Homeschool Like a Pro! (10 Steps)

child reading the dictionary
Wondering how to be an effective home educator?

Don’t know where to start with homeschooling, but want to be successful without the learning curve? Veteran homeschool parents hold the secrets. I’ve studied their methods, now I want to let you in on the secrets that will have you homeschooling like a pro.

How to homeschool like a pro?

  1. Establish why you are homeschooling.
  2. Understand your state’s requirements.
  3. Explore what education looks like to you.
  4. Write down your homeschool end goals.
  5. Discover your teaching needs.
  6. Understand your child’s learning needs and style.
  7. Create or purchase curriculum or courses.
  8. Find out-of-the home learning experiences.
  9. Create a learning plan.
  10. Stay consistent with progress.

These were the steps that made my homeschool experience successful. I’m blessed to have had such a successful entry into the world of homeschooling. In the remainder of this article, I will detail step-by-step how you too can be successful in your first year.

Your Why and Building Confidence

Personally, I feel like everyone has a story that touches your heart when you ask why they chose to homeschool. For me, it was that my daughter wasn’t able to be successful in public school due to the way her school was trained to work with struggling readers. Homeschooling allowed us to regain her love of learning and advance her forward in reading fluency without following plans than were produced for the masses.

In addition, I was able to customize my son’s learning plan to fast track him pass the content he already knew. We didn’t have to stay at his grade level. His talents and ability dictated his learning level not his age. Overall, by taking charge of my kids’ learning I was able to advance them and customized their learning for their success.

Know your why! It has helped me when I’m exhausted or frustrated. I truly felt that learning at home was the best for my kids and because of this others’ opinions or occasional personal doubt doesn’t detour me. It’s like getting married. You know why your spouse is the one and therefore divorce is never an option. You don’t put it on the table. The same for homeschooling. Your why should be strong enough that quitting and outside queries don’t waiver your commitment. Because trust me they are coming.

Can your why be met in another way. For me the answer was no. I could have signed my daughter up for an expensive learning program and put my son in an expensive private school, but I did not. It still wasn’t the kind of personalized education I wanted them to experience. I had faith in myself. I believed that this was a task that I could take on and conquer. It didn’t start off that way, years before I started to homeschool I considered and passed. It wasn’t my time. So, here are some tips for every parent to build confidence in their ability to educate their kids:

  • Watch other homeschooling families day in the life videos. See their routines and methods. Think of how these would work with you and your child’s needs.
  • Read books about the psychology of learning. How do we learn? How do our brains work to receive, process, and output knowledge?
  • If your child is behind in an area such as reading, start reading books from experts on children with reading difficulties. There is so much research out there. Find an expert in the area that your child is having difficulty and immerse yourself in their content. You don’t have to buy their products. You can research deeper into the terms and methods they are talking about. For instance, for my daughter, I notice there was a lot of talk about visual phonics. So, my research led me down that rabbit hole. This is the time to go down the rabbit holes.

State Requirements

Every state is able to regulate homeschooling. There are several states that have no regulations and others that have requirements you need to know. The purpose of this section is to make you aware of the types of limitation you may see within a state’s homeschooling regulation.

  • requirements for parent or private tutor education
  • attendance days and sometimes how many hours are required per school day
  • subjects taught
  • required subject content
  • how to withdraw your child from school
  • portfolio of school work
  • required testing
  • filing progress reports

Don’t let this scare you. There are ways to still have your homeschool fix within these restrictions, be successful, and have fun learning. Just make yourself aware so when it’s time for you to plan out your homeschool you can plan accordingly.

Homeschool Overview

Everyone has a picture in their head of what an educated version of their child looks like. Take some time to discover what that looks like to you. These will be the element you develop within your homeschool. For me, educated is a person who can compete with their peers on Core Subjects and use their knowledge base along with their critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems.

With that description, you can see why rigor and staying close to common core standards within realistic limits are important to me. Because of my understanding of how we learn I understand steady progress is better than speady wins. So, putting all of that together I create my view of what education looks like for me.

Take some time and develop your vision of what effective at-home learning looks like to you. Write it down and store it for the future.

Homeschool End Goal

So, what is your end goal. Where is this journey going to take you? Does it set a good foundation for re-entry into public school for Middle School? Does it go through high school, graduate your child, and prepare them for career goals? Is it a temporary solution? You know your season and now you know your why. So, take some time and brainstorm your end goals.

