How Do I Begin to Homeschool?

Homeschooling can appear overwhelming because of its very newness. But rest assured, you are not alone in this adventure. Catholic Heritage Curricula (CHC) exists to assist those who wish to provide a solid, affordable, Catholic education to their children in a flexible homeschool setting.

You have questions. We have answers.

I think we all ask ourselves, from time to time, if we have what it takes to educate our children. The answer is a resounding “yes,” for God’s grace makes all things possible.

Rita Munn, a veteran homeschooling mother of ten, expresses it this way:

If the Lord has called you into this journey His peace will settle your heart and calm your spirit when challenges present themselves. A very wise homeschooling mother once told me, “If homeschooling doesn’t work out, then the worst that you have done to your children is spend a year with them giving them your undivided attention and care. Is that so bad?”

Did you teach your child to walk and talk? Did you potty-train your child? Then yes, you are qualified to homeschool! CHC’s texts and workbooks are designed to be “self-teaching,” so you don’t have to be an expert in grammar, history, science, or any other subjects. All you need is knowledge of your children and the desire to nurture their love for learning and their relationship with God.

“Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect,” one veteran homeschooling parent urges. “Teachers are not perfect and neither are we. The choice to homeschool is a privilege and a gift to your child and family.”

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but there are slightly different requirements in each state. In most states, such as Texas and California, you are free to homeschool with very few legal requirements. In a few states, such as New York, homeschooling is more heavily regulated. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is your best resource for knowing what rules to follow in your state. Their site clearly outlines the homeschool laws in each state and how to comply with them.

We’d like to say that CHC is the perfect curriculum, but it wouldn’t be true! There simply isn’t one perfect curriculum. This is because every child and family is unique, so what works for one homeschooler might not work for another homeschooler. Homeschooling parents have to make their own decisions about what curriculum best matches their educational goals and their children’s learning styles.

All this being said, we’ve heard from a lot of families that CHC is one of the best curricula options for new homeschoolers. This is because it combines aspects from different learning styles (full-color textbooks, hands-on projects, engaging stories) and offers a happy medium between structure and freedom. Beginning your homeschooling journey with CHC gives you an opportunity to “learn the ropes” without needing to stress about curriculum choices. Later, you can decide whether to continue with CHC’s full program, use mostly CHC but switch out a few subjects, use a different homeschool provider, or create your own curriculum from scratch. This decision will be much easier once you have a year’s worth of experience of your children’s learning styles and what works for your family.

“When I meet other moms who are where I was before we started, I always recommend you to them. CHC is a soft spot to land.” —Jennifer, CA

Good question! We recommend checking with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association to see if there are particular requirements for your state. Most states either leave it up to the parent to choose what to teach or have very basic requirements. (For instance, Texas only requires math, reading, spelling, grammar, and good citizenship).

Once you have met any requirements in your state, there is no limit to how you can adapt the curriculum. CHC’s grade-level lesson plans make it easy to know what is most essential by distinguishing between core and non-core subjects. Core subjects are the “basic essentials” of education, such as math, grammar, and science. Non-core subjects, such as art, map skills, and music, are optional. You can either follow the lesson plans as they were written or adapt them to your child’s needs and interests. For example, you might decide to substitute a different math program, use a higher or lower level in a particular subject, and omit/add enrichment activities.

Your parish priest will often know of other homeschooling families in your parish. In addition, public libraries are used extensively by homeschoolers; librarians often have contact names and numbers. Your local school district administration offices frequently will have contact information as well. For online support, check out these independent Facebook groups, run by CHC homeschoolers:

Yes! In 2023, CHC staff researched the admission policies of the top 100 colleges and universities in the U.S., including Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. We also researched the U.S. Catholic colleges recognized by The Newman Guide. Every single school, whether secular or Catholic, accepted homeschoolers.

