Homeschool Planning for Parents & Teens

Homeschooling is a big job!  If you’re trying to be mom, wife, housekeeper, chauffeur, and teacher…you’re going to tucker out quickly.  Homeschool planning can help you start off on the right foot! 

Remember this, you can be flexible and creative with your schedule.  There are as many different ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families.  Also, your home is not a school, and you don’t have to re-create school, so don’t be afraid to do what works for you!

Homeschool Planning: Getting Started

You’ve heard the phrase, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Some folks may think they don’t need a planner (I’m guessing these folks are under 40), and truthfully, failing to plan may not be quite that bad, but it does mean forgetting important things.  Maybe you’re a tech person, or maybe you prefer pen and ink, but find a planning method that works for you!

Start by outlining the year.  Make a note in each month of birthdays, holidays, vacations, and any planned time off.  This could include upcoming moves, pregnancy due dates, or other big events.  After noting these, make sure you have the minimum number of required school days for your state (usually 180). 

While you’re planning, include some field trips.  If you like routine, maybe plan a specific day each month (eg, third Friday), or you can just wing it!  Also be sure to leave some blank spaces – days for catching up, following bunny trails, and for those #LifeHappens moments.

Homeschool Planning: Choosing a Groove

Now that you have an idea of what your calendar year looks like, decide what rhythm you want the school year to have. 

  • Do you want to follow a traditional school schedule, mimicking the public school calendar of August through June, with similar breaks?  This might be a good option if your children have cousins or friends that they want to see on school breaks.
  • Do you want to school year-round, spreading out the work at a relaxed pace and taking time off regularly?
  • Do you want to have a four-day school week, leaving one day each week free for field trips, appointments, and playdates?  This can be a good option if you need to schedule regular appointments, as you’ll know you always have this day of the week free.

When you’re making your plan for the year, you’ll want to put in scheduled appointments and schedule out the first few weeks of school work, but don’t plan too far in advance.  Why?  Because life happens.  You might need to adjust the class work load, adding more or relaxing it, depending on your student’s progress.  No need for you to waste time planning every single day of school when it will change.

Each month, reevaluate where your student is and plan out schoolwork for the next month around the appointments, field trips, and blank spaces.  Oh ya.  And write in pencil.  Because things change.  When it comes to planning, we follow the Robinson’s advice with curriculum lessons and just, “Keep Moving Forward.” 

For older students – in middle and high school – it’s never too early to help them start their own planning as well.  This teaches personal responsibility and time management.  Check out the Five Best Planners for Teens to find an option perfect for your teen. 

Homeschool Planning: Ages & Stages

Depending on the age of your student, you’ll need to plan a little more or a little less.  In general, the younger the child, the laxer you can be.

Birth to Age 3

This age is about learning through play.  Life skills, motor skills, and language development are the primary goals.

Preschool and Kindergarten

While children should still be focusing on learning through play, there can be a slight switch to academic goals.  Learning letters, numbers, sounds, how to print their name are the primary goals.

Elementary School

There is still some learning through play, but more focus on academic goals.  This is the time to decide what type of curriculum you want to use – classical, traditional, unit studies, Charlotte Mason, etc – and be sure to cover reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as introductory science and social studies.  Follow your student’s interests and curiosities!

Learn more about types of curriculum here 

Middle School

This is when students really begin to buckle down in academics, becoming more intentional about learning.  Classes become more difficult, electives are added into the day, and students begin to think about career options for down the road.  Students become more independent and start taking more responsibility for their learning at this age, too.

High School

Start with the end in sight.  Have an idea of what your child might like to do after graduation, and plan courses around this.  Classes are divided into core subjects (science, math, language arts, history) and elective classes.  Don’t forget to plan for standardized testing if college is a possibility.  Internships, hands-on projects, and volunteer hours should all be recorded, too.

Find more specialized advice and inspiration for a variety of lifestyles and challenges in the Homeschooling the Upper Grades series.  If you are confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated by the thought of tackling homeschool planning in the high school years, Sparks Academy offers academic advising and college planning assistance.

