How to Start Homeschooling in Texas

So you’ve decided to pull the proverbial trigger and keep that kiddo at home.

now what?

Allow panic to set in because WHAT HAVE YOU JUST DONE???? 

Just kidding.

It’s not as hard as it may seem. Let’s demystify the idea of homeschooling for just a moment here. 

step 1.

Know your state's laws

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but some are more highly regulated than others. Some require documentation, some require quarterly reports and umbrella schools, etc. Researching is as easy as “What are the homeschooling laws in [your state]?”

step 2.

Withdraw your child

Starting the homeschooling process in Texas starts with simply informing your child’s current school about your decision to homeschool. If your kiddo is already attending a public or private school, you do need to withdraw them.

Sounds scary and official, but this often just involves writing a withdrawal letter to the school’s principal or superintendent. In your letter, be sure to state that you’re withdrawing your child to homeschool them, but keep in mind that you are not required to disclose your curriculum or educational plan. This is due to Texas law recognizing homeschools as private schools, meaning they are not regulated by the state.

You’ll probably receive some push-back, or feel intimidated. I’ve had friends who felt almost threatened by their school district saying they were required to provide this and that, and report exactly what they were planning on using.

Don’t let that scare you.

Under Texas homeschool laws, NONE of that – zero. zilch – is required. When I made the decision, I played it safe and sent an email AND a certified letter with required signature to my oldest son’s public school to ensure it was received. I didn’t have any issues, and even went back to pick up some of his past school work without any awkwardness. 

step 3.

breathe.

You did it. You’ve been researching and following Facebook groups, and planning in your head what you would do if you ever homeschooled. You are now a homeschool mama! Welcome!

step 4.

select a curriculum

The word “curriculum” is used lightly here. I recommend STARTING with something that can give you a basis, but go into it knowing you may need to adapt and change it the following year, or the following month. You can do a quick Google search of “what does my (insert child’s assumed grade level here) need to know” and start there. But don’t get stuck on that.

Something you’ll learn very quickly in the home educating world is that there is no behind in homeschooling. 

While Texas law requires the curriculum to cover subjects such as

in a bona fide manner, you do have the absolute freedom to choose a teaching approach that suits your child’s learning style and your family’s lifestyle. There are numerous options available, including online courses, traditional textbook-based programs, unit studies, project-based learning, and unschooling. Many homeschooling families opt for a mix of different methodologies.

I started with an expensive boxed all-done-for-you curriculum my first year because, like most parents starting out, I had NO clue what I was doing and felt inadequate. I just knew I wanted to educate my kiddos at home – somehow. The next year, I switched to a WAY more laid back approach after learning about and doing some deschooling (more about that later). My personality that thrives on structure didn’t like that a whole lot.

The THIRD year, I tried a mixed approach, and I’ve been doing more of that “eclectic” style ever since – although I go into every year with an open mind, based on each child’s needs, and the current circumstances within our family. Going on year six now and it feels easy peasy.

Or easier peasier than the last year at least. 🙂

Research and choose the one that aligns with your educational philosophy and your child’s needs. I promise that SOUNDS daunting, but once you start reading about a few, you’ll start to picture your child and what would work for them.

But I can’t stress this enough – do NOT be afraid to adjust, and re-evaluate as needed.

step 5.

Set up a learning environment

This does not necessarily mean you need a dedicated room for schooling; it could simply be a quiet and comfortable space where your child can focus. We started with a whole “homeschool room” that has evolved into using the kitchen table, and the couch, as needed.

We school on the trampoline, the porch outside, and of course, out in the world. The quiet dedicated space is essentially for any type of bookwork/reading that you find necessary for your child. 

Establish a daily or weekly routine to provide structure (again, using the word lightly), but remain flexible to accommodate the unique flow of home education. Consider integrating real-life experiences into your child’s learning, such as field trips, extracurricular activities, and hands-on projects.

Furthermore, look into joining local homeschooling groups for socialization opportunities (I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz word that everyone’s afraid of) and mutual support with other homeschooling families. With careful planning and preparation, you can smoothly transition to homeschooling in Texas.

step 5.

Just start

Research. Read. Plan. But don’t get stuck on those steps. 

Just start, and you’ll learn alongside your kiddos as you go. Don’t compare your new homeschool to that mom that’s been doing it for years at co-op. I can assure you, she’s got her own struggles, and what worked for her kid last year might have just shifted, too. The only difference is she has learned to adjust without a second thought! Your kid might not find joy in memorizing poetry, but throw some science at them and watch them blossom! Don’t feel ashamed that you spent money on that curriculum that didn’t work out. 

That’s the beauty of home education.

Your homeschool might look completely different because your kids are not her kids, and her kids are not yours. If you can let go of that from the get-go, you’ll be better off and your focus will be on what’s important: your kids and their education that will now be tailored exactly to their likes – and loves and joys and all that comes with raising a well-rounded person. 

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