A Must-Follow Reading Plan for Every New Homeschool Parent

New to homeschooling? Follow this reading plan to get you started.

I’ve been thinking. If there was one thing I could change about the beginning of our homeschool journey…. okay… strike that. (Because, unfortunately, there’s way more than one thing I’d change.) Okay, let’s rephrase that… one of the things I wish I had done as a new homeschool parent was to take the time to read.

Seems simple enough, right? So simple, in fact, that you may be wondering why I now feel it would have been so important for me then.

I’m going to tell you why. 

Virtually any homeschool mom or dad you meet would agree that the beginning of the homeschooling journey comes loaded with lots of different feelings:

  • fear
  • excitement
  • insecurity
  • hope
  • self-consciousness
  • doubt
  • faith

Each of these feelings is well-founded because, yes, making the decision to educate your own children is a huge responsibility. I’d be worried about any parent who didn’t feel at least some of these.

And as complex as these feelings are, the entire act of learning to homeschool itself can be just as complex. From the outside, it may look like it’s just about learning how to teach your kids at home, but it’s so much more than that.

As a homeschool parent, it is crucial that you work through a number of topics at the outset of your journey in order to avoid any problems (such as burnout and imitating school) later on.

Today I’m going to share a reading map with you that will not only work through these topics in order but will also provide a list of books that will fit in each theme.

Let’s get started, shall we?

A Customized Reading Map for New Homeschool Parents

Help for new homeschool parents

Very often, the very first thing a new homeschool parent will do is look for curriculum to purchase. What if I were to tell you that that’s one of the last things that should be done? The fact is, homeschooling is about so much more than that.

The key to being fully prepared for this way of life is to read up on a few things:

Do you see the order that I put them in? Reading up on homeschooling in that order is the most effective way to prepare yourself. Let’s get started.

The History of Compulsory Education

(This post contains affiliate links.)

If there is one thing that will strengthen your resolve to homeschool and to make it work no matter the cost, it’s discovering the true history of public education. Suffice it to say, it’s not what we are led to believe it is. Here is a list of books to get you started:

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation into the Prison of Modern Schooling

How Children Learn

Once you are fully aware of the deception and dangers of compulsory schooling, the next step is finding out how children do learn. This is often the most difficult part for parents to get through because of the conditioning we all faced during our own experience in tradtional schools.

We’re all led to believe that learning only looks one way – the school way. In reality, the school method is the least effective for true learning. This is why it’s so important to learn about the history of compulsory education before you get to this point – so that you are more readily able to accept that there is another way.

Here are my favorite books on this subject:

Learning All the Time

How Children Learn

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling

Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life


Homeschooling Philosophies and Methods

After becoming well-versed in the way children actually learn, it’s time to start researching homeschooling philosophies and styles. Spend some time researching several methods, and then choose one that fits your child’s learning style, your teaching style, and your overall educational philosophy.

Always remember that homeschooling isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. Everyone does it differently, and that’s okay.

The Homeschooling Handbook

The Unschooling Handbook

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School

Educating the Wholehearted Child

The Well-Trained Mind

Homeschool Advice and Encouragement

Once you’ve begun homeschooling for a while, insecurity and doubt may begin to creep in. This is a crucial time to fill yourself up with words of encouragement from other homeschool parents who have been in your shoes.

These books are so inspiring and down-to-earth:

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace

The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick

Different (This isn’t necessarily a homeschooling book, but the author did homeschool her children and the lessons in this book are indispensible.)

As homeschool parents, it can be all too easy for us to focus so much on making sure our children are learning that we forget that we ourselves have much to learn. Here’s to hoping this reading plan will help you get well on your way!

Homeschooling and education are my passion. It is my fervent hope to one day devote more time to creating content for you. If you’d like to support this ministry, consider supporting me on Patreon.

Thank you so much. I appreciate each and every one of you!








Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

11 thoughts on “A Must-Follow Reading Plan for Every New Homeschool Parent”

  1. This is such good advice! I love so many of your book recommendations. I’m thankful someone told me 20 years ago to figure out our philosophy first. Of course it’s changed a little over the years but that kept us from a lot of mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful post with a comprehensive list of books parents should read. I remember taking an entire year, before removing my kids from school, just trying to convince my self I could do it, thru reading various books, especially on homeschooling children with disabilities and learning differences. There are so many more books out there now, ten years later, but it prevented me from making many common errors. Instead, my errors have been much more original!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great list, but could be overwhelming for a new homeschooler. I would pair it down to a new beginner list of the best 3. These would be mine: Dumbing us Down, Unschooling Handbook, & Teaching From Rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Shelly,
    I wish every new homeschooling parent would read this post and follow it’s advice! I’m subscribed to your channel and appreciate very much what you do. When I began homeschooling 20 years ago, I began by reading just about every book I could find on the subject. I read John Holt especially. But let me tell you it was very difficult in those days when I had no internet and could not even mention the name John Holt in my Christian homeschool circles. I began by teaching my children the three R’s and letting them follow their interests otherwise. I had a very hard time applying all I learned from Holt because
    I had never seen anyone do it. Also, the examples I read about were about parents with one or two children whose interests they could cater to…Meanwhile, I was having baby after baby and could hardly get to the library or sit to read a story to a child without incident! So we becaeme very very ….very….relaxed homeschoolers. Even though I have read How Children Learn and How Children Fail several times during the last 20 years and read everything I could find online, subscribed to several unschoolish channels, etc. , it has been difficult for me because I had to see it to believe it. Now I have two adult children, two teenagers and six children ranging from 12 to 2. The adult children, the ” experimental models”, went to a private school eventually because they chose to and thrived there. I foolishly enrolled the next two children thinking they would love it too, and they all became the typical kid who doesn’t want to go to school by third grade. So, I pulled them out and the younger crowd has never stepped in a school building. I did my three R method for a few years with the middles and then as of 3 years ago I’ve gone full “Holt” as I call it. Why? Because I finally saw with my own eyes that unschooling as he described it works. So very long story short. Yes unschooling works, even in a large family, because children are built to learn. My children who just wanted to play all day sometime around age 14 started to get serious and set goals. It’s like they needed all those years to develop and make their connections and then all of a sudden they want to know all this more complex information. The hard part is that you have to have trust and patience. I had neither, I had to see it to believe it! As an example, my teenage son who spent his childhood climbing trees and running away from books now has a reading and math schedule for himself to meet his personal education goals. He works a difficult part time job to pay for his clothing, car, education. We discuss together what he wants to learn next and how to access this information. For example, he realized he knows very little about how the human body works so I got him some anatomy books. He wanted to learn more about politics, so we went off researching that…and many more examples I could give. As I write this, my child who was labeled borderline autistic and ADHD is researching how to build a wooden helicopter. This child who could not read until 9 years old now reads for pleasure. My younger children are a bundle of inquisitiveness. My 4 year old counts to 40, my 6 year old does arithmetic for fun and makes number grids for fun. c.r.a.z.y. The 8 and 10 year old write stories for fun….I could go on and on, it’s almost ridiculous that it works, but it does. If I had my own soap box and I could tell everyone my best advice, it would be to build loving close relationships with your children so you can guide them as the whole unique person that they are. Curriclulum has nothing to do with education.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please tell me you live near Houston. We have so much in common! I don’t know anyone here who homeschools this way. I have one friend who is open to it. One woman was very rude when I said we didn’t really use curriculum. I rarely let the “U” word slip out of my mouth! My kids are 6-24 (8 of them).


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