Homeschool Planning: Outside of School

Meal Planning

You may not consider meal planning part of homeschooling planning, but it’s really important!  Without having a plan in place for dinner, it’s suddenly five o’clock and you have nothing thawed out.  This leads to a lot of take out, going out to eat, and stressed, hungry family members.

Consider your weekly schedule when meal planning.  If Tuesdays are a full, busy day with evening activities, plan a freezer meal.  Or make a large meal on Monday and serve the leftovers the next day.  Save those time-consuming family favorites for days that are more flexible.

Freezer meals and slow cooking are two easy methods for getting healthy dinners on the table every night AND doing so while saving money.  Try these simple meal ideas to help you get started!

Take a Deep Breath

You have everything in place to have a wonderful homeschool year!  But don’t forget to attend to yourself, too.  Homeschool moms are notorious for wearing twenty hats at once!  We go and go and go and go until we just can’t do it anymore…it’s called burnout. 

Plan a few ‘blank spaces’ and Moms’ Night Outs in that yearly calendar.  Pick up an encouraging book specifically for homeschooling mamas.

homeschool coffee

Most Commonly Asked Homeschooling Questions…Answered!

new homeschooler

Can I just pull my child out of school?  Is that even legal?

The short answer is, yes, you can pull them out and it’s legal.  But each state has different laws, but HSLDA knows all of them.  If you’re planning to homeschool, joining HSLDA is a must, no matter which state you reside in, because they’ve got your back. 

How do I get started?

Homeschooling can be expensive if you don’t put some thought into it at the beginning.  {See The Costs of Homeschooling.}  The first thing you should do, especially if you are pulling kids out of public school, is to plan for an adjustment period.  You might hear this referred to as ‘deschooling.’  This will give you time to take some notes and make a plan, but it also gives your student(s) time to transition.  (The longer they were in public school, the longer this may take.)  This is when your child comes to realize that the days of being lectured and provided answers have passed, and it is now time to be more proactive and take some responsibility for their learning.  Trust me…they’ll come to appreciate this.

Deschooling also gives your family a chance to find a new rhythm.  Remember when everyone had to pull their kids out of school, without warning, during COVID?  People were overwhelmed.  Their lives were being turned on a dime.  This transitional time allows you to get past the “argh!  We’re together all. the. time.” phase and into a more family-oriented groove.  I’m not gonna lie…it can be hard for some families, particularly those who are accustomed to running all the time.  But you’ll get there.

Deschooling, however, doesn’t mean watching tv and playing video games every day.  This is a chance to re-ignite that natural passion for learning.  Take up a craft or art project.  Read some books.  Get outside.  Take field trips.  This is a chance to get back to the basics of learning.

Tips for Transitioning to Home-School

  • Keep a routine as best you can.  Set up a daily schedule that includes work, rest, and play. 
  • Try to regulate screen time.  This may be difficult if classes are being held online, but try anyway.
  • Be patient with yourself and others.
  • Be willing to learn alongside your kids.  You might find you enjoy the lessons!
  • If you are working from home, be willing to check in on your kids every 20-30 minutes to be sure they are doing their classes.

One fantastic option for families just starting out is called SchoolhouseTeachers. .. 

  • One family membership covers all the kids…whether there are two or twelve…and everything you need to homeschool every subject for every grade!
  • There are varied course options, including streaming, interactive, and downloadable.  We personally (here in rural-ville) tend toward the downloadable ones, but I know many families would rather have streaming.

If you’re not a member of SchoolhouseTeachers yet, this is an AMAZING time to check it out! You’ll get two years for the price of one, plus extra goodies, when you sign up for an Ultimate (PreK–12) Annual Membership

Use promo code: SHARK20 right now and receive the low rate of $179 for TWO years—only $89.50/yr! You’ll also receive a FREE canvas tote and PRINT back issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine (tote color and magazine issue will vary, no refunds)Every subject. Every grade. Every student.

But how am I supposed to get it all done in a day?

First-time homeschoolers generally try to replicate public school at home.  It’s what they know, and it’s familiar.  Trust me…many mommas have gone down this road before!