Even better, every single school confirmed that high school transcripts signed by the parent count as “official transcripts” just as much as transcripts from accredited home study schools. This means that it is not necessary to pay expensive tuition fees to an accredited home study school simply in order to get into college.

Accreditation is a voluntary process by which a private organization gives its “stamp of approval” to a school’s teaching standards, safety protocols, financial status, and curriculum. Unfortunately, there are no agreed-upon standards for whether or not a school is granted accreditation. Because of this, the fact that a school is accredited does not mean that its program is academically excellent. Colleges and universities know this, which is why they pay more attention to SAT/ACT test scores and admissions essays than to whether an applicant’s transcript is accredited.

CHC materials are used in accredited schools, but CHC itself is not eligible for accreditation because it is a curriculum provider, not a school. If you are attracted by CHC’s curriculum but feel strongly that you want accreditation, you might consider enrolling in Clonlara School’s Off-Campus Program. Although expensive, enrolling with Clonlara will allow you to use CHC materials with accreditation.

Homeschooling can cost a lot or a little depending on your approach. One of the most expensive options is to enroll your children in an accredited home study program, in which case the cost per child ranges from $400-$1000 per year depending on the child’s age. Besides being expensive, this option also comes with less freedom to adapt the curriculum to your child’s unique interests and skills.

The least expensive option is to pull together your own curriculum using library books and free online resources. With this option, you can probably get by with spending only $50-$100 per student, but you will have to invest a lot of time into planning your curriculum and vetting the resources for secular/Protestant biases.

CHC takes a middle ground by offering:

  • A complete curriculum with daily lesson plans
  • Engaging, up-to-date, Catholic texts and workbooks.
  • Free academic counseling (use our Contact Us form to reach our advisors)
  • Complete freedom to customize the curriculum to fit your child’s needs
  • No tuition or enrollment fees!

When considering the cost of homeschooling, note that some curriculum providers require families to return all books and materials to them at the end of the school year. This is not the case with CHC materials, which are the property of the family. Since textbooks and teacher’s manuals are non-consumable and can be re-used with subsequent children, fewer materials need to be repurchased for the next child in the same grade level. In other words, if one is homeschooling more than one child, costs for subsequent children are quite low.

The Greatest Joys of Homeschooling

From a survey of over 1000 homeschooling parents

More Questions about Homeschooling

Below are more answers to the most important homeschooling questions.

CHC is not a school; therefore, we do not provide grading or record keeping. Grading services require homeschool parents to save and turn in student work to the organization. This record keeping can be burdensome and is not particularly necessary. Instead, many homeschoolers do not assign grades at all. This helps to keep the focus on the joy of learning for its own sake, instead of just studying to achieve a letter grade. You can learn more about the important topic of grading in the article Grading My Children’s Work.

Here is how one veteran homeschooler replies to this question:

“Well, we don’t live in a cave, so my kids interact with people every day. Why would you want your child to act like all the other ‘the world spins around me’ 5-year-olds or pubescent 12-year-olds in public schools? My 12-year-old daughter is mature enough to babysit but young enough not to be goo-goo eyed at boys and still plays with dolls.”

The truth is, homeschooled children have a much wider range of socialization opportunities than public school children. Homeschooled children also have more opportunities to develop friendships with children from families with similar values. You can learn more and get specific socialization ideas in the article Homeschool Socialization.

It’s normal for homeschooling to be challenging in the beginning. For most families, it takes a few months to become acclimated to homeschooling. You can learn more about the adjustments that take place during the first year of homeschooling by reading Rita Munn’s article “Detoxing” from Public School. (The article is just as relevant if your children are coming from parochial school).

Because the transition to homeschooling involves a lot of adjustments, we recommend focusing only on core subjects during your first year of homeschooling and not worrying about non-core subjects like art appreciation. You can learn more about the difference between core and non-core subjects at this link.

When CHC did a survey of the “greatest joys of homeschooling,” the number one response was the joy of “being with my children.”

