Your quick start guide to homeschooling this year

Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

This Week Only: THE ULTIMATE HOMESCHOOLING BUNDLE (afflink) is available through Friday, AND it’s 97% off–less than $30! With resources for teaching preschool through high school, it’s worth a peek to see if it might be a help this year! Order by the end of Tuesday & receive an extra bonus!

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Everywhere I look online, I see parents trying to determine what is best for their kids as this new, unusual school year kicks off.

I asked myself what I would want and need if I was considering homeschooling, and I decided I would want someone to simplify EVERYTHING and TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

Give me options, and make them crystal clear. This post is my attempt to do so!

But first, if you know you’re committed to sending your kids back to a public or private school just as soon as it’s open, I recommend following their guidelines and using the materials they give you to get started until that happens. You don’t really need the rest of this post.

If you’ve decided to homeschool on your own (outside of the umbrella of a school) for part or all of this year, I’ve suggested below one easy way to get started (though remember it’s not the only way!).

Also, keep in mind these recommendations for academic learning time based on age/grade:

  • Pre-kindergarten: 15-30 minutes
  • Kindergarten: 30-60 minutes
  • Grades 1 & 2: 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hours
  • Grades 3 & 4: 1-1/2 to 3 hours
  • Grades 5 & 6: 2-1/2 – 3-1/2 hours
  • Grades 7 & 8: 3 to 4-1/2 hours
  • High School: 4-1/2 to 6 hours

Hopefully that has you breathing easier already! Now for more specifics:

Grades K-6:

Suggested focus for this age – Maintain (or reconnect to) your child’s natural love of learning!

One easy way to get started:

  1. Order a BrainQuest workbook for your child’s current level.
  2. Follow the 3 hour homeschool solution I outlined back in March.
  3. Add in the power of home!

A bit more detail:

1. BrainQuest workbooks

Incorporate a bit of the 3R’s (reading instruction, writing, & arithmetic) into your homeschool days to keep your kids progressing in those subjects. It really is that simple!

These workbooks have around 300 pages, so help your child do 2-3 a day: one language arts page, one handwriting page, and/or one math page. (And because they would finish in only 100 days, you can take a break when it gets stressful!)

If your child can read and write already, ask them when they want to do their pages. Independently? With you at the table?

My kids used to like it when I would rip daily pages out of a workbook—that way they weren’t seeing ALL the empty ones still to come. It felt more manageable.

Use intentional bribery to motivate your child if necessary–don’t let this become a dreaded part of the day!

Is your child still working toward reading fluency? Then I also recommend trying Reading Eggs Online (4 weeks free) to help with the basics. Or if you want more structure and to do the teaching yourself, try All About Reading.

2. 3 Hour Homeschool Solution

Check out my post from earlier this year to find my recommended 3 hour plan for your homeschool lifestyle, including read alouds, book work, and intentional online learning.

3. Add in the power of home!

Don’t forget to use the building blocks of home to your advantage: chores, cooking and baking, discussions over a plate of brownies, playing with pets, board games, and whatever makes your family unique!

There is a learning opportunity around every corner.

If you want or need more structure:

With the above, you are covering the basics and beyond, so you don’t necessarily need a formal curriculum.

But if it would be a comfort to have a specific daily plan to follow, and your child would appreciate that structure, check out these all in one programs that go from PreK-12th grade: Oak Meadow (secular) or Sonlight (Christian).

Grades 7-12:

Suggested focus for this age – Deepen connection with your teen and keep track of their learning

One easy way to get started:

  1. Use All in One Homeschool (a free, online curriculum) for subjects you need based on your state/country’s homeschool guidelines.
  2. Find out what your child wants to learn about this year and count their hours.
  3. Add in the power of home!

A bit more detail:

1. All in One Homeschool

This free, online curriculum offers daily assignments in a variety of subjects for all ages–pick and choose the essentials that your child needs this year. (Don’t try to do all of them!)

2. Ask your child; count the hours.

To homeschool older ages, you need to make it a partnership–otherwise each day becomes a battleground. When adolescents have the freedom to direct at least some of their education, it goes much more smoothly!

Set boundaries around what is and isn’t allowed during designated school hours, particularly as it relates to technology. But when it comes to their learning, involve your teen as much as possible in the decision-making.

Keep in mind that around 150 hours of work in an area equals one high school credit. If there’s something your child is passionate about and does a lot of already, those hours count! Your child’s piano practice and instruction becomes a music credit, and so on.

My 11th grade son needs a technology elective to graduate, so we created a “Lighting Design Technology” course that counts the hours he spends learning lighting design programming, something he was already doing in his free time since he hopes to work on Broadway.

Voila – now it has become an elective as well!

3. Add in the power of home!

With teens, having extra time to pour into their lives as a parent/mentor/friend can be an unexpected gift during this time–for them and you.

So don’t forget to use the building blocks of home to your advantage with your teens, too: chores, cooking and baking together, discussions over a plate of brownies, documentaries, and whatever makes your family unique!

I hope this post has lightened your load just a little–you can totally do this!

Yes, there will be tough days and moments as you find your way. But sometimes the best things in life are unexpected, and one year from now you and yours might just find that you love learning at home.

Please know that Simple Homeschool will always be here to help!

Have any questions? Ask below and we’ll do our best to help you out!

What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!