These goals will help you later to determine if a product or program is for your homeschool. You will have lots of great opportunities, but these goals will help us sort through what is important. These are also important for helping you to plan and pick courses.

Utilize your homeschool end goal and homeschool overview to develop your at-home learning philosophy. It is also the answer to questions family and friends will ask you about why you homeschool or if it’s right for you (wink).

I am a firm believer in knowing what my goal is for everything I do. Staying focused on the finish line will help you reach it. Anytime I make a discussion about where something is necessary or if I’m doing enough I go back and look at my end goal. Does this put me on a path to meet my goal by the time I set out to do so?

Teaching Needs

As parents we spend a lot of time thinking about our kids needs when it comes to learning at home but rarely consider our own needs. I will tell you now that it is often the teacher’s needs that hinders the facilitation of learning. So, let’s explore your teaching needs.

In the section, “Your Why, Building Confidence”. We talked about building confidence and knowledge and how to do this. Our kids don’t need the smartest parents, but they do need parent educators who are confident in their ability to teach. So, what do I mean? I know that I don’t know everything, but I’m confident that I can figure out most things and teach them to my kids even if I have to delegate the teaching in that area. It is that attitude that makes me fearless when educating my kids. Take time to build your teaching confidence.

If you are a working parent, you have a major need for work time. As a home educator your need it to fix a schedule where your kids can learn while you work or learn while you are not working. You have to consider what works best for you. Here is what you should consider when trying to determine when to work and when to school.

  • Your kids’ ability to complete school work without your help.
  • The activities (school and non-school related) your kids can do to occupy while you are working.
  • Childcare options for while you work.
  • Understanding how flexible your work schedule can be.
  • Understand when you and your kids are the most alert. This is the best time to introduce new content or harder subjects.

Once you understand these options, you simply fit your work and school schedule together like a puzzle. There are 24 hours in a day and you need atleast 8 hours of sleep. You have 16 hours to organize a work and school scheduled. A schedule that works is important to your success. Don’t get bogged down in when society says you should wake up, school, or work.

In addition to schooling at the right time, here are some other tips I have for teaching needs:

  • Having patience – Make sure that you aren’t giving your kids your stress. The truth is not many people learn concepts the first time they are introduced to new material. So, you should function under the pretense that learning takes time and you just have to find the right delivery and be repetitive for it to take effect. Plus I would also like to add that when we are stress our kids freeze up. They become so worried about getting into trouble they can’t focus. Your goal as a teacher is to make sure your child is in the mindset to learn and feed their brain.
  • Be adventurous – Learning is an adventure game. I have found that my kids learn sooo much more by thinking they are on an adventure. A hunt for information.
  • Be flexible – Learning at home can be flexible. When your plans take longer than expected don’t get discouraged. The next day, come back and start where you stop. Don’t just start over for the day. Continue where you ended the day before.

Learning Styles and Kids’ Needs

Learning styles are important because they help you understand how to deliver information to your child. This delivery method will make sure that information is received in a way they can process it. It’s like a love language, great gestures are just great. But customized gestures are effective. So, do you want to have a great delivery or do you want to be effective in teaching?

Here is what you need to know about the different learning styles:

Aural learner – If your child is an aural learner they learn through hearing and rhythm. You may choose to use lectures, music, creative rhymes, videos, read aloud, and discussions to deliver information.

Logical Learner – If your child is a logical learner they learn through patterns, challenges, and making the dots match. You may choose to use projects with procedures and processes to deliver information to this learner.

Physical Learner – If your child is a physical learner they learn through doing (all senses). This is a learner that you want to use exploring, investigation, and hands-on projects to deliver information.

Social Learner – If your child is a social learner they learn through interaction with others. You may choose to use social outings, group learning sessions, and outsourced classes for this type of learner. It doesn’t have to be for the entire learning experience. But maybe you schedule a class for each major topic.

Solitary learner – If your child is a solitary learner they learn best by themselves. You may choose to allow this child time alone with their assignments. They truly need alone time to process information.

Verbal learner – If your child is a verbal learner they learn through talking and writing. I love this type of learner. They work well with creative writing and reports. Discussions are also great for these learners.