Learning to re-frame the day, however, is the first step toward homeschool freedom.  When you understand and accept that there is considerable learning value is almost everything you do, it relaxes your attitude toward school…which transfers to your students and makes for a more enjoyable experience.

How to re-frame?

  • First, learn the lingo.  
  • Does your child understand something?  Wonderful!  They have ‘comprehension.’  
  • If you quiz your child on his ABCs, does he know them?  Great!  He just passed an ‘assessment.’
  • Second, master documentation.

Say your elementary student spent two hours outside, skipping rope, playing with sidewalk chalk, catching bugs and examining them, and making leaf prints.  That’s physical education, art (or handwriting, depending on what was drawn), science, and nature study!

Baking cookies together as part of holiday preparations?  This activity has math (measurement and time), chemistry, reading, home economics, and nutrition lessons!

We’re not suggesting that everyday consist of this type of schooling, though there are families who do ascribe to this theory – it’s called Unschooling, and you can learn more about it here.  

The point is that each day doesn’t need to consist of books, papers, and pencils to ensure that learning is happening.  When children are excited about something, they’re sure to learn and retain more!

What do I do about my special needs child? 

This is a subject that’s near and dear to the Homeschool House leadership, as each and every one of us has at least one special needs child.  You’ll find several articles on our blog about this subject.  Here are just a few….

Uh….planning.  Is that really necessary?

In a word, yes.  Benjamin Franklin once said,’ Failing to plan is planning to fail.’  What that means is that you need to have some idea of goals before you start teaching.  Is college a goal?  What about learning to read by the end of the year?  Different ages require different goals.

Some parents plan an entire year in advance.  Others plan for the month, or the week, while some just plan for the day.  How you choose to plan is going to be largely dependent on your preferences.

Me?  I’m a planner.  But I don’t like planning long-term because things are always changing (hello…COVID, anyone?).  After many years of homeschooling, our family has found that planning for the week ahead works perfectly for us.  Even then, there are some weeks when things change and the planning book gets marked up.  Life happens.

Some people do their planning online, while others prefer to use a paper planning book.  As part of the planning, you’ll review what’s coming up in each curricula subject, make sure you have materials and library books on-hand, and take into consideration any upcoming appointments during the school day.

If you’re planning for an entire month, plan to sit down for about a full day to lay out exactly what needs to be done. If you’re planning for a week at a time, prepare to spend about an hour laying out the week’s work.  Some people (no finger pointing at one of our Shack leaders J ) prefer to write down at the end of the day what was accomplished….no planning required and her book is never marked up with changes!  Again….personal preferences.

Planning a Bit Easier

There are some curricula that take all of the planning out the mix.  A World of Adventure, BookShark, Sonlight, My Father’s World…these are all curricula that provide the planning sheets for you.  It’s open and go…just make sure that you have any materials on-hand for art or science lessons (they’ll tell you what you need).  If you’re just starting your homeschool journey, and very anxious about planning and making sure that everything is covered, you might start out with something like this.

How on earth do I homeschool multiple ages at once??

Whether you have two children or eight, homeschooling multiple children is a juggling act.  One of the best things that you can do is have some ‘schooling together time’ so that there is a set time when everyone comes together as a unit.

Teach Together

With children of about the same age – up to four years apart – you can teach some of the subjects simultaneously.  Curricula such as The Good & the Beautiful, Gather ‘Round, BookShark, or A World of Adventure lend themselves toward this type of family-style teaching, with cohesive read-alouds and teaching time while each student gets an age-appropriate workbook.

Read-aloud time doesn’t have to mean that all the children are lined up neatly and politely on the couch!  Legos, coloring books, and other quiet play toys are a great way to keep little (or not-so-little) hands occupied during this time.  Discuss the reading as a family at the end of each session.

Unit Studies

Similar to the curricula cited above, unit studies allow your entire family to work together on one topic, with each student researching or studying at their own level.  After a family trip to the aquarium and some study-together time, a toddler might color a page about seahorses, while a high schooler might do a research paper on the same topic.  Together, all of the students could complete a science experiment, play a game, and do art projects.

