How to Start Homeschooling with SchoolhouseTeachers.com
What is Homeschooling?
DIY has become a way of life for some folks. From landscaping to minor home repair, there are entire websites and even TV networks dedicated to encouraging people to do it themselves. But what about teaching your children? Could you do that yourself? Do you know how to start homeschooling? Today, an estimated 2–3 million children are taught by their parents at home. The reasons range from wanting to provide individualized instruction that builds on a child’s strengths and interests, to health issues or special needs, to avoiding school violence, increasing family time, and many more. One big reason is that the public schools are rapidly descending to an agenda far away from Christian principles. DIY Education happens when you take what you have and put your own brand on it.
In the 1970s, a few courageous parents decided to DIY their children’s education. There weren’t a lot of resources available back then, but with ingenuity and determination they successfully taught their kids. Today, that generation of homeschoolers is all grown up, and the resources available for them to teach their own children have vastly increased. There are complete boxed curricula, online courses, DVDs, homeschool co-ops, homeschool magazines, and hundreds of companies that cater directly to the needs, learning styles, and varying interests of students and their parents. When you start to think outside of the “box,” you’ll see that you really can educate your kids yourself.
So, when it comes to home education, there’s no reason you can’t Do It Yourself, especially since it’s completely legal to do so in all 50 states. And with an estimated 2.5 million children currently being home educated in this country, an enormous homeschooling community is standing by to help. SchoolhouseTeachers.com is one such resource of support: it’s the curriculum site of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Now is the time to bring your kids home, and we’re glad you’re here. We can help show you how to start homeschooling! Come explore your options today!
A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.– Luke 6:40
Yes, You’re Qualified!
By Dara Ekanger
Julie had said she would never homeschool her children. It was too weird, and how could she make sure her kids got a good education since she only had an AA degree? But then her fourth grade son started having seizures. After myriad tests couldn’t find a physical problem, the doctor took her aside and said, “Your son can’t handle the stress from school. Pull him out and teach him at home.”
A few weeks into the school year, her seventh grade daughter was coming home daily in tears because of continued harassment by another student. She was a bright girl, but was bored stiff in a classroom that didn’t allow her to go beyond the school’s agenda. “Please, can’t you homeschool me too?” she begged her mother.
So, in 1986, with textbooks purchased from the local private school and some borrowed library books, Julie found herself homeschooling her two children. “We’ll just try it for a week,” she reasoned.
That week became years. I was the seventh-grade daughter. I never went back to “regular” school … and my brother never had another seizure.
Fast forward a few decades. Homeschooling has gone from being “weird” to somewhat common. Almost everyone knows someone who homeschools. And estimates are that 2–3 million American children are now experiencing a very different type of education than their parents did.
Why this incredible increase? The reasons parents give for homeschooling mirror that of my own experience:
- health issue or special needs,
- addressing academic weakness while building on a child’s strengths and interests,
- avoiding school violence and negative peer pressure,
- increasing family time and developing strong family relationships,
- passing on faith and values.
There weren’t a lot of homeschool resources available back in the ’80s, but with ingenuity and determination parents like my mother successfully taught their kids. Today, my generation of homeschoolers is all grown up, and the support and resources available for parents to teach their own children have vastly increased. There are complete boxed homeschool curricula, online courses, DVDs, homeschool co-ops, homeschool magazines, and hundreds of companies that cater to the needs, learning styles, and varying interests of students and their parents.
Where Do I Start?
Find Out the Legal Requirements in Your State
If you’re looking to homeschool one or more of your children, your first stop should be the website of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA.org) where you can check out legal requirements for your state. Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but there are different requirements in each state. For example, South Dakota (where I live) requires parents to fill out an annual exemption form, do standardized testing in certain grades, and teach at a minimum the topics of “language arts and math” for “an equivalent amount of time” as the public school.
If you are planning to withdraw your student from public school after the school year has already started, you should certainly join HSLDA and follow their instructions. While withdrawing during the school year is legal, you must make certain to follow the correct notification process so you aren’t accused of truancy.
HSLDA keeps an eye on state and national bills that may affect homeschooling and advocates on behalf of its members if they ever come into conflict with local school districts, which unfortunately still happens on occasion. Your peace of mind and legal support is well worth the $10-12 month that a membership costs.
