How to Get Started with Homeschooling - Learning Lab

How to Get Started with Homeschooling


We often meet with families who have decided to homeschool for various reasons but don’t know where to begin. After attending traditional school, figuring out how to homeschool can be a daunting task. Here is some basic information on how to get started.

1. Enroll with a homeschool umbrella.
Just because you have decided to homeschool doesn’t mean you can just get going. Some other entity must be formally responsible for keeping your student’s educational records and submitting your enrollment to the district for which you are zoned. In Tennessee, your student can be registered as a homeschooling student directly with your zoned district. To do this, call your local board of education and ask for the homeschool office. You can also enroll with private homeschool umbrellas or with an online homeschool umbrella. Like any other private school, homeschool umbrellas do have a cost associated with them, and they all vary in price.

2. How do I choose an umbrella program?
All of these options offer varying degrees of support. Typically, your local district offers the least amount of support. In contrast, some umbrellas offer quite a lot of help and guidance to parents. One major advantage of enrolling with a local umbrella is the ability to talk with someone in person, and some umbrellas even offer classes and additional services.

We find it is best to call the office for each potential umbrella, ask what services they offer, and clarify the parental responsibilities. Deciding which umbrella is best for you will depend on your unique situation and how autonomous you want to be as a homeschooling parent.

3. What does homeschooling look like?

This, too, varies greatly and depends on why the family chose to homeschool. Some families order textbooks or workbooks, create the curriculum plans themselves, and have the student work on the material the parent assigns. Some families purchase entire online courses; this approach removes the parent from the responsibility of creating a curriculum. However, online courses are generally very flexible in terms of pacing, and it is very easy for students to fall behind. Therefore, parents must take an active role in making sure work is completed on time and the student is staying on pace.

Some families join groups or tutorials that allow the student to be in a smaller classroom setting. These often meet twice a week, and students are assigned homework to complete in between. As a homeschooling parent, you can decide how the skills will be covered, and that can even be different from class to class.

Ultimately, when you decide to homeschool, take some time to decide what your student’s homeschooling experience is going to look like and what type of role you wish to play. Some parents can comfortably ease into the role of being a full-time teacher, and some cringe at the thought.

With all the resources available, homeschooling does not have to be at your house, and you don’t have to do it all yourself. Homeschooling can be fun, creative, and flexible. Just be sure to do your research before jumping in and find the right homeschool umbrella for you!