Individual Subjects

While it’s easier to combine history and literature, subjects such as math and science need to be a bit more age-specific once students hit middle school.  Again, if they are only a couple of years apart, students could still study together.  Middle school, however, is when students begin to work independently, so this is a good opportunity to give them some of that freedom.  For many families, math is the one that requires each student to have different, grade-appropriate lessons, and tends to take the most of mom’s time.  An outside course, such as the Saxon Dive CDs, can really help here!

What curriculum do I need?

Choosing the right curriculum for your family means first determining your family’s homeschooling style.  Some families are strictly one style, while others prefer a blend of styles.  Within the leadership of the Book Shack, we cover nearly every style imaginable…so if you ever have questions, just ask, and one of us will be glad to assist you. You can also check out reviews!

Your family might try out one style and find that it’s not for you.  It may take a few years to settle down into the right fit for your family, and that’s completely normal.  When contacting the Book Shack for assistance, however, it helps us to help you if you know your family’s preferred style.  

What style is best for your family?

  • When choosing a style (and there’s a good chance you’ll change as your children grow), consider these questions…
  • What’s your teaching style?
  • What are your goals?
  • How do your kids learn best?
  • What values do you want to instill in your children?
  • What’s your lifestyle?  Do you prefer routine or flexibility?


To the Overnight Homeschooler…

free homeschool plan

There are five of us here at the Homeschool House. DeeDee and Erin are our ‘people-people,’ while Nicole, Jennie, and myself do a lot of the behind the scenes work. It takes all hands, each with a different strength, to make it work!

Tonight, though, I want to write you from my own voice. My name is Yvie, and I run the website for the Homeschool House. If there’s been a tech glitch…well, it’s probably my fault. My apologies!

One of my sisters and her husband are active duty Coast Guard. They also have two young children who, until this week, were in day care and school. Like so many other families around the nation and world, they’ve found their lives suddenly turned upside down and have become overnight homeschoolers.

I sat down during the early part of this week and helped come up with a plan to help them educate the kids / keep them occupied so that she can continue to work from home at the same time. I’m making these same plans available to other families as well, in the hopes of alleviating stress for other families in the same situation.

Why? Well, because what I’ve heard from her several times this week is that she’s overwhelmed. So many companies and people are trying to be helpful, but it’s all just too much, too fast. I’m figuring there are a lot of parents out there in the same boat.

Hey lil sis…

I know you’ve gotten emails and seen social media posts about all these free homeschooling conventions online that teach you how to homeschool. Those are good, and I know a lot of the folks talking at them. If you had the time, I’d say go for it….but after talking to you for five minutes earlier, I also know this is out of the question.

Yes, you’re overwhelmed. Do you remember when we first pulled the kids out of school? No? Well, it was a lot like this….only we had planned for it. But there were still growing pains as we found a new not-public-school groove. Not if, but when, you need someone to vent to for a minute….you know the number!

SO. Here’s what you’re gonna do. First, you take a deep breath. Ok, good. Now take another one. Go make a half-caf, too, to sip on while we go over this. Give me twenty minutes and you can be on your way. Ten if I talk like you! (She talks really fast.)

Second, put a lock on that pantry. The girls will eat you out of house and home before you know it now that y’all are home all the time. I am so not kidding…ask any of your homeschooling friends from gymnastics or scouts.

Third, print out that list of classes I just sent you. It has a chart for each kid, with the core classes plus some electives. I know your time is crazy-busy, so I’ve picked out ones that will be easy for them to use and require the least amount of assistance from you. You’ll still need to check in and look over their work every so often, but it won’t require full-time one-on-one. (Readers – you can access that list here.)

Totally FREE Resources (yes, we’ve used them all, mostly when the boys were younger)

  • www.Starfall.com – Reading & spelling for elementary school
  • www.SpellingCity.com – spelling for any grade
  • www.ABCMouse.com – preschool and elementary school learning games
  • Use this Scribd resource for accessing books to read aloud together or for novel / unit studies.  Also use your local library’s download service (Hoopla, Overdrive)
  • LitWits.com is offering FREE fun studies.  Use 17READ4FUN at checkout to get one free.  These are good for ‘Fun Fridays’ or any other day when you just feel like snuggling on the couch and doing nothing.
  • Lots of articles, for any specific question/need you have
  • Occupational Therapy At Home
  • Speech Therapy At Home
  • If you just want to try out the SchoolhouseTeachers thing before committing, you can get the first month for only a dollar with code ONEDOLLAR.  Sign up for the month to month and just cancel once the school year is over (unless I can convince you to come to the dark side!!!)

I love you! It’s going to be a long couple of weeks as you find your new groove, but we’ve been through worse, and I know you’ll look back on this time and be glad you got to bake cardamom bread, catch bugs outside, start a garden, and enjoy the time with the kids….even if you did it all while juggling your base job. HUGS!!!

New Homeschool House Request Procedures (nope, didn’t send her this part of the letter! I mean, she’d just call anyway…LOL)

For families who are wanting to use this as a jumping off point into homeschooling, the Homeschool House has amended its request procedures. Find out how you can easily request books and curriculum.

We’re all in this together. Some of us have been doing it a lot longer, but you know what? We all started out the same way. The only difference was that we had a little more time to get our ducks in a row….and some of us are still doing that. Got a question? Reach out and ask for help! You’ve got this, mama! Take care, stay healthy, and give hugs! ~Yvie

When we first started homeschooling, there were days I wanted to pull my hair out. My mom liked to tell me, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!” In honor of her support (she has always been a great ear), we’re going to take 50% off everything in our store through April 15th! Use code TIEAKNOT.

2020 Ultimate List of Homeschool Conventions {USA}

2020 homeschool conventions

We’ve compiled the ultimate list of 2020 homeschool conventions, along with a planner to help you organize your weekend and keep track of workshops and vendors! 

If you are a convention organizer, or just know of one that should be on this list, please send us a quick note and we’ll add it!

Teach Them Diligently attendees — Use coupon code Mission10 for $10 off registration!

Alabama

Teach Them Diligently  – Rogers – May 7-9, 2020*

Alaska

APHEA Convention – Anchorage –  March 27-28, 2020
IDEA Curriculum Fair – Soldotna – April 28, 2020
IDEA Curriculum Fair – Anchorage – April 30-May 1, 2020
IDEA Curriculum Fair – Fairbanks – May 4-5, 2020
IDEA Curriculum Fair – Juneau – May 7, 2020

Arizona

EESA Convention – Phoenix, AZ – June 12-13, 2020
AFHE Convention – Phoenix – July 10-11, 2020

Arkansas

Teach Them Diligently  – Rogers – March 26-28, 2020*

California
HSC Conference – San Jose – August 6-9, 2020
CHN Family Expo – Garden Grove – May 7-10, 2020
VHE Convention – Modesto – July 24 & 25, 2020
Great Homeschool Convention  – Ontario – June 18-20, 2020

Colorado

Teach Them Diligently – Denver – May 21-23, 2020*
CHEC Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference – Denver – June 25-27, 2020
Unschoolers’ Platform Conference – Colorado Springs – February 23-27, 2020

Florida

FPEA Convention – Orlando – May 24, 2020
Great Homeschool Convention  – Jacksonville – June 25-27, 2020

Georgia

Teach Them Diligently  – Athens – June 11-13, 2020*
Homeschooling for Excellence – Atlanta – July 23, 2020
SE Homeschool Expo – Atlanta – July 24-25, 2020

Idaho

CHOIS Convention – Nampa – June 5 – 6, 2020

Illinois

APACHE Homeschool Convention – Edwards – March 27-28, 2020
Illinois Christian Home Educators State Convention – Naperville – May 28-31, 2020

Indiana

Homeschool Day at the Capitol – Indianapolis – January 13, 2020
IAHE Convention – Indianapolis – March 27-28, 2020