Check Out Available State and Local Resources
Almost every state has annual homeschool conventions where vendors, speakers, and parents get together to swap books, ideas, and encouragement. Google “homeschool convention [your state].”
Many states also have state-level homeschool organizations that can offer guidance on state laws, direct you to local support groups (sometimes called co-ops), and that advocate on behalf of homeschoolers in your state legislature.
Even if your state doesn’t have an overall homeschool organization, small independent groups can be found within driving distance of just about every family in the country. Our local all-volunteer group serves a wide range of families from up to an hour away. We have field trips, “Friday Classes,” holiday parties, and public service events. Many of our members found us via our Facebook page or a Google search.
HomeschoolNowUSA.com may also help direct you to local homeschool organizations and events near you.
Check Out Online Resources
There are many blogs and websites that focus on homeschooling families. One such site isTryHomeschooling.com, where you can download articles on organizing your homeschool, issuing report cards, creating high school transcripts, keeping a portfolio, dealing with special needs, and much more. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is considered the “trade magazine” for homeschool families, and is available for free online at www.TOSMagazine.com. It provides dozens of encouraging and valuable homeschool articles with each issue.
How Do I Know What to Teach?
Learn About Different Styles of Homeschooling
There are many different “styles” of homeschooling. You will likely find a style that fits your family’s needs, or you may decide on a blend of two or more styles. In some families (like mine), you may see that one style works great for one child, but another child responds better to a different style. Knowing your particular style is not required to homeschool, but it can help narrow your search for curriculum and provide structure as you are becoming more comfortable with homeschooling.
Just remember that if you start with one style, you are not bound to stay with it forever. The beauty of homeschooling is that you are free to adjust to the varying needs and interests of your children. You are not trapped into a rigid system of requirements and testing that takes all the joy and wonder out of learning. In fact, as the years go on, you may find yourself becoming quite eclectic!
Charlotte Mason: Based on a method introduced by nineteenth-century educator Charlotte Mason, this approach includes nature studies, journaling, narration, and living books.
Classical: Based on Dorothy Sayers’ The Lost Tools of Learning, in which child development is broken up into three “stages” of learning commonly called “the Trivium.”
Delight Directed: This puts the learning in the hands of the child based on his or her interests. Parents help facilitate this type of learning with appropriate instructional materials.
Eclectic: A mix of philosophies and homeschool curricula to accommodate each child’s abilities and interests. Parents choose from any method or style only those components that fit their specific needs.
The Principle Approach: An approach based on the principles of our Founding Fathers and an emphasis on God’s Word as the basis for every subject.
Traditional Textbook: Normally uses a full-range, packaged, textbook type homeschooling curriculum that also may include a scope and sequence, testing, and recordkeeping.
Unit Studies: All or most important subjects are covered while studying any one topic or unit of study, using a variety of resources and supplemental activities.
Unschooling: A relaxed setting where learning is directed by the child. Parts of this philosophy are based on research by John Taylor Gatto and John Holt.
Choose Your Homeschool Curriculum
Unlike the days when parents had to cobble together a homeschool curriculum from whatever resources they could find, today’s parents are blessed with many resources to choose from. Textbook companies now offer complete boxed curriculum by grade level (with optional DVDs) designed for homeschoolers, such as A Beka and Saxon. Companies such as Veritas Press, Memoria Press, and Classical Conversations offer products that follow the Classical style, with CC having weekly co-ops for students to meet together one day per week. Memoria Press and Veritas Press also offer select online courses in addition to their independent homeschool courses. Sonlight and Living Books Curriculum follow the Charlotte Mason method and provide books you can purchase individually or with detailed lesson plans based on grade level.
Another possibility is www.SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It’s an online one-stop resource that can be used for your entire family at one low monthly price. You don’t have to purchase additional books, just access online and print off what is needed for the lessons your child needs to do. Many families use this as their sole homeschooling curriculum, but it can also be used to supplement other programs. Members have access to just over three-hundred courses (preschool through 12th grade), from core subjects like math, science, history, and language arts, to classes like computer programming, Shakespeare, foreign language, fitness, and even film-making.
Cathy Duffy’s http://cathyduffyreviews.com/ has hundreds of curriculum reviews and even an online tool to help you choose books that fit your style and meet your children’s needs.