Visual Learner – If your child is a visual learner they learn through visual representations of the information. You may choose to use images, videos, and maps to deliver information. Do not lecture this student unless there is an intense visual demonstration to go with it.


Now that we have talked about kids’ learning style lets focus a little on their learning atmosphere needs. One of the major reasons veteran homeschoolers push deschooling is because most people coming from traditional learning environments have a one way view of how kids learn. When we say deschool most parents reject this idea because they think deschooling means to sit around and doing nothing. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. To deschool means to allow your mind to reframe the idea of what it means to learn.

Let’s think about this for a moment. In public school, common core math is a big topic. Now, this math seemed uber multi-stepped for me. So, the big question is, is it necessary? Well, there is a lot of argument there and we won’t go there. Here is the take away I want you to get: When our kids grow up and get a job they won’t care if they can solve math problems the common core way. The concern is can you solve the problem for accuracy and can you use critical thinking. This makes teaching math operations a lot simpler. This goes back to what is the goal and how to get there for my child.

So, take time to think about how you can best deschool. In every subject there is reading and grammar practice. You can build skills in language art by doing fun things like: writing stories, poems, letters to friends or family. Shape your child’s learning atmosphere around the things they like.

If your child is really into dinosaurs you can create a whole unit for Math, Reading/Language Arts, Social Studies and Science all around dinosaurs. Everything from reading dinosaur books, writing a stories about the day in the life of a dinosaurs, researching plants from the dinosaur age and much more.

Location, Location, Location

Learning can happen anywhere. We are homeschoolers but we homeschool everywhere. You don’t have to confined yourself to the house. Get out into the world and explore it. Put a blanket on the grass and enjoy writing while watching the butterflies fly. Go to museum. Studies show the more we interact with information and see it first hand the more likely we are to retain that knowledge.

School doesn’t have to look like sitting, getting instruction, and completing worksheets. In fact, more learning occurs when we experience. Your goal as a home educator is to expose, expose, and develop healthy learning skills.

Stay Consistent to Your Learning Plan

Let’s first discuss how to make a learning plan. I will say there were 3 things I did before creating a learning plan. The first was to understand the content per grade taught in public school. My goal was to make sure that my child could stand tall with any student her age but also have freedom and flexibility in learning. School districts have their curriculum content per grade listed for the public. These goals are generally listed as skills and knowledge standards by subject.

I read through these for all grades to get a feel of what type of content my daughter needed to learn for elementary. You will notice I didn’t say for the grade she was in. I wanted to know what our end goal was for the bracket of education she was in.

The second thing I did was assess where she was in each subject. You don’t need an expensive test to evaluate your child. You just need to start doing work and talking to them and you will see where they are. Can they do addition, subtraction, and so on? How long does it take them? Does their process seem simple enough to be consistent and workable? Are they struggling through the work?

For my daughter, it was that she would get the right answer but didn’t know what she is doing. So, I knew we needed to focus on number sense and mixed word problems versus worksheets with one type of operation number problem. Once you have assessed, you have enough information to create your starting point in each subject and your ending point (based on the standards of knowledge you will be using).

Next, I create a flow chart per grade of all the skills and knowledge I wanted to cover each subject. So, when it came time to plan the school year out per grade I created activities, explorations, and assignments around those topics.

So, how do you create the activities? The easy way to do this is look at one skill at a time and use what you know about how your child learns and create activities around this. So for instance, my son needs to learn to count to 50. So, we count daily. We dance and count. He gets the pointer and count on our number line. He watches videos with counting. We use objects and count. It’s that simple.

Here is a trick I use to obtain new skill. Introduce, practice, expose, practice, and review. This means I will introduce a new skill in a meanful way that appeals to their learning style. Then they will practice the skill. I will then expose them to real world usage of the skill. Next, they will practice some more. Finally, we come back to review after we’ve moved on.

A great way to stay consistent is:

  1. Having a plan
  2. Daily revisiting your plan
  3. When you feel like you are off track: evaluate your plan and make adjustments if needed.
  4. Find ways to tie your other endeavors into your learning goals. This way you are always moving forward.

JaLes is a homeschool teacher. She has studied human behavior, child development, and psychology of learning. She is successful at planning, writing, and creating successful learning materials. She is a co-administrator of a Texas homeschool co-op where she teaches students ranging from Pre K- high school-aged. Learn More: