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What Is Homeschooling And How Do I Begin?

Amanda Schenkenberger empowers homeschool moms to calm the chaos and confidently homeschool. Leveraging her experience as a homeschooled individual and mother of four, she helps families build strong bonds and achieve rigorous academics through her Homeschool Family Legacy programs.

Executive Contributor Amanda Schenkenberger

Back when I was a girl, meeting new people often led to a perplexing exchange. When asked where I went to school, my answer always seemed to throw them off. "I'm homeschooled," I would say. After a moment of confusion, they'd invariably respond with, "But you’re not weird," almost as if it were a question. “Thank you?” I would answer. How else should a little girl answer that?

Photo of a young boy being homeschooled by his mother in his bedroom

Fast forward twenty years, and I still enjoy challenging paradigms and living unconventionally. Today, I continue to puzzle people, but for different reasons. When I'm at the grocery store with my four boys, someone inevitably comments, "Wow, you’ve got your hands full." With a smile, I reply, "They're pretty great, and I homeschool them." I then pause for dramatic effect and add, "And I work too."


By this time, they're usually speechless, and I walk away giggling to myself. It’s a fun, fulfilling life I have, homeschooling my children. Honestly, it's a dream come true, and I wish everyone could experience it, like savoring a good cup of coffee or high-quality chocolate—it's deeply satisfying.


If you're curious about the wonderful world of homeschooling and considering starting this journey, I want to paint a clear picture for you. Let's explore what homeschooling could look like for your family, dispel some common myths, and outline a roadmap to help you begin.


What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is an educational approach where parents choose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to traditional public or private schools. Imagine being in the pilot’s seat of your child’s education journey—guiding them as they grow, and eventually, as they gain independence, they move into the co-pilot position. One day, they’ll become the pilot, and you’ll be the proud passenger along for the ride.


When done well, homeschooling can be incredibly effective in raising well-rounded adults who know who they are, what they want to do, and have the motivation to achieve it. How does it work? Homeschooling offers a customized learning experience tailored to each child’s individual needs, interests, and pace. Parents act as primary educators, blending structured curriculum with real-world learning opportunities.


True homeschooling involves creating a personalized learning environment that addresses the unique needs and interests of your child. It's about fostering an environment where children can thrive, explore their passions, and develop a lifelong love for learning that goes beyond the confines of a traditional classroom.


It may sound cliché, but the world truly becomes our classroom. From the birth of a family member to the death of a squirrel on the roadside, every moment is a learning opportunity. Homeschooling is the only fully customizable education option available, and it's driven by the people who love the child the most—the parents. Where else can a child receive such a uniquely tailored education?


While this paints a beautiful and true picture of homeschooling, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. We face conflicts and challenges, which I’ll mention. But first, let’s clear the air: many misconceptions exist about what homeschooling truly is. So, what are some common myths about homeschooling? Let's dive in and debunk them.


What isn’t homeschooling?

If you had children in public or private school during 2020, what you experienced was not homeschooling. That was CRISIS schooling, and it was a world away from what we homeschooling families experienced.


I almost feel guilty sharing about our 2020 homeschooling journey because while so many were overwhelmed, anxious, and dealing with trauma and loss, we were having the time of our lives.


My youngest was just 5 months old when the lockdowns hit, and I had been longing for more time at home with him. Our lives were busy with work, church, and co-op activities. When everything closed down, we found our rhythm. My two oldest sons handled their formal learning mostly independently, my 3-year-old began learning to read, and I got to snuggle and nurse my baby in peace, not on the go.


My boys thrived, leaping ahead of their peers, blissfully unaware of the turmoil that other children in America faced. Because we were already homeschooling, we were set up for success, and succeed we did.


Please understand that what you faced during the lockdowns was not homeschooling. When everyone is stressed, scrambling to figure out what’s going on, and experiencing inner and outer chaos, that is not homeschooling. What we had was bliss.


True homeschooling is enjoyable, freeing, and fun. It puts you in the driver’s seat. If your child does online public or private school at home, that is also not homeschooling. You are not the primary teacher. You are not deciding on which curriculum will be best for them. You are not in the driver’s seat.


There is nothing inherently wrong with these choices; they are simply not homeschooling even though your child is at home. There is a gray area when we choose to outsource certain subjects as a homeschool family. For example, I am not the primary teacher for math or science. However, I have chosen the curriculum that they will be using.


When I do not get to pick what my child is learning, or where they are learning, or at what pace they are learning it, it is no longer homeschooling. I am the boss when it comes to homeschooling. I have the final say, and I like it that way.


