Useful Tips

Getting Started:

Useful tips

from HSLDA

Homeschooling is rewarding, but hard work. You’ll need friends and resources along the way. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your homeschooling journey:
Get plugged In

Join your local and state support groups, participate in local homeschool events, and talk with veterans who can show you the ropes. Our homeschool organizations listing is a good place to start at

Tune in to your

child’s learning style

    Homeschooling enables you to tailor your child’s education to his unique style of learning. “Children’s overall learning style includes both the channel through which she/he learns (eye, ear, or hand) and the ways in which she/he is most motivated to learn—‘thinking style’” (Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling*). Other resources:

    The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

    Help! My Child Isn’t Learning by Dr. Grant Martin

    Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson

Select a type of curriculum

& method of homeschooling

Homeschooling: There are almost as many curriculum combinations and educational philosophies as there are homeschooling families. Many families find their teaching style and curriculum choices altering to meet their growing children’s changing needs. Here’s a nutshell description of some general categories: (See Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling* for a much more thorough description of curriculum types.)

    Traditional—Textbook/workbook approach, emphasizing reading, writing, grammar, and spelling through drill and practice.

    Classical—Following the medieval “trivium,” a child’s education progresses from fundamental facts and skills to logic and advanced language abilities. Students study the great works of Western literature.

    Unit studies (instructor-designed thematic studies)—Progress in several disciplines is woven around a particular theme.

    Unschooling / Child-directed / Delight-directed—Allowing a child to learn by encouraging and equipping him to pursue his own interests (guided or unguided exploration).

One of the great things about homeschooling is that you don’t have to be limited to just one approach—you can mix and match, taking what you like from each approach, to maximize your child’s learning.

Attend a convention or curriculum fair
“At a curriculum fair, you have many of the homeschool publishers and their most popular products all gathered under one roof,” explains Beverly McCord. “You can really pick up a book and thumb through it—you can’t do that when you are trying to shop over the Internet or through mail order catalogs. You can get honest consumer feedback. Just stand at a publisher's booth for about 10 minutes and get an earful of what homeschoolers think about some of the titles of that publisher—which ones are the jewels that everybody’s using and which ones are really not that helpful. Many of these publishers actually wrote the materials they’re selling. I just love being able to talk to a live human being and really get my questions answered.” (Ed’s note—HOME has many curriculum vendors present at it’s annual Convention—we also have a great variety of materials for sale at our office in Hope, Maine.)

Tap into the used Curriculum market

Save money by borrowing, buying, or selling second-hand materials and swapping with other homeschoolers in your local support group, at regional/state book fairs, or through used curriculum vendors. (Ed’s note—HOME will hold it’s Used Curriculum Sale on June 6, 2009 in Augusta.)

Choose a place to do school

In the kitchen? Living room? In a school room? Each family finds solutions that work for them. For some creative ideas for streamlining and maximizing your space, check out these books:

Help for the Harried Homeschooler: A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child’s Education with the Rest of Your Life by Christine Field,

Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett

Be creative with field trips

Start with nearby chambers of commerce, tourism offices, historical societies, town halls, craft guilds, fire/rescue companies, other support groups, and yellow pages. Next, try your local library or book store for family travel guides for the region in which you are interested . . . and then use your imagination!


Many parents have faced and overcome the same obstacles you may encounter in your homeschooling journey. In addition to asking homeschooling veterans for their advice, consider some of the following suggestions:

Winning over friends & relatives
If you have some skeptical relatives or friends, you’re not alone. Many homeschooling families have won the respect, and even changed the opinions of nearby critics through simply providing positive social interaction and allowing their children’s educational success to speak for itself. You can make a difference by explaining why you are homeschooling, having your child put together a scrapbook or portfolio showing samples of his best work for the year, reporting standardized test scores, having your child write articulate letters, or encouraging him to perform some voluntary service demonstrating strong language, math, and/or social skills.

Tackling the "hard"

subjects like calculus or latin

Maybe you could trade calculus for French lessons! Many homeschooling parents have found they can round out their children’s education by trading teaching time in their areas of expertise—usually referred to as co-opting. Other options include private tutors (could be a friend or coworker) and community college classes.

    The Complete Guide to Successful Co-oping for Homeschooling Families by Linda Koeser and Lori Marse

Making a transcript

The key here is not waiting until just before college. Help your student start planning his transcript as he's getting ready to enter the high school years.

    Creating Transcripts and Issuing Diplomas by Inge Cannon, EducationPLUS, Inge also teaches Transcript Boot Camps and offers a Home School Transcript Generator (computer software).

    Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

    Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook: Preparing Your 12– to 18–Year–Old for a Smooth Transition & And What About College? by Cafi Cohen

Adjusting to life on one income

Many families have faced this challenge and share the innovative ways they found to meet their goals.

    Get More for Your Money: Proven Tips for Thrift from a Single Income Family by Trish Garvis,

Reprinted with permission from

the HSLDA website—