It might be a little presumptuous for one individual to write a guide on how to homeschool, but this simple question was asked of me this morning, and so here is my How to Homeschool guide according to me.
1. Find out the rules in your state. It is not that hard to find. You can google "your state name" and "homeschooling", and you will find guides written by your state and/or homeschooling organizations. Some states have very lax homeschool laws, with very little reporting or oversight. Other states want you to become a "private school" which isn't as daunting as it sounds. Still, other states will have you write our education plans for them to approve. This site is a good place to start. You will want more in-depth information on your locality.
2. Read some homeschool books. Relaxed homeschooling, classical homeschooling, unstopping, eclectic homeschooling. There are as many approaches to homeschooling as there are children. You need to decide what fits you and your kids. Most people settle into a hybrid (of the main styles) within a year or two.
3. Meet other homeschoolers and get your kids some playmates. There are homeschool groups online. There are homeschool groups in your community. There are homeschool groups at your local parks and recreation centers. If you see a mom and kids out and about when most kids are in school, ask the question. Do you homeschool? She probably does, and will give you a list of places to check out. That is, if you can't find them online.
4. Read some articles on learning style. You should familiarize yourself with right brain vs. left brain learning. You should learn about creative learner, auditory learners, visual learning and kinesthetic learning. Chances are, if you are taking your kid out of school to homeschool, then they have a learning style that does not fit the traditional auditory type of learning that happens in the classroom.
5. Get started. Withdraw the children from school following the laws of your state. If your child has never been to school, then must make homeschooling a natural extension of what you have been doing. You helped them learn to walk, talk, feed themselves, and maybe even to tie their shoes. What's next? Just keep going.
6. Start off slow. Let the kids sleep for a week or two if they are transitioning from regular school. Start off reading books during this time. Observe sleeping cycles... yours and theirs. Plan to do school work when you are all most alert, energetic, and cooperative at the same time.
7. Choose a curriculum, or individual books and work them into your schedule. You can purchase a book in a box curriculum. You can use a free curriculum online provided by your state. You can also choose to keep it simple and use old fashioned textbooks. You can also purchase similar textbooks to what the public schools are using from Amazon.com. My recommendation is to spend as little money as possible the first year, because chances are, you will change your mind a few times before you settle into a type of curriculum that you like.
8. Farm out stuff you don't understand. Music, sports, drama, engineering, etch. Take advantage of homeschool Co-ops or just regular after school extracurricular programs in your community. Give your kids an outlet that also incorporates something they want or need to learn, so you don't find yourselves cooped up at home all the time.
9. Have fun and enjoy each other. Seriously. This is the most important part of homeschooling. This should be the focus of your first year. If tension builds, stop what you are doing, pile up on the couch or a bed, and read a book. Take an impromptu trip to the Zoo. Do everything in your power to make homeschooling and adventure, and not a punishment.
10. Re-evaluate and don't be afraid to try something new. You will change your mind. You will learn about new things. You will rediscover old things. Don't be afraid to stop what you re doing and trying something new... especially in the lower grades.
*Note: If all that seems daunting and you want to pull them out of school now, you can start with an accredited online school. This can be costly if your state does not provide it, and you may even decide that you don't want to do the state's program, and may choose an independent program which can be costly. But a lot of new homeschoolers start off this way while they educated themselves and prepare to create a more individualized program for their children. On the other hand, some kids thrive in the online programs and stick with them all the way through.