Your public library most likely has a section with books on homeschooling that could also help direct you to the style or curriculum that would work for you. And don’t forget, some people homeschool using library books almost exclusively!
Talk with homeschool parents in your area, or online, and find out what has worked, or not worked, for them. The biggest thing to remember is that if you find yourself or your child frustrated with a particular curriculum, you don’t have to stick with it! Don’t torture yourself or your kids with a book you don’t like. Sell it or pass it on to a friend. Someone else may like it just fine.
Take the Next Step
You don’t have to have a teaching degree to educate your children at home. You’ve been teaching them from the time they were born—how to walk, how to talk, how to tie their shoes, and to know their letters and numbers. Teaching them to read, do math, enjoy science, and love to learn are just the next logical steps in your parenting journey.
Though you will have difficult days (we ALL do!) and you may question your ability from time to time, there are resources and support for every obstacle you may encounter. The lasting rewards that come from teaching your children at home cannot be overstated.
And if you ever said, “I could never homeschool my kids!” don’t worry. You won’t be the first to find out that you can.
Considering Membership & Video Tour
We’re glad you’re here. This page serves as an introduction to the main features of the site. We’ll show you around and help you feel at home. If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to call 1-888-718-HOME (4663) or email Customer Service at CustomerService@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. If you are a new member, jump over to our New Members Hub on the left which includes answers to FAQ as well as tips on how to get started.
What is SchoolhouseTeachers.com?
It’s the curriculum site of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. We currently offer more than 400 online homeschooling classes for preschool through high school as well as a few courses for parents. Courses vary in length and intensity, from a few weeks to a full year or more. Academic weighting for transcripts of many high school classes is included. Many classes can be printed and done offline if you or your student prefers.
What will I find here?
Classes are not live, so you always have the option of starting any course at any point in time. You can simply visit an earlier lesson and begin at whatever point you are ready (see “Your site says I can start lessons at any time. How do I do that?” below for details). Classes are presented in a variety of formats. Almost all classes have a written component. Some classes, such as Filmmaking, Beginning Guitar, Beginning Violin, French, and Spanish also offer an audio or video component with their lessons.
How much does a membership cost?
Join monthly for $14.95 each month for a limited (K-8) membership or $19.95 per month for our ultimate (K-12) membership or save over 10% on a one-year membership for $139 or $179. One fee serves your entire family. Anyone living in your home can use the site 24/7. There are no per-class or per-child fees and you can cancel anytime (contact us via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us toll-free at 888-718-4663). Special pricing is available for small groups and co-cops.
Do I have to buy textbooks?
No, additional textbook purchases are not required, however many of our lessons refer to books that are generally readily available through the library.
Can I purchase a membership for a friend?
Yes! One of our staff members is able to help you do that. Contact Kristen Hamilton at khamilton@TheOldSchoolhouse.com for details.
Is there a way to earn a free membership?
Yes. Our lesson designers receive advertising (when applicable) and a free membership to the site. If you are interested in either of these things and would like to know more about how to write for our site, please contact executive editor Bonnie Rose Hudson at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com.
We’re glad you’re here. This page serves as an introduction to the main features of the site. We’ll show you around and help you feel at home. If you have any home education or site questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to call 1-888-718-HOME (4663) or email Customer Service at CustomerService@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. You can also use the chat box in the lower right of your screen to reach a customer service representative.
Be sure to check out the Members Forum, created just for you! You can sign in using the same log in you use for this site.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is made up of several key areas, all of which are conveniently found on the blue Menu bar:
- Start Here
- New Members Hub: you’re here!
- What is Homeschooling: provides a brief history of homeschooling
- But Am I Qualified: links to state homeschool laws and various homeschool approaches
- Considering Membership: questions and answers for first-time visitors
- Tutorials: short videos about our site
- Discount Options: lists all available membership discounts we offer to special groups
- Co- Ops and Groups: explains how to use our site with your local co-op
- Quick Links: This gives you quick and easy access to the home page of every course on the site. Once you know what classes your student is taking, these links are shortcuts that will take you directly to each class.
- Browse by Grade: This drop down menu allows you to choose the grade level you are interested in and view all of the courses offered for that particular grade. Click on the grade level and then select a subject area to explore.
- Browse by Subject: This drop down menu allows you to choose the subject you are interested in and view all of the courses for a selected grade band for that particular subject. Click the subject and then select the level you would like to view.
