Guest Post: How to Start Homeschooling

how to start secular homeschooling

From Lilly: One mantra I tell myself at least once a week (or day, depending on the week) is that I’m not homeschooling, I’m pandemic schooling. And, no matter how we’re approaching school this year, no parent has ever taken on this much before. For us, homeschooling this year provided an opportunity to build a weekly routine for our family that would be as manageable and as dependable as possible, along with many other reasons why we started homeschooling that I’ve shared. It’s a highly situational proposition that can have a lot of unexpected benefits for everyone in the family when it’s a good fit. I feel like it takes one family doing it right to open the idea of it to others, which is why I’m so glad to know my friend Kelsey. Kelsey and her partner, Riley, own Holloway Fine Art, and are exceptional people, parents and, in my opinion, primary educators to their children. I’m so happy Kelsey agreed to share her story and exceptional resources with all of us that might be considering this approach or curious about how a working family makes it happen.

A few months ago, Lilly approached me to write a guest blog to share my family’s journey to being a “veteran” homeschool family. I wouldn’t consider us anywhere near experienced as Amber O’Neal Johnston, who is homeschooling four children between the ages of 4 and 10, or Paula Penn-Nabrit, who homeschooled her three boys to the Ivy League. We have been homeschooling our 6-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy for twelve months — before the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of families to unexpectedly pivot into “crisis-schooling.”

Disclaimer: Before I get into our personal why for homeschooling, it’s important for me to address that I am by no means anti-public schooling. A strong public education system is essential to our society to provide universal access to free education. Homeschooling is not accessible for every family.

We homeschool because we have the opportunity to do so. Homeschooling allows us to teach our kids in a way that’s catered to their individual styles of learning. We can incorporate their interests, which one day may turn into a hobby, a career, or into interests that change. We aim to create lifelong learners who are question-askers and answer finders. Will we homeschool through high school graduation? Maybe, maybe not. We take it one semester at a time and are focused on the foundation of the here and now, the early years. Our main goal is for them to know themselves and to be confident in their abilities.

If you’re interested in exploring the possibilities of homeschooling, I have two tips for beginning your journey:

1. Know and remember your why.

2. Surround yourself with other homeschooling families (even if it’s a group of internet strangers).

Know and Remember Your Why

It took me some time to become a confident, homeschooling parent. There have been many times I wanted to quit. Not every day is sweet. Sometimes there are tears (from the kids and me alike). Sometimes it takes exploring eight different ways of teaching the same thing for it to click. But when it clicks, it is the most fulfilling reward for all of us. We did it! Because we are able and because we can. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can slow down or speed up as needed. No child is left behind, and we are learning for the love of learning, not memorizing to take a test. Our homeschool is not just about academics. Our homeschool is practical, relational, spiritual, and emotional. When Michelle Obama visited Dallas for her Becoming tour, one of my favorite quotes from her talk on parenting was, “I wasn’t raising children, I was raising adults.” Isn’t that the truth? We have 18 short years with these little humans before they’re off to navigate society, with the morals and self-worth they learned at home. The days pass slowly, but the years pass quickly.

Homeschooling is a challenge, even on our best days. I sometimes have to remind myself why we started – the freedom, to slow down, to connect. To meet our kids where they are and gently support them to their next victory.

Here are a couple of books that have helped me feel more supported in our decision to homeschool:

The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education

Better Together: Strengthen Your Family, Simplify Your Homeschool, and Savor the Subjects that Matter Most

Surround Yourself with Other Homeschooling Families

Facebook groups, y’all. Facebook groups have saved me. I deleted my Facebook and came back for the homeschooling Facebook groups alone! It’s a mecca of information from curricula recommendations to understanding state homeschool requirements to having an everyday support system of parents and caregivers who *get it*.

A few of my favorite Facebook homeschooling groups:

Secular, Eclectic, Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers

Secular Homeschooling with Netflix & Other Media

Free Homeschool Ideas

Group for Black homeschool families:

Melanated Homeschooling Families Support Group

Our favorite homeschool online resources:

Khan Academy – non-profit that provides free curriculum for pre-k to college.

Outschool – live, online classes for kids – Outschool is currently donating $300 USD per eligible family. We utilized this for phonics, math, circle time, art and French classes.

Here’s a list of Black Outschool teachers, organized by subject. 

Funnix – our favorite phonics software (models the same technique as Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Lessons book) – now available in a new online app!

Gemiini Learning – we use this to help our son with his speech – I highly recommend for children with and without exceptionalities. It is $89/month, but they offer financial assistance if needed. 

Best of luck on your schooling journey, no matter your route.

With love,

Kelsey H.

Disclaimer: This guest post contains affiliate links for us to continue low-cost homeschooling!

Also see: The Radical Self-Reliance of Black Homeschooling

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