting, she found that, with her literature-based method, she actually loved this new dimension of parenting.
At that time, there were no complete curriculum programs available; moms had to assemble products piecemeal. She started Sonlight over 30 years ago because she found that homeschooling was such a blessing to her and her family that she wanted to make that blessing available to others like you. Hear Sarita’s powerful story and be encouraged by her advice in the video below.
Homeschooling is the fastest growing education segment in the United States, according to Dr. Brian Ray, Ph.D., president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI 2020). Hundreds of thousands of families have successfully educated their children who have gone on to fulfill their callings in adulthood. You can do this, too!
How Do I Start Homeschooling Checklist
Download this free printable homeschool checklist and ensure you've covered all your bases.
Sonlight is an all-in-one homeschool curriculum that has guided tens of thousands of families to start (and continue) homeschooling their children with ease and confidence. Once you’re ready, see how you can personalize a homeschool experience for your kids when choosing your Sonlight curriculum.
For one-on-one assistance, reach out to a Sonlight Advisor for help.
Sonlight is an all-in-one curriculum that makes it easy to start homeschooling. What is it like to homeschool with Sonlight? This Q&A can help!
Essential Reading for Beginner Homeschoolers
- Learn how to overcome your fears of homeschooling here.
- Read the alphabetical guide to homeschooling.
- Find your curriculum style with the help from this ultimate guide to picking a curriculum.
- What is literature-based homeschooling?
Free Printable Homeschool Resources
- Free math placement tests
- Timed math drills
- Free reading assessment test
- Sight words flash cards
- Sonlight Curriculum placement tests
- Sonlight summer reading printables
- Free printable homeschool curriculum resources for Advent, elections, Olympics and more!
- How to Conquer Your Clutter in 8 Easy Steps
How Do I Lesson Plan for the Year?
Sonlight offers resources for homeschooling all the academic and elective subjects with prepared schedules, notes, teacher helps, answer keys, and appendices: History / Bible / Literature, Math, Science, Language Arts, Electives.
Because the homeschooling materials and lesson plans are pre-planned, you can enjoy the learning journey. We also prepare Science Kits with all the supplies you need for the scheduled science experiments.
Aside from our complete packages, you can find thousands of resources both with Sonlight Curriculum and online, many free. We also offer scope and sequence charts so you can cover the basics and plan ahead.
Crafting a schedule doesn't have to be frustrating. Check out these ideas to make building the right schedule for your family easy peasy.
How Can a Homeschool Teacher Get Educator Discounts?
Many companies offer teacher discounts, and many include homeschool teachers! You will likely be asked to show some form of proof—a dated intent to homeschool form or a similar form may be all that is needed.
Here are just a few of the FREE online homeschooling resources to ease your homeschool fears and equip you to educate your children. When in doubt, ask. A few stores that provide a homeschool teacher discount are:
Many museums also offer educator discounts and homeschool days. Ask! Many other free online homeschooling resources are available.
Do Parents Get Paid To Homeschool?
The short answer is no. Generally, homeschooling requires the attention of at least one parent, which may actually reduce the household income. But the loss of a second income may be offset with fewer expenses related to work and going to public school.
Homeschooling also has some invisible benefits that may save you money in the long run. Children who get adequate sleep and are not constantly in large public settings may get sick less often and be less stressed. Educator discounts and homeschool days at museums and more can add up (especially with multiple children).
Homeschooling allows the margin for you to find other income sources or to create a family business: tutoring, consulting, part-time virtual work, childcare and other options are available, particularly in today's online world. Read how Sonlight families have managed to juggle work and homeschooling.
How Do I Homeschool a Child with Special Needs?
You love your child and absolutely can be their best teacher if they have special needs. In fact, the ability to tweak lesson plans is a huge perk of schooling at home. Instead of your child getting lost in a crowd of students, they are the center of your focus and get the specialized attention they need.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is a great option, but it's not the only educational choice. And it's not for every family, every year. Get the free guide of pros and cons of homeschooling as our gift to you.
Pros of Home Education
- You are the central influence in your children’s lives and have more opportunities to build meaningful relationships with them.
- You get to see the lightbulb moments when they learn to read, when multiplication finally clicks, and when the science experiment works exactly as expected (and recover when it doesn’t!).
- You can tailor your children's education according to their specific gifts, interests, special needs, and learning styles.
- You can share your values and beliefs with your children and guide them as difficult questions surface.
- Home education shields your children from certain negative influences they may encounter at school.
- Your family can experience a lifestyle of freedom outside the constraints of a school year calendar.
- Your kids have more time for adequate sleep and play.
Cons of Homeschooling
- If your family and friends disagree with your choice, you may feel the need to justify your decision to homeschool.
- Your children are home with you day after day, so you will spend more time with them than you may be accustomed to.
- You may have to readjust your lifestyle as you live on a single income or find ways to work from home.
- You may sense a feeling of isolation depending on the number of like-minded homeschoolers in your local community.
- Homeschooling requires flexibility. You may have to manage feelings of being behind or not accomplishing everything you had in mind.
- You may have to get out of your comfort zone as you learn how to homeschool effectively.
Some families use a mix of homeschooling, private education, and public schools for their children, choosing different options year by year as needs change. When you choose to homeschool, remember that it can be on a trial basis for just one year. Then you can revisit the decision, weighing your kids' needs and your current family situation. You are never locked into a choice, so don't be intimidated about exploring all your options—including homeschooling.