A QUICKSTART GUIDE TO YOUR HOME SCHOOL
UNDERSTAND YOUR STATE LAWS
Every state has different laws regarding homeschooling. Find your state laws with a search for "homeschooling in _____ (your state)." We also recommend Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for their comprehensive listings.
Four legal options for homeschooling in California.
Enroll in a public independent study program or Charter School.
File the R-4 annually with the California Department of Education and maintain all records for your own private school.
Hire a credentialed tutor.
Enroll in a private school satellite program (or PSP) such as Branson Academy.
Please check your state requirements for homeschooling before enrolling in our PSP. Branson Academy does not enroll students residing in states which require students to register with a PSP within that state.
We accept traveling homeschoolers, and international homeschool students where instruction is English-based.
DISCOVER YOUR CHILD'S LEARNING STYLE
It will save you time and money.
It will help you tailor resources and teaching style to your child's strengths.
It will help you and your child avoid frustration with curriculum that doesn't work.
Learning Styles will help you discover how your child processes information!
Discover how you learn, too!
If your child isn't picking up what you're putting down, you may be teaching in the way YOU learn, not how your child learns!
See other resources in our booklist below - especially Seven Kinds of Smart, by Thomas Armstrong, Debra Bell's The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, John Holt's How Children Learn, and Every Child Can Succeed: Making the Most of Your Child's Learning Style, by Cynthia Tobias.
EXPLORE CURRICULUM AND TEACHING AIDS
It's so fun to browse through homeschool offerings! Keep in mind 1) your budget, and 2) your child's learning style (not just what catches your eye as cool as it looks!).
Browse grade and subject specific resource suggestions under the Parents tab on the menu bar.
Remember to look at free resources such as the public library and Khan Academy videos to supplement learning.
Book fairs, used booksellers, homeschool conferences, and homeschool support groups (or park day groups) are great places to find curriculum or sponsored classes.
Family, friends, and neighbors may have resources to contribute to your child's learning.
Start with the basics and build.
Certain subjects are called "Core" subjects -- they are the building blocks of our learning. Math. Science. Language Arts (including reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary.) Social Studies and History.
Other subjects are considered electives, such as Art, Music, Foreign Languages.
Some homeschool philosophies use a holistic approach combining the study of science and art, music and languages, and social studies with reading and literature.
Often parents new to homeschooling will purchase a "What Your Child Needs to Know in XYZ Grade" book. While those can be helpful as a reference, we recommend evaluating your child's existing framework and foundation, and building from there.
If a child is having difficulty reading, consider whether she needs extra help with phonics... or a pair of glasses. If your child is beyond grade level in math, take a cue from video games and advance to the next level!
Homeschooling means your child can learn at his or her own level and pace.
See more free ideas on our Resources page.
CREATE AN ENGAGING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
This can be anywhere from a dedicated area in the den or living room to the kitchen table and backyard.
Consider white boards and colored markers, Montessori teaching aids and other hands-on project material to stimulate learning, easy-to-reach supplies for little ones, a backyard garden or obstacle course, colorful wall maps and posters, and a basket full of books in a comfy reading area.
Remember to include such things as graphing calculators and grid paper for algebra, an affordable microscope or online science lab, music and art supplies, and foreign language books or apps.
DESIGN A FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE
Personalize your study schedule to meet your needs. Here are some options.
Five Day Week with standard school vacation schedule
Four Day Week: Four days a week for studies / one day for field trips, park day, or medical appts.
Three Weeks On / One Week Off: Works well for Grades K-6, unit studies, and extra holidays.
Nine Weeks On / Two Weeks Off: Builds in time for extra projects during the year or impromptu vacations.
Alternating classes or subjects by day.
MWF and T-TH alternating schedule
DAILY = Math, Foreign Language, Music
MWF = History, Language Arts
T-TH = Science and Electives
PRO-TIP! Calendar vacation days and holidays first. Then plug in study days.
JUMP IN AND SWIM! THE WATER'S FINE!
You got this!!
Over two million children are being homeschooled in the United States. So that's a lot of parents, right!?! You are definitely not alone!
Connect with other homeschool parents through homeschool blogs or park day groups. If you are transitioning from public school be gentle with yourself, and your kids! It takes time (anywhere from three months to a year!) to adjust, re-center your focus, allow space for growth and development, and to figure out what works for your family.
Enjoy the journey!
A good place to start your homeschool journey is by reading classic books on home education, blogs, and connecting with other homeschool parents. Here's a list of classic homeschooling books. Most are revised and updated from the original with new resources, including online, digital formatting. Available through Amazon, GoodReads, Half-Price Books and other booksellers, or free at your public libraries!
See our Facebook page for homeschool blogs and creative ideas for DIY backyard obstacle courses, sensory bins, and learning tools.
Colfax, David and Micki. Homeschooling for Excellence. Warner, 1988 (Role models for generations of homeschooling families, this is the account of a homeschooling family that sent three sons to Harvard.)
Gatto, John Taylor. The Underground History of American Education. Oxford Village Press, 2001. New York State Teacher of the year who became a strong advocate for home education.
Griffith, Mary. The Homeschooling Handbook. Prima, 1999. (Author of the Unschooling Handbook below.)
Holt, John and Farenga, Patrick. Teach Your Own. Perseus Publishing, 2003, orig. pub. 1981.
HOW TO HOMESCHOOL
Bell, Debra. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. Tommy Nelson, Inc., 1997. Revised and updated. (Information in Debra Bell's guide was used in our Learning Styles doc as a quick reference to understanding how your child learns.)
Griffith, Mary. The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom. 1998. Amazon.com Editorial review: “...Written in a conversational, salon- style manner, The Unschooling Handbook is liberally peppered with anecdotes and practical advice from unschoolers, ... [and] includes resources such as one teenager's sample "transcript," a typical weekly log of a third-grader's activities, and helpful lists of magazines, online mailing lists, Web sites, and catalogs....”
Wise, Jessie and Bauer, Susan. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. W. W. Norton and Company, 1999. Revised 2016. A step-by-step, grade-by-grade, subject-by-subject guide to the classical pattern of education, along with curricula recommendations, book lists, and more. Find their books, teaching aids, and online courses at Well-Trained Mind.
Armstrong, Thomas. 7 Kinds of Smart. Penguin Books, 1993.
Bell, Debra. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, (part 2, sect.9) Tommy Nelson, Inc., 2001 Edition.
Holt, John. How Children Learn. (Revised Edition) by DaCapo Press, 1983. (Though not specifically about learning styles, this is an insightful book on the nature of early learning.)
Moore, Dr. Raymond and Dorothy. Better Late Than Early. Reader's Digest Press, 1989
Tobias, Cynthia. Every Child Can Succeed: Making the Most of Your Child's Learning Style. Focus on the Family Publishing, 1999.
Tobias, Cynthia. The Way They Learn. Tyndale House Publishers, 1994.
Willis, Mariaemma and Hodson, Victoria. Discover Your Child’s Learning Style. Prima Publishing, 1999.
Colorosa, Barbara. Kids Are Worth It! Quill Press, 1995. About parenting styles and how to create and model a strong, flexible parenting toolkit.
Farris, Vickie and Metzgar, Jayme Farris. A Mom Just Like You: The Homeschooling Mother. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2002.
Glenn, Stephen, (Ph.D.) and Nelsen, Jane, (Ed.D.) Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self- Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People. Prima Publishing, 2000.
Hinckley, Gordon B. Standing for Something. Three Rivers Press, 2000.
Tobias, Cynthia. You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child. Waterbrook Press, 1999.