Of course, if you are not used to spending most of the day with your children, you may find the transition challenging at first. Experienced homeschoolers can testify, however, that spending so much time together makes a huge difference in their relationship with their children. Besides allowing you to truly know your children, homeschooling also gives you a golden opportunity to address any behavioral issues that make your children less pleasant to be around.

If you think that a renewed focus on character-training would be beneficial as you begin homeschooling, you may find the ideas in this article helpful: Discipline: The Five C’s to a Happy Home.

New homeschoolers are often pleasantly surprised to find that their children can get all the work done in half the time it takes in a classroom setting. This is because there are so many distractions and delays in typical classrooms. Learn more about this topic by reading the article How Many Hours Should Homeschooling Take?

This is a challenge that most homeschoolers face! Our number one recommendation is to encourage your children’s independent study skills. CHC’s texts and workbooks are designed to be “self-teaching,” which means that after a brief introduction to the lesson, children can sit down and learn the material independently. This not only frees up time for Mom; it also trains children in a valuable life skill. Here are two articles that address the topic of independent learning:

How to homeschool with regard to independent study
Do you have any thoughts about time management in our homeschool?

A popular solution to the time-management challenge is to use the “schoolhouse method” to teach multiple children of different levels using the same materials. Although this method can work, CHC does not usually recommend it if the children are more than a year apart in ability level. You can learn more about the schoolhouse method by reading The Schoolhouse Method: Homeschooling Multiple Children Together.

We’re glad you asked! Check out Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers for detailed tips from experienced homeschoolers. We’ve also compiled a free list of ideas to help occupy toddlers and preschoolers while you’re working with older students: Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

It really depends on what works best for you. Some families like to school in a separate room, while others find the “kitchen table” model to be the most family-friendly. You can learn more about your options by reading Where in the Home to Homeschool?

First of all, CHC makes it much easier to teach any subject–even ones you’ve never studied–by providing self-teaching texts and workbooks. But if you’re still concerned about jumping into teaching all subjects to your children, here are some ideas.

  • Homeschool co-ops often share teaching responsibilities between parents, allowing a parent who has specialized in chemistry, for example, to teach science classes.
  • You can get tutoring from a local retired teacher who is interested in community service or part-time work.
  • Consider using the DIVE into Math videos that go with Saxon Math, or enroll with Nicole the Math Lady.
  • There are countless homeschool writing classes available online. Or it might be more cost effective to pay a local retired teacher to coach your child in writing.
  • For high school, many homeschoolers take courses at their local community college so that chemistry labs don’t have to be done in the kitchen.

Yes, many homeschool parents have to work part or full time. Here are a few tips to make it easier.

  • Use lesson plans to save time and make sure you don’t miss anything important.
  • Use an open-and-go curriculum like CHC’s so that you don’t have to do time-consuming prep or constantly play catch-up in order to help your children.
  • Focus on developing your children’s independent learning skills.
  • Teach your kids to help with the chores, if they aren’t already (this counts for Home Economics).
  • Talk to other homeschool moms (in person or through social media) to get support.
  • Be flexible! You can do school on the weekend or in the evenings, if this schedule works better for you and your children.

Absolutely! Most special-needs children progress far better at home than outside the home. Individual, one-on-one tutoring, administered by a person with intimate knowledge of the needs of the student and a personal interest in the child, invariably trumps group instruction. You, as the parent, know your child’s strengths and abilities best. You can adapt lessons for your child so that he can learn more efficiently and joyfully. Thus, homeschooling can be the perfect setting for the special-needs child.

Some states have additional regulations for homeschooling a child with special needs, so you’ll want to check those out. We recommend going to the website of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and typing “Special Education Provisions for [Your State]” into the search bar.

Still Have Questions?

If we haven’t answered your questions above, you can explore our FAQs and Mom-to-Mom Support articles where we answer a wider range of questions. Or feel free to reach out to us directly through our Contact Us page.

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