Sleeping Queens card game, abacus, plant and books on coffee table in homeschool family home.

Inside: So many parents don’t even try to homeschool because they think they need things you don’t actually need to homeschool. Here are nine things you don’t need to homeschool…and the one thing you absolutely do.

I went to check the mail that day, and what I found sent chills down my spine.

It was a catalogue for a popular homeschool curriculum company – one I didn’t request.

Was this a sign? Did the universe somehow know that just that week I was questioning our decision to send our oldest child to private school for first grade that fall?

The week before I’d sent in our $700 non-refundable deposit. The minute after I’d put it in the mailbox, I’d felt uneasy.

For reasons I couldn’t fully articulate, I wanted to homeschool. But I was extremely insecure about my ability to do so.

I clutched the homeschool curriculum catalogue and slowly walked back to the apartment. I asked my husband if he thought I could homeschool, and he looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes.”

I wasn’t confident AT ALL. But he believed in me and that was enough for me to start homeschooling.

As it turns out, I didn’t need confidence to homeschool after all.

homeschool and simple living books stacked on side table with plant and art in background.

9 Things You Don’t Need to Homeschool (That So Many Think Are Essential)

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That was eight years ago. But now I know the truth: we actually started homeschooling a little over fourteen years ago, when my oldest was born.

Today, our life looks a lot like our homeschool life looked like back then…

  • regular conversation,
  • going to the park,
  • library visits,
  • reading aloud (playing board games came later),
  • watching educational content,
  • and lots and lots of play.

You know – living life together.

My child has been learning since birth. How to walk, and entire language, and cultural norms.

And I’m filling the same role I filled from the start: conversationalist, resource finder, guide, cheerleader and mentor.

So many parents believe that homeschooling is school at home – it’s not! Our homeschool life looks nothing like traditional school, yet my kids are learning every single day.

You might think you need some or all of these things to homeschool, but you actually don’t. I don’t want those assumptions it hold you back from giving homeschooling a chance.

So here are nine things people think you need to homeschool that you actually don’t.

You Might Also Like: What Is Unschooling? 9 Core Beliefs Unschooling Parents Share

1. A Teaching Degree

You do NOT need a teaching degree to homeschool.

In fact, I’ve heard teachers who homeschool say that they’ve actually had to unlearn a lot of what their education degrees taught them in order to homeschool well.

Teaching degrees largely focus on learning how to teach large groups of children effectively.

Think: classroom management, discipline, keeping pace with a curriculum, accommodating a variety of learning styles simultaneously. You won’t need any of those things!

Your child learned how to do SO much just by being with you. Walking, talking (an entire language!), eating, conversation, and more.

Don’t question your ability to teach your child. Question putting your child in a system that left you feeling incapable of teaching your child.

Anonymous, 21 Unique Homeschool Quotes to Inspire You

Children are hard-wired to learn, and they will do it without being explicitly taught (this is a core tenet of unschooling).

Plus, you want to know a secret? I don’t really teach, per se, at least not in the traditional sense that a teacher in school teaches a class.

I do find the appropriate resources to help my kids learn what they want to learn, and I do share information fairly regularly. But just as often, I’m learning right alongside my kids!

(P.S. Many states DO require that you have a high school diploma to homeschool.)

Related: A Former Teacher’s Unschooling Reflections After 11 Years (No Regrets)

2. A Massive Home Library

I see homeschool families with wall to wall bookshelves on Instagram or Tiktok, and I honestly ask myself: why?

Don’t get me wrong – all those books are SO beautiful. They look amazing – drool-worthy even!

But the amount of time all those books are actually being read and used…why not just use the library? The library is free, and it benefits the library to use their services.

Wall to wall bookshelves are in no way a requirement to homeschool.

Read all the reasons why we stopped buying tons of books HERE.

3. Curriculum

We’ve been fully unschooling for the past three years, and even before then, we were homeschooling without curriculum.

Curriculum makes the following assumptions, just to name a few:

  • Learning is linear, and it’s better – even necessary – to learn certain things before others.
  • You need to know certain things to be “educated”.
  • You should make kids learn things they don’t want to learn.

None of those things are actually true. Curriculum can make you feel better as a parent, but you don’t actually need it to give your kids a good education.

Only caveat: sometimes, curriculum can be your “training wheels” in the beginning, to make you feel more comfortable transitioning to life without school.

(P.S. You do need to spend some time thinking about what “a good education” actually means to you.)

Related: Relaxed Homeschooling v. Unschooling – What’s the Difference?

4. A Laminator

You think I jest, but there’s a whole subset of homeschool moms who ADORE their laminators.

And that subset may or may not be taking over Instagram with all the pretty pictures, making you think it’s impossible to homeschool without one.

You really don’t need one. I can’t imagine ever having a use for one!

Save your precious homeschool dollars for museum passes and extracurricular classes – trust me.

(But you might want these basic homeschool supplies, especially if you’re starting with elementary-aged kiddos.)

Woman jumping in the air, with Erin Hanson quote, "But what if I fall? Oh my darling - what if you fly!"

5. Lots of Money

This is highly debatable. I have more thoughts, which I will share in a future post to be titled something like, “Can You REALLY Afford to Homeschool?”

But especially in the beginning, you don’t need a lot of money to homeschool.

