Homeschooling: Where to start and how to keep going

Homeschooling: Where to start and how to keep going
Written by contributor Jena of Yarns of the Heart

Have you ever felt like this? A reader shared her heart with me recently:

“I am in a desperate search for homeschooling counseling. I grew up in NYC and attended public school all the way through high school. My parents and friends aren’t very acquainted with the day to day concept of homeschooling.

So I find myself lonely and questioning whether I’m doing homeschool the “proper” way and truly second guessing the whole thing.

I’m a mom to an only child and am wondering if there is a certain approach I should consider. My daughter will turn seven in a little over a week and I find she gets bored very easily with her homeschool activities which makes me wonder whether I’m meeting her needs.

However, if I add a more challenging activity, she cries because it’s too hard. I really don’t want her to have a bitter experience with school. I’m afraid she’s building resistance and/or manipulating.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this? I am currently not following any curriculum simply because I’ve no clue where to start. Because of this I feel a bit overwhelmed with the lack of structure and as to what to do, where to start and how to go about the whole matter.”

Here’s what I told her…

Where to Start and How to Keep Going

1. Get involved with other homeschoolers in your area.

They will offer lots of ideas and support. Often local homeschooling families come together weekly and the parents teach classes. If there isn’t anything like this, start your own! It’s something to look forward to and something to work toward each week.

If you don’t want to get involved in weekly teaching, you could join their field trips. Plus you’ll both make friends with people who understand your lifestyle.

2. Print out a copy of The Core Knowledge Sequence (see this post for the link) and look for topics to cover.

It’s a handy, free reference of grade-appropriate school topics and can be a life saver when you don’t know where to start. You could read the list to your child and have her pick what looks interesting, then go to the library and find material.

You can also choose the topics yourself and have the resources available to share with her.

My daughter Meg around 2003, 11 years old

3. Find a school supply store or a teacher store in your area.

They have lots of workbooks for you to browse and find something to work through. This will give you some structure at low cost and commitment. Find a math book, then maybe one other topic to see if she likes working this way.

We always had some sort of workbook that made the kids feel like they were in school and gave me something to assign if things weren’t going great that day.

4. Make your day as structured as you like.

Some families do better with more structure. You could start with an hour a day of scheduled activities, then she could move to reading a book she chose from the library or a book on tape while she draws or paints.

You’re right about not wanting her to be bitter about homeschooling. Finding what she enjoys and gets wrapped up in…that’s the key.

My daughter Melissa (long sleeved stripes) in High School Musical, 2009

5. Sign her up for lessons, community theater, or park district activities (music, art, sports, drama).

Anything that gets her out of the house and with other people will relieve boredom complaints and help her find her interests.

6. Help her start a business or volunteer.

When Melissa was around 10 years old, she started a dog walking service in the neighborhood. Maybe you have elderly neighbor or a friend at church who needs a helper once in awhile.

Further reading:

What advice would you give to this new homeschooler?

About Jena Borah

Jena Borah homeschooled her three children all the way to college. She blogs about her homeschooling years and her interest-led philosophy at Yarns of the Heart.


  1. Here is my best advice for getting started / re-started.
    I also think knowing that NO ONE knows what to do in the beginning helps.
    If you can quiet your mind and trust that voice that is calling you to homeschool your child, you will figure it out. It just takes time. Give yourself that time.
    Good luck!
    sheila’s latest post: Recipe of the Month: October 2013

  2. Hi Jena,
    I like no. 6. I’m always looking for ways to instill and entrepreneurial mindset in my children. Great post. 🙂
    Jenny’s latest post: Daily Homeschool Schedule

  3. I would add, take lots of field trips. Local museums have children’s groups and activities, become a member to get discounts and notices of special events. Go to nature centers and talk to the guides. Get a pair of field glasses and take a sketch book outside. Exploration is a great learning tool at this age, and there is no chance to be bored or overwhelmed. BTW, while I have two daughters, they are 14 years apart in age, so homeschooling my youngest (age 14 now) it has always seemed like she’s an “only child” at home. Being involved in a group has been vitally important. Maybe start a group yourself, based on a common interest. My daughter’s been going to a group called Grace Girls for 5 years now and has formed amazing friendships.

  4. Yeah I had so much trouble with that too because I tried too hard to “do school,” just at home. Once we relaxed and just focused on what she liked, online games, crafts, and reading, it became so much easier.
    Kierstin’s latest post: Homeschooling Day Three

  5. These points are so helpful. I am hoping to homeschool my baby girl when the time comes and face some similar doubts and fears about how to get started and keep going. Homeschooling in the UK doesn’t seem to be quite as popular as in the US and on the small island I live it’s very rare. The points above encourage me though and I look forward to putting them into action when the time comes, thank you!
    Jessica’s latest post: {Be Inspired} Invest in a Woman

  6. Great advice! Many newbie homeschooling parents make the mistake of thinking that homeschooling involves staying at home all the time! But, joining a local theatre group, or a non-profit organization can be a very fun activity.

  7. I feel for this mom. I am also a first generation homeschooler. I often think to myself that if my kids want to homeschool that they will have a huge advantage in beginning. I had NO idea where to start, yet people kept telling me I had such an advantage because I had a degree in education. I think, in some ways, it is actually more difficult because you have to reprogram the way you think about education. You have to realize that school doesn’t really have a “proper” way, but it can be personalized and changed and developed. It’s exciting, overwhelming, scary, and rewarding all at the same time.
    I think you are right about finding other homeschoolers. It has been so encouraging to have another homeschooling mom that I can call, even to tell her it’s just been a hard day and know that she understands. It’s good to share our burdens and pray for each other. I have four kids that I homeschool and I think that sometimes it’s easier to “do school” with more kids than it would be to do the same with one. I might add to make a point to reach out and try to find some other homeschool kids that she could invite over to the house. She needs support and so does her child.
    I also love the business idea. Our kids did that over the summer. They are 10, 7, and 6. They went around to our neighbors and offered to take care of things if they went on vacation.
    I would add one more. If she doesn’t already, find great literature and enjoy it together!
    Erin’s latest post: There IS Something Wrong with Home Schooling

  8. Sonlight curriculum changed our lives! School went from tedious and boring, to my kids not being able to wait to start school. For myself, i used to get SO behind on our everyday work. But sonlight has an incredible Teachers guide that keeps me going everyday, all done for me! And we switch up books and activities everyday, so I and them, never get bored.

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