Iowa

Homeschool Iowa – West Des Moines –  June 11-13, 2020

Kansas

Midwest Parent Educators Convention – Kansas City – April 3-4, 2020
Wichita Homeschool Convention – Wichita – May 15-16, 2020

Kentucky

Homeschool Conference of East Kentucky – Pikeville

Memoria Press Conference – Louisville – July 6 & 7, 2020

Maine

Central Maine Homeschool Expo – Bangor – April 21, 2020
Homeschoolers of Maine Annual Convention – Rockport – March 19-21, 2020

Michigan

Information Network for Christian Homeschoolers – Lansing – May 15-16, 2020

Minnesota

Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference – St. Paul – May 29-30, 2020

Missouri

Midwest Parent Educators – Kansas City, MO – April 3-4, 2020
Great Homeschool Convention  – St. Charles – March 26-28, 2020

Nebraska

NCHEA Conference and Curriculum Fair – March 6-7, 2020

New Mexico

CAPE Convention – Albuquerque – June 19-20, 2020

New Jersey

New Jersey Renaissance Faire – Columbus – May 28-29, 2020

New York

Great Homeschool Convention  – Rochester, NY – July 30 – August 1, 2020

North Carolina

Autodidactic Radical Gathering of Homeschoolers – Spruce Pine – May 3-7, 2020
NCHE Thrive Conference – Winston-Salem – May 28-30, 2020

North Dakota

NDHSA Home Educators Convention – Jamestown – March 5-7, 2020

Ohio

Great Homeschool Convention  – Cincinnati – March 26-28, 2020
Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering – Sanduski – May 24th-28th, 2020
Teach Them Diligently  – Columbus – May 28-30, 2020*

Oklahoma

OCHEC Convention – Oklahoma city – 
Tulsa Homeschool Expo – Tulsa –

Oregon

Oregon Christian Home Education Network – Portland – June 19-20, 2020

Pennsylvania

CHAP Homeschool Convention – Lancaster – June 12-13, 2020

South Carolina

Great Homeschool Convention  – Greenville – March 19-21, 2020

South Dakota

SECHE Conference – Sioux Falls – May 8-9, 2020

Tennessee

Teach Them Diligently  – Nashville – February 27-29, 2020*

Texas

Great Homeschool Convention – Ft. Worth – March 12-14, 2020
Texas Unschoolers Conference – Waller – April 16-18, 2020
THSC Convention and Family Conference – Allen – April 30-May 2, 2020
THSC Convention and Family Conference – The Woodlands – May 28-30, 2020
Teach Them Diligently  – Waco – April 2-4, 2020*
Texas Home Educators Convention – The Woodlands – August 7-8, 2020

Utah

Latter-Day Saints Conference – Ogden – May 27-28, 2020
The Good & the Beautiful – Lehi –

Virginia

VaHomeschoolers Conference & Curriculum Fair – Glen Allen – March 20-21, 2020
HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention – Richmond – June 11-13, 2020
Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool & Parent Conferences – Fredericksburg, – June 19-20, 2020

West Virginia

CHEWV Homeschooling 101 –

Washington

LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference – Vancouver – May 21-25, 2020
Washington Homeschool Organization Convention – Tacoma- June 26-27, 2020

Wyoming

Homeschoolers of Wyoming – Cheyenne – May 14-16, 2020

** Teach Them Diligently attendees — Use coupon code Mission10 for $10 off registration!**

Tips on Choosing a Homeschool Convention

Some questions to consider include:

  • Are there any speakers that you really want to see?  (Research some of the ones you don’t know and you might locate a gem.)
  • Is there child care or an activity available?  If not, are children allowed in the presentations?
  • Will there be a vendor hall or used curriculum sale?  (You can usually get great deals here!)
  • Does the total price (tickets, transportation, and hotel) fit in your budget?
  • Is it religious or secular?  Does that fit with your beliefs?