- Course Information: This valuable page give you tips on how to begin utilizing the courses on our site. It also provides an alphabetical list of all of the courses, their length, and recommended grade level for every course. You can also find information about when certain courses will no longer be available.
- Latest News: updates such as new courses, video series or e-books that have recently been added
- Schoolhouse Planners: downloadable and printable planners that are free for members
- Lesson Plans: We are in the process of writing suggested lesson plans for each of our courses. Find a diagram explaining how to use them here.
- Scope and Sequence: This resource will show you the academic goals traditionally held for each grade level and where to find that information on SchoolhouseTeachers.com as well as areas where you may wish to supplement.
- Custom Schedule Builder: Create and print a schedule for the week, completely customized to your student and your homeschooling needs.
- Recordkeeping: AppleCore is user friendly and produces a report card and/or transcript for your student records
- Course Checklist: printable list of our courses that allows you to keep track of what courses your family has taken
- Free Printable Calendars: blank, printable monthly calendar pages for the current school year
- Focused Learning Centers are the place to go when your child is struggling with a skill or you want to find new ways of presenting information
- High School Help: a complete list of which courses on SchoolhouseTeachers.com include suggested transcript weighting information plus tips and resources to help you create a high school transcript
- Special Needs: provides practical solutions and helpful tips for choosing curriculum and modifying and adapting instruction
- Literacy Center: Teach your child to read in 101 easy steps. Comprehension activities are also provided for older readers.
- Just for Parents: courses and unit studies to make it easier to balance homeschooling, managing your home, maintaining a healthy marriage, and much more
- Schoolhouse Expos: Think of this as bringing a homeschool conference to your living room! Enjoy videos of a wide variety of speakers covering many pertinent homeschooling topics.
- Monthly Menu
- TOS Magazine Resources
- Certificate Library: downloadable, printable certificates to reward students for hard work in a course
- Help Charts: printable charts to aid in homeschooling and managing your household
- Videos: library of hundreds of streaming videos free of charge to our members
- Media: a subscription to 10 online libraries from World Book is included, free of charge to our members
Once you select a class, you’ll find information that includes (as applicable):
- How to Use This Course
- Course Details
- Course Introduction
- Course Outline
- Transcript Information
- Download a Preview
- For courses with videos- Watch a Preview Video
- Course Completion Certificates
- Links to lessons
- Links to lesson plans if available
Find out more about our special discount groups below
Please keep in mind that we have a trial membership available, $5 for the first 30 days. See the Join Now page for more details.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com IS NOT
|One option with 400+ online homeschool courses||A one-size-fits-all approach|
|A homeschool curriculum site offering courses for families||An online school|
|Homeschooling courses in a variety of styles and formats||Live teachers|
|Homeschool courses for any grade, preschool-high school||Narrowly focused on one age level|
|Teaching materials for the homeschool parent||Replacement of the homeschool parent|
|Self-paced learning||Rigidly scheduled|
|A great choice for parents of children with special needs because of unlimited flexibility||Focused on cookie-cutter solutions for every child|
|Streaming videos and eBooks||Boring, repetitive lessons|
|Monthly (30 days) or yearly (365) membership fee||Tuition based on number of students or number of courses taken|
|Grade level and scope and sequence suggestions||Prescribed order of classes|
|Material created by nearly 200 lesson designers||The work of a single author or textbook company|
|Independent homeschool resources created to support parents||Aligned with Common Core standards|
|Home of excellent customer service by phone, chat, or email to help you succeed||A distant and removed company unconcerned with your journey|
|Tools to assist with homeschool planning, recordkeeping, and organization||A curriculum-only product lacking tools for implementation|
|An excellent option to use as the core of your online homeschool curriculum or to fill in gaps||A complete homeschool curriculum for every grade (See Scope & Sequence for more details)|
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine publishes both quarterly interactive-digital magazines AND biannual print magazines for Summer and Winter. This means that twice yearly, we are shipping hard copy magazines – YOUR trade publication for homeschool families. Members are not charged for the magazines or shipping! Be sure you are signed up via your Member Dashboard to ensure the upcoming print issue ships to your address!
Curriculum on SchoolhouseTeachers.com is presented in either a downloadable or online format. There are no physical items included in your membership.