4 Tips for Starting a Successful Homeschool - The Self-Directed Homeschooler

4 Tips for Starting a Successful Homeschool

It was October of 1998.

 My husband had brought the car up to the curb right out in front of the hospital.  As I struggled to get the carseat holding our newborn son, Jarrod, snapped into the middle seat, I remember thinking, “What moron thinks it’s a good idea to let me take this baby home?”


No joke.

I had no idea what to do with him.

I couldn’t imagine this being an ideal scenario for on-the-job training.

And yet, that’s exactly what we got.  My husband and I took our brand-new baby home, and we figured out this parenting thing, one bumbling step at a time.

Nearly five years later, I took on an equally daunting task: homeschooling Jarrod.

This didn’t seem like a great time for another round of on-the-job training.  I mean, I was taking sole responsibility for my son’s education.  The stakes were high if I actually wasn’t up for the job.

Yet, on-the-job training was exactly what I got again.  I took a deep breath and...made lots of mistakes.

Now, contrary to all my fears, none of those mistakes ruined my child.  Coming up on 15 years later, I have successfully graduated Jarrod and am still going with both of his sisters.

The early mistakes I made?  You don’t have to make them because you can learn from mine!  

Here are four tips for starting your successful homeschool:


Hear me here: I’m not talking about having a year of lesson plans scheduled all at once or each day carefully plotted out in half hour chunks.

Hint: I tried that in the beginning.  It didn't work.  

What I am talking about is doing some serious soul-searching and reflection.  Before you begin homeschooling, you should do things like figure out what you believe about education, understand your state laws, and clarify your vision of success as a homeschooler.

Back in 2003, I only knew one family who homeschooled and their kids were teenagers, so I was on my own to figure all this out.  You don’t have to.


Homeschooling is not something you should try to do on your own.  You and your kids will need friends and support.

If you’re in the US, your state should have a state homeschooling association and lots of resources available for finding groups, classes, events, and activities.

Facebook is another excellent place to connect with other homeschoolers.  If my message seems to resonate with you, you can join my group by clicking here.


It’s not enough to just join homeschooling groups.  Since each group has its own culture and you’ll need to find one that feels like home to you.

Fair warning: it may take you some time to find your “tribe”.  That’s okay.  That part of the process can’t be rushed.  Just keep putting yourself out there and listen to your intuition.


Homeschooling could easily consume your entire life.

Don't let it.

You still need to run your household.  Dishes still need to be washed.  Laundry still needs to be folded.  Appointments still need to be kept.

But it doesn't stop there.

You still need to spend time with your significant other, with extended family, and with friends who are important to you.  And at least some of that time should be spent without your kids (or theirs).

You still need your own pursuits as well.  A hobby.  A part-time job.  Books or TV shows that entertain or inform you.

Here's the thing:

  • I don't want to look around at my life after my youngest child reaches adulthood and wonder who that guy I've shared a home with for the last 30 years is.  
  • I don't want to glance at my calendar and realize I don't have any friends to go have lunch with.  
  • I don't want to gaze into the mirror and wonder who I am now that I don't have a child I'm homeschooling anymore.

Do you?

If I don't want to wonder those things in 2027, then I've got to be paying attention to my husband, my friends, and my own personal development all along the way.

The same goes for you.

If you're just starting out, or if you're struggling, the notion of homeschooling might be as daunting to you as bringing my firstborn home from the hospital about 12 hours after he was born was for me.

You might be wondering, "What moron thinks it's a good idea for me to homeschool these kids?"

If you feel called to homeschool, it's a good idea.  Even if you don't feel up for the challenge.

Now, three things:

  1. Hit me up with a comment below about either what's working for you or what's not working so well as you're starting this homeschooling thing or trying to get back on track.
  2. If this article helped you, please share it with someone else who can be blessed by it.
  3. If you’d like more help getting this homeschooling thing figured out, you can claim your free copy of my guide, 5 Steps To Becoming A Confident, Successful Homeschooler, by clicking on the link below.

About the Author Becky

I'm a married, homeschooling mama of three who is passionate about self-directed learning.

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  • Before you buy this booklet, you need to know that I am an unabashed proponent of self-directed learning and that will be reflected in everything I share about my own experiences as a homeschooler.

    I’m giving this disclaimer so you aren’t surprised by the clear bias I have toward unschooling.  

    I want you to know, upfront, what you’re getting and what to expect from me.  The advice I give and the questions I ask you to ask yourself are all valuable and valid no matter what style of homeschooling you ultimately embrace, though.  

  • About the Author

    Becky Ogden has been homeschooling since 2003, and graduated her oldest in the spring of 2017.  In her early years of homeschooling, she too struggled with feeling overwhelmed and inept. In trying to do right by her children, Becky found herself embroiled in battle after battle with them over their schoolwork.  Until…

    Until she found a better way.  One that empowered her children to self-direct their own educations.  One that respected their autonomy. One based in “right on time” rather than “just in case” learning.

    Without many veteran homeschoolers around to serve as mentors, Becky had to muddle through it on her own.  She spent hours of time in research and reflection.

    In the years since then, helping other homeschoolers find their own way and solve their problems has become a source of great joy for her.

    Contact email: becky@selfdirectedhomeschooler.com