Step by Step Homeschooling

     by Shannon Bellamy


Here are a few things that can help get you started

Feel free to contact me with questions as you may have: [email protected]

I am Shannon Bellamy and I live in the Memphis, TN area. I will gladly help you!

Step 1: STOP!

Stop buying stuff. Stop joining groups. Stop signing up for classes. Stop, for just a minute

Now, you may only need to stop for just a moment as you get passed the crazy idea of homeschooling and make a real plan on how this is going to go. Or, for those who have children who have experienced trauma or parents who have themselves experienced trauma, this may mean stopping for a few weeks or even a whole semester.

Trauma families: Research Deschooling

Your family (no matter the grade) might benefit from a season of Breathing. Take a moment to get your feet back under you. Read books out loud and alone. Go to the zoo once a week or more. Go to every museum you can get to and afford. Bake together. Learn how to sew, change oil, build a bird house… All of that is learning! Traditional learning can be started when everyone is ready to learn.

Unschooling works for many families (more on that later)

Step 2: Philosophy

Many of you are pulling your kids from traditional schools quickly for very personal reasons. Now take a moment to gather as a family and decide; What is your goal? What do you want for your child’s educational time?

A few ideas to get you started:

  • We want our children have a real love of learning

  • We want better academics than our local school can offer

  • We want to protect and strengthen the health and wellness of my children – this can be in the areas of Physical health, especially during Covid, Spiritual health, or Mental health.

Every family is unique, with unique goals and purposes. Knowing yours from the beginning allows you to not get caught up in the newest or most popular curricula and/or programs. You may end up buying lots of things that will never be used to their fullest.

Step 3: Umbrella Schools

This is the organization that will keep your records, such as grades, school plan, and attendance. We have several here in the Memphis area. Every Chapter of THEA has a list of Umbrella Schools working with home schoolers to make their homeschooling legal, so check with your THEA Chapter. The chapters are geographically based across TN. Many of the Umbrella programs register and work with homeschoolers all across TN. While each Chapter will have different Umbrella programs within their geographic area. Find the links to the websites of each chapter on the THEA web site.

Among the most popular in the Memphis area are:

  • Homelife Academy- minimal involvement with a strong staff of knowledgeable homeschoolers

  • Gateway Christian Schools- the least amount of involvement. Also has strong staff

  • Faith Heritage- heavier involvement, required yearly testing, strong and knowledgeable staff

  • The Farm School- minimal involvement, all online (I am not well acquainted with this group)

Each of these Umbrella programs with their contact information can be found on the internet with a Google search for their name.

If you wish to give your local public school your notice of intent - The local school systems have requirements in place. You can call your local Board of Education and they will connect you with the person who works with homeschool families in your area. Here’s this website:

As an aside- If you choose to use K-12 free online program – you are technically enrolled in nan online public school and not technically homeschooling and will not need an umbrella school as you will still be enrolled in a state school.

Step 4: Learning/Teaching style and Motivation

Learning Style: Does your child learn best hearing instructions (lecture)

  • Visual Learner: Does your child learn best seeing something demonstrated (reading, seeing pictures or diagrams drawn on the board)

  • Kinesthetic Learner: Does your child learn best touching and building (doing an experiment/building blocks for math)

  • Auditory Learner: Does your child learn best verbally (retelling you the story or re-teaching you the lesson)

Teaching Styles:

  • Do you like reading books with your children?

  • Do you like cooking and baking with your kids?

  • Do you like telling your kids new information and discussing that new material?

  • Do you like filling in the blanks? Or finishing puzzles?

All of these questions will allow you to better determine if a particular program will work with you and your student.

Let’s talk about Motivation- how do we get your kids to do their work?

One thing you should research is your child’s Love language. Each of us feels love and shows love in certain ways. There is a great book (religious) and many online quizzes (secular) you can take to help with this.

5 Love Languages:

  • Giving & receiving gifts

  • Touch, hugs and snuggles

  • Words of Affirmation

  • Time spent together, Focused attention

  • Acts of Service

Your child’s best Motivation in their learning can parallel their Love Language


Step 5: Curriculum Styles

So many ways of doing this thing called homeschool- which one best fits your family’s goals and purpose?

Unschool- everything is school. Every activity is full of learning. Literature and Experience Learning is the biggest part of this. Child led learning.

Unit studies- Programs to look at:


  • Learning Language Arts through Literature

Classical- I could tell you all the technical words and theories with this- but I am going to go with a simpler explanation. Younger students learn through nature studies and memory work. Lots of hands on and real books. Middle learners use what they have memorized and start putting the puzzle of knowledge together. Older learners use what they have learned to reason it out through the use of philosophy studies, debate and personal presentations.

Classical programs to look at:

  • Veritas

  • Sunlight

  • Classical Conversations

Traditional- bring school home. Also called school in a box. This will look like the school you went to as a child.

Programs to look at:

  • Abeka

  • Bob Jones

  • Singapore

Eclectic- Here is where a lot of moms can get too much going on. Just remember to choose what works for you. With eclectic schooling you can use some of a lot of different approaches. You will find each child learns differently and needs different curriculums. Many of the programs used by this group are integrated with each other. One subject is the “spine” and we learn other things from that. EX: history as a spine for learning what science was at this time, writing assignments for this time, ….

Programs to look at:

  • Apologia Sciences

  • Math U See

  • Mystery of History

  • Story of the World

  • Homeschool in the Woods

  • Guest Hallow

  • Notgrass (history)

Charlotte Mason- Short (15-45 min) learning times followed by Nature walks and Journaling. Observe- memorize- Narrate. Biographies.

Programs to look at:

  • My Father’s World

Montessori- Child led learning. Teachers set up learning opportunities with little direct instruction. Real books.

Programs to look at: I do not have adequate knowledge of this style of home schooling, but Google Montessori for information and access to materials

Step 6: Co-op or Tutorials

These are two very different things and meet different needs. Tutorials use tutors to teach your student a particular subject in a class once or twice a week with homework assignments to be completed with you at home. You choose what classes best fit for your yours and your student’s needs. You can have a tutorial for all your classes.

Co-ops are not all the same. All Co-ops are set up with parents teaching in exchange for their participation. Usually as a member you teach/lead/help in one class as your children participate in 4-6 classes that other parents lead. Some are elective co-ops- art, music, drama, yearbooks… and others are full Core Co-ops- usually covering History, Science, Math, English…or whatever the group decides.

Check out the THEA Chapters across Tennessee on the THEA web site,, for a listing of these chapters, their websites and Facebook pages.

If you live in the Memphis area, I recommend you take a look at the Memphis Area Home Education Association, MHEA, website at This is the THEA Chapter for the Memphis area. Also check out the Facebook group Memphis Area Homechool Buzz for a link to a list of area Tutorials and Co-ops

Step 7: Schedule vs Routine

Some will need a strict and set schedule. Others will need a routine that starts and stops at fluid times and yet still gets everything done. This obviously has a lot to do with your family’s personality, habits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Do you have to do every subject every day- No! Some kids will need to, while others do better to focus in depth on one subject a day. While others do math and language arts, including reading every day, and other subjects, such as history and science 2 – 3 days per week. Include art and music, too. Adapt your schedule to what works for your family and your children.

According to National standards:

K-2nd grade- 3hrs of focused learning a day

3rd-5th grade- 4hrs of focused learning a day

6th-8th grade- 30 min per subject per day

9th-12th grade- 1hr per subject per day

You can do this! Here are a few links that may be of help. ************************************************************