Kids under the age of 8 or 9 can THRIVE on…

  • free homeschool groups (we loved Wild & Free groups and homeschool park meet-ups),
  • park days,
  • museums (family memberships are around $10 a month),
  • playing outside and inside,
  • going to the library, and
  • yes, dare I say it, screen time.

When they’re still little, the primary homeschool parent can also work part-time from home (flexible jobs are helpful, but not necessary). OR some homeschool parents work opposite shifts, so they share the homeschool load.

You do need some money, obviously, to ya know, pay the bills. And I do not believe everyone who wants to homeschool can homeschool.

But there are a lot of creative ways parents today are making it work.

Related: How Much Does It Cost to Unschool? Typical Expenses & How to Save

6. A Homeschool Room

You absolutely do not need a homeschool room to homeschool.

We currently have a sort of homeschooly room, and it’s only true value besides storing our extensive educational board game collection and housing my childhood piano is reading aloud away from the rest of the noisy family.

We could achieve the same goal by going into a bedroom and closing the door.

Use your kitchen table, living room, bedrooms, outside – wherever! Homeschool everywhere.

7. Patience & The Ability to Be Around Your Kids All Day

I combined these two because they are related in my mind.

To say I wasn’t a patient person when I started homeschooling is an understatement: I had a very short fuse. I still have moments when frustration gets the better of me, but I am much more patient than when I started out all those years ago.

It took a whole lot of practice and shifting my parenting mindset to get here.

As for being with your kids all day…just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you’ll always be WITH your kids all day. Especially as they get older, they will go off to pursue their own interests or their own homeschool assignments a good chunk of the time.

If your kids were in school prior to homeschooling, you might find that they are much more pleasant to be around all day than in the hours after school, when they release all the emotions and jitters they’ve been bottling up all day.

There are also co-ops and extracurriculars where someone else helps share the load of interaction.

I’m an introvert, and is it a lot some days? Yes. But most days it’s completely doable.

Related: Low Demand Parenting Made Parenting Joyful Again – Here are 7 Demands We Dropped

8. Religion

If you’re a secular family, this is good news: you don’t need religion to homeschool!

I know it can look like that from the outside, but you really don’t. And since the pandemic, the secular homeschool community is growing rapidly.

The primary challenge for secular families is finding a homeschool community that doesn’t exclude you if you’re NOT religious (signing statements of belief – hard pass). If you live rurally, this can be an even bigger challenge, but it can be done.

I know I said you don’t need curriculum. That being said, if you find yourself wanting curriculum, you will likely need to join secular homeschooling Facebook groups for some good recommendations, especially for science and history.

Just be warned: they can have some pretty strong opinions (keyword: opinions) in there about whether or not you can “just skip the religious parts” of homeschool curriculum written from a Christian worldview OR what curriculum is “truly secular”.

Fundamentalism can be found everywhere, not just in religion.

9. Confidence

When I started homeschooling all those years ago, I had next to zero confidence.

I knew that I wanted to homeschool, and it seemed like the best fit for my children at the time. So I followed that calling, desire, leading, whatever you want to call it.

I took it one year at a time. The longer I homeschooled, the more my confidence grew.

If you want to homeschool, if it seems like the best fit for your children, just try. As with any other job, confidence usually comes with time.

two brothers doing baking experiments together at the kitchen table.

The One Thing You DO Need to Homeschool: A Genuine Desire to Homeschool

Occasionally, I’ve come across moms who are trying to homeschool for reasons like…

  • All their mom friends are homeschooling, or
  • Their partner wants them to homeschool, or
  • Their church says homeschooling is best.

None of those reasons are good reasons to homeschool if you, the candidate for primary homeschool parent, don’t want to homeschool.

Maybe you believe homeschooling is the best way to educate your child, or maybe your child is struggling in their current school.

But harsh truth: if you don’t want to homeschool, your child will feel that every single day. And a child being homeschooled by a parent whose heart isn’t in it would probably (though not always) be better off in school.

Not every parent who has a desire to homeschool can. So if you want to homeschool and you can do so, jump in with both feet!

The worst that can happen is the following year – or even mid-year – you realize it’s not a good fit for your child, your family or you.

You can always send your child to school again. Trust me, they’ll happily welcome your child back with open arms (along with those extra federal funding dollars).

So don’t let fear hold you back! You’ll never know if you don’t try.

What if I fall? Oh my darling – but what if you fly?”

Erin Hanson, 21 Inspring Homeschool Quotes

Read Next: How to Start Homeschooling – A Simple Guide for Beginners

Have you been homeschooling for more than a year? What would you add to this list? Share in the comments!


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1 Comment

  1. #5, we are pretty much penniless!!! we chose for me to be a stay at home mum. I have lost count of how many people said “that’s ok if you can afford it”!!! we manage, we share a house with my mother and grow alot of our own food, something I couldn’t keep on top of at work. I homeschool because we all hated school, learning should be a passion, the need to know, the drive to find that information, that’s what we get from unschooling. my daughter 9 only really got a the hang of reading last year, struggling one word at a time, now she has 6 books on the go, and manages to follow them appropriate to just beyond her age range…if you need to follow that. I like to keep a vague idea of how she’s doing comparatively, just in case. I was complimented by a lady with older children on how good and fluid my girls reading out loud was, she overheard us. so we must be getting something right. go with your heart for what works for your family. others judgement comes from their own fears. you do you. xx

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