What about socialization?

If I had a dollar every time I was asked this question, I’d have enough money to take a Disneyland vacation. Socialization is often the biggest concern for those unfamiliar with homeschooling, but it's a myth that homeschooled kids are isolated. In reality, they often have richer social lives because their social interactions aren’t limited to a classroom of same-age peers.


Homeschooled children interact with people of all ages and backgrounds through co-ops, sports teams, music lessons, volunteer work, and community activities. They learn to communicate effectively, adapt to different social situations, and build relationships based on shared interests rather than mere proximity.


Moreover, homeschooling allows for deeper, more meaningful social interactions. Instead of navigating the sometimes harsh social environment of a traditional school, homeschooled kids form strong bonds with family members and peers who share their passions and values.


So, if socialization is your concern, rest assured that homeschooling provides a diverse, enriching, and well-rounded social experience that equips children with the skills they need to thrive in the real world.


But I’m not a teacher

Actually, you are. You’ve been your child's first and most important teacher from day one. You taught them how to eat with a spoon, tie their shoes, say "please" and "thank you," and how to navigate the world with curiosity and confidence. These crucial life skills weren’t learned in a classroom; they were learned through your patience, guidance, and love.


Think about it—who taught your child to dress themselves, recognize their colors, count their fingers, and buckle their seatbelt? You did. You've been there for every milestone, big and small, imparting wisdom and knowledge with every step. If you can handle potty training and getting through the "why" phase, you can handle homeschooling.


Homeschooling isn't about being a certified teacher; it's about being a dedicated parent who knows their child better than anyone else. With a wealth of resources, from online classes to co-ops and educational communities, you're not alone on this journey. You don't need a degree in education to create a nurturing, stimulating, and effective learning environment. You've got this.

I don’t have the patience

Homeschooling isn’t about having endless patience; it's about creating a learning environment that works for your family. Think about all the ways you’ve already taught your child like I mentioned before: these everyday lessons required patience, persistence, and love. Anyone who has potty trained their child knows this for sure! Homeschooling is just an extension of what you’ve been doing all along.


If you’ve ever navigated a toddler tantrum in a grocery store, survived a sleepless night with a newborn, or negotiated bedtime with a five-year-old who suddenly needs a glass of water, a snack, and one more story, you’ve got more patience than you realize.


Sure, there will be moments of frustration. There will be days when the math problems seem impossible, or when your child’s energy seems boundless while yours is running low (I can introduce you to some good coffee if you like). But there will also be countless opportunities for growth, connection, and those “aha” moments that make it all worthwhile. The joy of watching your child grasp a new concept, the freedom to explore topics they’re passionate about and see the sparkles of learning in their eyes, and the ability to tailor their education to their unique needs are rewards that far outweigh the challenges. And oh, the wonderful memories you’ll make together!


Remember, you're not striving for perfection—you're aiming for progress, and that’s a journey worth taking. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to take breaks when needed, to change the pace, and to find creative ways to make learning enjoyable. And in the process, you'll find that your patience, like any other skill, grows with practice and experience. So, don’t let the fear of lacking patience hold you back.


How do I begin homeschooling?

Starting the homeschooling journey can feel like stepping into the unknown (cue Elsa’s song from Frozen 2), but it's one of the most rewarding decisions you can make for your family. I remember when we made the choice to homeschool our kids; it felt like diving into a world of endless possibilities and overwhelming uncertainties, and I had been homeschooled!


Even though I had a great experience homeschooling and knew what I wanted to create with my own children, I made all the same mistakes new homeschool moms are making. I bought a big box curriculum because I didn’t feel qualified. I overscheduled us because I didn’t want my kids to miss out or “be weird”. I brought anxiety and stress into our home by trying to check all the boxes instead of investing in our connection and habit formation. Looking back, I don’t feel like I had much of an advantage as a second generation homeschooler.

To save you time and some headaches, I have created a few steps to help you begin your homeschooling adventure with clarity and confidence.


Don’t start here

Like many of us, when in doubt, we turn to Google. However, I strongly advise against starting your homeschool quest for information with a Google search. You'll be hit with an avalanche of information, far too much to take in at once, and you'll likely overwhelm yourself. As with most industries, you’ll encounter ads, conflicting information, and get lost down the rabbit hole. Save yourself the stress and avoid starting with a Google search.


