when does the homeschool really begin?

Listen in to a group of homeschool moms talk about how long they’ve been homeschooling and you’ll hear answers that might surprise you.

Ask them when you should begin homeschooling your child and you will most definitely get different answers.

But, there are so many reasons a parent might be asking when they should begin homeschooling. So let’s first listen to the parent’s question first.
  • Is there a legal requirement to begin homeschooling at a particular age?
  • You don’t see your child ready to read yet.
  • Other kids your child’s age ARE in school, but you don’t think your child is ready.
  • Your child doesn’t want to leave to gymnastics for an hour without you, so they’re definitely not going to spend a half day away in a school.
  • You began schooling at your child’s age, so shouldn’t your child also be in school, or at least homeschooling?

Of course, you’ll need to check the state or province you live in to determine the legal requirements for your homeschool laws. But I’ll assume you’ve done that.



when does the homeschool begin

If you speak to a group of veteran homeschool moms about how long they’ve been homeschooling, you’ll discover that some have been homeschooling from the beginning, in other words, since their first child was born.

Other homeschool moms will tell you they’ve been homeschooling since they decided to take their child out of school.

And other homeschool moms will say they began at the conventional age of five or six.

And some will say they haven’t yet started anything formal at all, but their kids are still learning.

In other words, these homeschool moms will give you different timelines.

Part of the reason for this is because they have different perspectives on when an education begins.

  • Does it begin from birth when the child learns to hold their head up or roll over?
  • Does it begin when you introduce your child to the big red pencil or a pile of plastic magnetized letters?
  • Does it begin when you respond to your toddler after he asks, “Dat is??” And your answer, “Dat is a dog”.
  • Does it begin when you pull out the 100 Easy Lessons to Teach your Child to Read book?
  • Or when your child asks you to sound out a word?

So what do you think? Are any of these an education?

In order for you to decide, you need to consider:

They’ll all give you peace and perspective in how you homeschool no matter your approach.

I compiled a Homeschool Mama Reading List just for you! These books are ones that have taught me everything that has helped me understand how I think about my homeschool.


It’s you that gets to decide when your homeschool should begin and how to do it.

I’ll tell you why I’ll never completely settle on a homeschool philosophy…I’ve read from opposite ends of the homeschool philosophy spectrum and they all seem to have valid points, valid reasons for understanding children and learning the way they do.

What I used to think they most needed to learn no longer seems important, nor does it seem the most difficult to grasp.

I don’t believe an education is automatic because it includes books, an infusion of knowledge tidbits, or includes a multiple-choice exam.

When you spend most of your time with your children, you realize that what they most need to learn is how to be in the world and how to relate to oneself and others.

And, ooy, this is the least exciting subject for mom to teach (at least for this mom, I’m pointing to me)!

But this learning most certainly doesn’t come in the form of a textbook or a class. And as we all know, relationships are always present, so an education is constant.


“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education”.

Charlotte Mason


So when does an education begin?

The moment they exit the womb…and the lessons continue to until we’re no longer alive (cause I don’t know about you, but at aged 48, I’m still learning).

What do we most need to learn?

  • we need to learn to share,
  • we need to learn to consider the other person,
  • we need to learn to be honest even when there might be a consequence that might affect us,
  • we need to learn to show gentleness even when frustrated,
  • we need to learn to listen when we’re being spoken to,
  • we need to learn to identify our feelings,
  • we need to learn to listen to other’s feelings,
  • we need to learn to address our feelings,
  • and we need to learn to require other’s to be respectful of our feelings.

These lessons set the foundation for our children to take in all the knowledge-based stuff that comes in the form of documentaries, textbooks, courses, exams, and other conventional learning.

What does this learning do?

  • Enables those little ones to relate to each other.
  • To know how to build and maintain friendships.
  • Build healthy marriages and parent children of their own.
  • Teaches them to work hard, to organize, and multi-task.
  • Helps them pursue things fearlessly with independence and initiative.
  • Gives them space to pursue creativity.
  • And it helps them to keep going when things are difficult.

So a real education doesn’t begin at the tender age of five, the preschool age of four, or the official first grade.

A real education begins when a parent determines to engage the child with emotional learning, interpersonal learning, and also knowledge-based learning.


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