We’ve put together a convention planner to help you organize your weekend and keep track of workshops and vendors. Take this FREE 20-page convention planner to your next event! Also pick up the FREE What Your Child Should Know…. checklist while you’re there…

Why to Attend a Homeschool Convention + FREE Planner

With everything becoming connected online, is there really any reason to physically attend a homeschool convention? After all, that comes with the added expense of travel, and then you can’t just shop online in your pajamas…

There’s just no substitute for community and face-to-face contact, and a homeschool convention offers benefits that you won’t find anywhere else!

Finding Your Tribe
I can’t prove it, but maybe the reason homeschool conventions begin in early spring is because they know we’ve been cooped up all winter, and most families are suffering from ‘February Fever.’ We have to break out, find other homeschooling families, and shake off winter!

An Ounce of Encouragement
It can be lonely homeschooling, whether you live in a big city or a rural area. Getting into a crowd of people who have made similar life choices can be affirming. Plus, you’ll be able to bounce ideas off of others, get new ideas, and remember that we’re all in this together.

Teach Them Diligently

Information from the Source
It’s one thing to read a book. It’s another to actually sit down and talk with the author and get personalized information. You can actually do that at conventions! Reap the benefits and wisdom of experienced homeschoolers. You can do this in the vendor hall, in a one-on-one setting, walking around the hotel (but be mindful of their limited free time), or within the workshops themselves.

Workshop Paths
Many conventions these days are creating ‘paths’ of workshops, meaning they have a series for new homeschoolers, those with special needs children, and those preparing for college. You’re not confined to those workshops, but by following the path that fits your family best, you have a pre-set schedule that will allow you to maximize what you learn from these experienced speakers. Oftentimes, there are special discounts offered within the workshops, too! J

Curriculum Discounts
The exhibit hall is packed full of vendors offering fantastic discounts on their curriculum. There are usually some pretty nice extras to supplement the curriculum that you won’t find anywhere else, too! If you’re in the market for something new, you can actually flip through and examine various selections, talk to the publishers (or authors) about them, and make a well-informed decision for your family. You can maximize your time by looking ahead to see which vendors will be represented and make a note to visit their booths. (There’s a page for this in the convention planner!)

It’s a Family Affair
There seem to be two types of convention-goers….those who take the whole family, and those who make it a girls’ weekend. (Having done both, my preference falls toward the latter…everybody needs to cut loose with friends sometimes, right?!) If you take the whole family, though, you’ll have a (typically) rare opportunity to get Dad involved. 

Usually the dads are off working full-time so that moms can stay home and homeschool.   Both parents care about education, but Mom is the one fully-entrenched. Taking Dad to a convention will give him a different perspective, and new appreciation, for the daily grind of homeschooling. As for the littles, there is usually some sort of day camp set up for them to enjoy time with other kids while Mom and Dad get some one-on-one time to either attend workshops or go sleep in the hotel room…

We’ve put together a convention planner to help you organize your weekend and keep track of workshops and vendors. Take this FREE 20-page convention planner to your next event! Also pick up the FREE What Your Child Should Know…. checklist.

Tips on Choosing a Homeschool Conference

Some questions to consider include:

  • Are there any speakers that you really want to see?  (Research some of the ones you don’t know and you might locate a gem.)
  • Is there child care or an activity available?  If not, are children allowed in the presentations?
  • Will there be a vendor hall or used curriculum sale?  (You can usually get great deals here!)
  • Does the total price (tickets, transportation, and hotel) fit in your budget?
  • Is it religious or secular?  Does that fit with your beliefs?

Join the Homeschool House crew in Rogers, Arkansas!

Teach Them Diligently 2020 Homeschool Convention Registration is now open.

The Costs of Homeschooling

The Costs of Homeschooling

One of the hidden costs of homeschooling is time.  It takes a lot of time and focus to properly homeschool, which makes working a full-time job difficult.  There are, however, many homeschooling moms (or dads) that work part-time or seasonal jobs.

HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) estimates that homeschooling families spend approximately $300 to $600 per year, per child, on educational needs.  This can really add up!  There are ways, however, to save money…

Curriculum

The biggest chunk of change you’ll notice right away is the cost of curriculum.  There are so many different types of curricula out there that we recommend doing a little bit of investigation before investing money into one. 