Additionally, do not begin by searching for a curriculum. Many well-meaning new homeschooling parents start their journey by researching what will help them teach their children, rather than how to teach them. Homeschooling requires a significant shift in perspective from the traditional education model, which focuses on teaching children what to think. Homeschooling, on the other hand, is about teaching children how to think. It’s far more important to concentrate on how to teach than on what to teach.


The 4 best places to start your roadmap

So, if I don’t suggest starting with Google or a curriculum search, where do I suggest beginning? Let’s ease into our roadmap with the most comfortable place to start: your local homeschooling friends. Find a mom who has been homeschooling for a while, loves her children, and perhaps is leading something in the homeschool community. Invite her and her children over for a playdate. Let her know that you are genuinely interested in pursuing homeschooling, and she will be thrilled to share her insights with you.


Your next step is to research the homeschooling laws of your state. Did you know that every state has different laws regarding homeschooling? Visit HSLDA’s website to find out what the laws are in your state because they vary widely! For example, I’m in Oregon, where I have to submit a letter of intent to homeschool once and get my children tested at certain grade levels. However, in many states, you have to track attendance or hours, keep a portfolio of their work, teach certain subjects, and sometimes even meet with an educational professional.


The third step is to get clear on your schedule. Will you continue to work? Will you be a

stay-at-home parent? Will you have an in-law help you? Do you need to find a more flexible job so that you can work from home and homeschool? There are many questions to consider about your schedule that will drastically influence how you homeschool and what curriculum you choose.


As a work-from-home homeschool mom, I need flexible hours, an easy-to-use curriculum, and some educational computer games to keep the children occupied so that I can work. This is why

it is critical to consider your schedule even before looking at curriculum because you might fall in love with something that is unrealistic for you to use due to time constraints.


Misconceptions about homeschooling

Your final step is overcoming any misconceptions you, your spouse or partner, or even friends and family might have about homeschooling. While it isn’t your job to "convince" everyone that homeschooling is the right choice for your family, some well-placed statistics can help break down common myths.


The first question I always face is, “What about socialization?” Harvard released a study in 2021 that showed homeschoolers are happy, well-adjusted, and engaged. They volunteer more than their public-schooled peers and are more forgiving. Homeschoolers even have lower risks of alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and suicide.


I like to say that homeschooling is an amplifier. It will amplify whatever dynamics you have in your home, whether good or bad. So, if your family already has its quirks, homeschooling isn’t going to fix that. But if you’re a normal, well-adjusted family, there’s no reason to assume your children will turn out differently.


Another myth is, “But you’re not a teacher. How can you expect to give your children as good an education as someone with an educational degree?” This is a fair question, but it assumes that all you need for a good education is a degree. Does the environment, class sizes, or tailored curriculum have anything to do with a quality education? What about character development? At home, you clearly have the advantage, and that shows academically too.


According to an analysis by the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschooled students outperform those attending traditional schools 78% of the time. Turns out, you don’t need an educational degree to provide a solid education.


A common concern is how homeschooling affects a child’s chance at getting into college and graduating. While this is a fair question for high school students, I often hear it from parents of kindergarteners. However, to address this, Ivy Scholars states that homeschooled students with achievements and test scores on par with traditional applicants are accepted at approximately the same rate by colleges.


Regarding graduation rates, a study led by Michael Cogan at the University of St. Thomas revealed that homeschooled students graduated from college at a rate of 66.7%, which is 10% higher than students from public schools. Once again, homeschooling proves to be a strong educational choice.


Now that we've debunked some common misconceptions, are you feeling ready to begin this journey?


Let’s connect! Road trips are better together

Now that you’re considering homeschooling, let’s talk about your best next steps. No matter where you are on this journey, I can help you create a solid game plan to make homeschooling a reality for your family. With my Easy Button Christian Homeschool Program and my 20 years of experience, I can help you get set up for homeschooling in 30 days or less. Schedule your free homeschool consultation.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Read more from Amanda Schenkenberger


Amanda Schenkenberger, Homeschool Coach

Amanda Schenkenberger is a dedicated homeschool coach and mother of four boys, leveraging her personal experience as a former homeschooled individual to empower other moms. Through her Homeschool Family Legacy programs, Amanda helps families transform chaos into confidence, fostering strong bonds and academic excellence. With a focus on creating supportive schedules and nurturing joyful connections, she guides moms in educating curious minds and cultivating courageous spirits. Amanda's mission is to help families experience freedom and fun without compromising their children's futures. Join her community and discover the transformative power of confident homeschooling.





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