A QUICKSTART GUIDE TO YOUR HOME SCHOOL
Exploring homeschooling options? Or "suddenly schooling at home!"
This guide will help you get started!
UNDERSTAND YOUR STATE LAWS
Each 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.
1. Enroll in a public independent study program or public Charter School.
2. File the R-4 annually with the California Department of Education
and maintain all records for your own private school.
3. Hire a credentialed tutor.
4. 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. (Example: Washington State)
We do accept traveling homeschoolers, and international homeschool students where instruction
DISCOVER YOUR CHILD'S LEARNING STYLE
Discover how your child learns and processes information!
Save time and money.
Tailor resources to your child's strengths.
Avoid frustration with curriculum that doesn't work.
Our free Learning Styles pdf will help you discover your child's personality type and useful tips for teaching.
Then identify Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic learning with this VARK Questionnaire for Younger People.
Or check out Time4Learning's study tips for Seven Different Types of Learners here for visual/spatial, aural/auditory, verbal/linguistic, physical/kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, social/interpersonal, solitary/intrapersonal.
If you're a book reader, see 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.
If your child isn't picking up what you're putting down you may be teaching the way YOU learn, not how your child learns! Discover how you learn, too!
EXPLORE CURRICULUM AND TEACHING AIDS
It's so fun to browse through homeschool curriculum and teaching aids!
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 resources.
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.
Core subjects are the building blocks of our learning. Math. Science. Language Arts (including reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary.) Social Studies and History.
Electives are Art, Music, Foreign Languages, Computer Programming and Coding, Cooking and Nutrition, Leadership Skills, Drivers Ed, Urban Gardening... you get the idea!
New homeschooling parents think they need a scope and sequence for "What Your Child Needs to Know in XYZ Grade." We think those are great reference books. We recommend first evaluating your child's existing framework and foundation.
What does your child already know? Are there any holes or gaps? Use free online placement tests if you are unsure. Once you have a solid understanding of your child's skillset, you can build on those.
Use a holistic approach integrating science and art, social studies and language arts, and history through the lens of inventors, artists, musicians and writers.
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 our Resources page for curriculum providers.
CREATE AN ENGAGING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
A study area may be a dedicated space in the den or living room, at the kitchen table or the backyard.
Consider white boards and colored markers. Montessori teaching aids and 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. 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.
See more ideas on Learning Environments
DESIGN A FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE
Personalize your study schedule to meet your needs.
Popular Study Schedules
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.
Mon/Wed/Fri and Tues/Thurs alternating schedule
Alternating classes or subjects by day.
DAILY = Math, Foreign Language, Music
MWF = History, Language Arts
T-TH = Science and Electives
Semi-Structured Daily Schedule
A.M. - Morning Chores and Studies
P.M. - Personal Projects or PlayTime (depending on age of child)
Can include coding / graphic design / fashion design / writing / carpentry / arts and crafts / music practice / community service / gardening / driving lessons or other electives
Evening: Reading / Family Time / Games
Flip the schedule to fit your needs.
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 to adjust, re-center your focus, allow space for growth and development, and figure out what works best for your family.
Want to partner with our PSP? Enroll here.
Enjoy the journey!
Links to homeschool blogs
DIY backyard obstacle courses
how-to's for sensory bins and learning tools
and LOTS of other homeschool ideas
on our Facebook page.
Start your homeschool journey reading classic books, homeschool blogs, and connecting with other homeschool parents.
Below is our list of all time favorites -- revised and updated with new resources, including online, digital formatting. Available through Amazon, GoodReads, Half-Price Books and other booksellers, or free at your public libraries!
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.
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.