If you have access to one, attending a homeschool convention is an excellent way to get your hands on several types of curricula, flip through the pages, and see which ones will or won’t work for your family.  Personally, when we started homeschooling, my husband and I started ruling out which ones we didn’t like for our family, as that helped narrow down the shortlist to about six that we wanted to check into further.

You can check curriculum websites for samples, often full-module downloads to try out you’re your family.  If you’re near Oklahoma, you can come by the Book Shack and take home some different types of curricula to try.   Mardels or a used bookstore are also good options for this, though you won’t be able to take them home (free) to try out with the kids.

If you choose curriculum carefully, you should be able to reuse it for subsequent children or resell it.  For example, we use Saxon Math and only had to purchase each textbook once.  We purchased one student book for each child to use (and could have had them write on notebook paper, but student books aren’t that expensive, and it was easier for the kids to write in the books).

Co-ops, Classes & Extracurricular Activities

Foreign language, homeschool band, physical education, debate classes – these are things that work best when taught in a group setting, and are often covered in cooperative settings…but that costs money.  It is, however, cheaper than weekly lessons!

For some families, especially at the high school level, science or math classes get outsourced to a ‘real teacher.’  Not everyone feels comfortable teaching at those advanced levels, particularly for a child who is preparing to attend college.

All of these expenses cost money, but should be included in the homeschooling budget, because they are a necessary part of education.

Field Trips

When we were roadschooling, nearly 90% of our homeschool budget went toward field trips.  After all, if you’re only going to be visiting a place once, you make the most of it, right?

We still spend money on field trips each year because experiential learning is a fantastic way to cement concepts and foster a love of learning!  There are many options for frugal and free field trips if you just dig a bit. 

  • Follow your local museums on Facebook, and you’ll see when they post free days for educators, homeschoolers, families, or just the general public. 
  • Visit the fire station, police station, or town mayor for a lesson in civics and emergency management. 
  • Visit a local factory to learn “how it’s made.”  
  • Take a step back, and look at your area like a tourist.  What nooks and crannies have you yet to explore?  Many of these small places are free or frugal!

Experience is Valuable

Most new homeschooling families spend more money than experienced ones.  This is partly due to needing to purchase curriculum and all of the materials upfront (whereas more experienced ones tend to have leftovers on hand, or purchase in bulk during back-to-school sales). 

Another pitfall is purchasing several different types of curriculum.  Sometimes things don’t work out as intended; sometimes they’re just not a good fit for your family.  Many times, new homeschoolers aren’t ‘in’ on where to get curriculum at a reduced price.

Finding those Resources

  • The Book Shack – The upstairs ministry of Homeschool House, the Book Shack has been providing families with FREE curricula and materials since 1999 (originally named the Book Samaritan).  Find out more about requesting materials, or visiting, here.
  • Bibliomania – This homeschool consignment store is one of the Book Shack’s biggest supporters, and we love to support them, too!  They have a walk-in store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where you can come and visit with the proprietors and thumb through all kinds of curricula.  They also have an online store at Amazon.  You can also call the store directly, or private message through Facebook, and have the option to pay with Paypal or credit card over the phone.
  • ChristianBook – If you hit ChristianBook at the right time (sign up for the email list, and they’ll tell you when this is), you can get curricula at deep discounts.  They also have books, craft kids, home décor and stuff for adults, and (my favorite!) “surprise boxes” — $100+ in books for only 9.99. 
  • Amazon – Not surprisingly, since they sell everything but the kitchen sink (actually, the probably sell those, too!), Amazon is a great resource for finding books, supplies, science kits, craft kits, and even curricula…sometimes at cheaper costs since you can buy them from a third-party vendor.
  • SchoolhouseTeachers.com – This online resource offers all core classes, plus several electives, for every grade level…up to adult learners!  Use code TRIAL to get the first month for only $5. By doing so, you’ll have an automatic, ongoing monthly discount but also will get your first MONTH as a member for only $5. If you don’t love it, just cancel it after the first month and all you will have lost is a skinny latte.  Find out more about ST here.