(These steps are very basic.  You may have already done many of them.  There are far more complete suggestions in The Homeschooler's Handbook.)

DECIDE TO HOMESCHOOL

A huge decision, and the first one that must be made!  Make certain you have everyone’s agreement who will be involved, including (and especially) the student’s!

SET UP THE STUDY AREA

1) Have all the needed courses, books, a computer on the Internet, printer, and other materials ready.  Each student should have his own desk, table, or study area.  Each student should have easy access to dictionaries that are correct for their reading level, though these can be on the Internet.  Make certain the room is not temperature, odor or moisture “challenged”.  A comfortable, quiet, safe area is the goal.

THE COURSES NEEDED:

STEP 1 (AGE 5-6) REQUIRED MATERIALS
Step 1 Creative Writing I
Step 1 History I
Step 1 Science I
Step 1 Living Your Life I
Step 1/Step 2 Reading Program
Books to begin the reading program, two copies of each, age-appropriate
A simple hands-on math program
Some sort of P.E.

STEP 2 (AGES 7-8) REQUIRED MATERIALS
Step 2 Creative Writing I
Step 2 History I
Step 2 Science I
Step 2 Living Your Life I
Step 1/Step 2 Reading Program
Books to begin the reading program, two copies of each, age-appropriate
A blank form for the spelling program
An appropriate math program
Some sort of P.E.

STEP 3 (AGES 9-10) REQUIRED MATERIALS
Complete Spelling Program
Information - Right Or Wrong
How To Do STEPS Courses
Step 3 How To Do Research
Creative Writing I
STEP 3 History I
STEP 3 Science Basics
Manners Course
Your selected Math curriculum (We suggest Saxon Math)
A PE option (sporting league, karate, dance, something.)
A blank form for their spelling program
A selected reading book.  (Use our reading program to select a book.)
An elective, if one has been selected.

STEP 4 (AGES 11-UP)
Complete Spelling Program
How To Do STEPS Courses
Information - Right Or Wrong
Control Of Your Life - You Or Them?
Step 4 How To Do Research
Creative Writing I
STEP 4 History
STEP 4 Science Basics (Inform the student that upon completing page 28 of Science Basics, and Right Or Wrong?, the student will then start Step 4 History I – Pre-History, as well as continue with their Science studies.)
Your selected Math curriculum
A PE option (sporting league, karate, dance, something.)
A blank form for their spelling program
A selected reading book.  (Use our reading program to select a book.)
An elective, if one has been selected.

A STUDY SCHEDULE

The student is walked through the daily study schedule. 

Here is a sample schedule for STEP 1: 

Orientation                    9:00-9:05

Science                          9:05 – 9:40

Break                           9:40-10:00

Math                            10:00-10:30

History                        10:30-11:10

Lunch                          11:10-12:20

Creative Writing         12:20-1:00

P.E.                               1:00-1:40
 

Here is a sample schedule for STEP 2: 

Orientation                    9:00-9:05

Science                          9:05 – 9:45

Break                           9:45-10:05

Math                            10:05-10:45

History                        10:45-11:35

Lunch                          11:35-12:30

Creative Writing         12:30-1:15

P.E.                               1:15-2:10
Elective (optional)       2:10-3:00


Here is a sample schedule for STEP 3: 

Orientation                    9:00-9:05

Science/Creative Writing

(split weekly)    9:05-9:55

Break                           9:55-10:10

Math                            10:10-11:05

History                        11:05-12:00

Lunch                          12:00-12:50

Elective                       12:50- 1:50

Break                             1:50-2:05

P.E.                               2:05-3:00

Here’s a sample schedule for STEP 4:

Orientation                    9:00-9:05

Science                        9:05-9:55

Break                           9:55-10:10

Math                            10:10-11:05

Creative Writing         11:05-12:00

Lunch                          12:00-12:50

History                        12:50-2:20

Break                             2:20-2:35

P.E./Elective                 2:35-3:30

(NOTE – The schedules above are offered for students who need a lot of “structure” to progress.  We suggest an OPEN SCHEDULE rather than a set schedule, if the student and family can successfully do one. 

An open schedule means that at the start of each semester the student determines broad goals, such as the math book he must complete that year; X number of science courses; X number of history courses; X number of creative writing course; and X number of electives the student expresses interest in.  It is then left up to the student to determine what he works on and when.  If he wishes to work one particular subject for a few hours, a day, a week, even a month, fine, so long as the student takes responsibility and completes their courses for the school year. 

We also don’t think it’s appropriate to tell students when they are hungry, when they need breaks, or when they need to go to the bathroom.  This is degrading for the student.  We urge you to allow the student to determine his daily schedule.  This is a freedom homeschooling permits.  This probably works with more ease with Step 4 students.  You will have to monitor each student’s weekly and monthly progress, and may recommend they spend some time on subjects they’re ignoring or not progressing in.  But if a student wants to do their math in the final six weeks of study (as an example), we say so be it, so long as they take full responsibility for his work!

Also, if the student is in a sport league, dance or martial arts class, say, or in separate art classes, or ANYTHING which might be looked at as an elective or PE course, these should be counted as a part of study time, though they will usually not be during the hours of a standard “school day”.

PREPARING TO STUDY

Make certain every new student understands that as a student, they must be well-rested and fed (no sugar!). 

Explain that the student’s homework will include:

-Reading (the equivalent of one book per month at the student’s reading Step.)

-Spelling (once a week, ten words, to be done over the weekend)

-Any lines which need to be memorized for theatre arts

-Remedial work (if the student does very poorly on a given test and requires a review of materials)

No other homework will usually be assigned!

Go over the spelling program with the student.  Explain that the blank form is to be used to place words which the student has found they misspelled during the week of work.  If a word is misspelled several times, that’s fine, list it several times.  Explain that on Friday, the student will select 10 words from the list the student has made.  The student will drill these 10 words over the weekend, and be quizzed on their spelling each Monday morning.

Have the student start studies with whatever should be studied, given your schedule and the time of day.

Enter the student in your roll call log.  Enter them as “present” on this first day of attendance.  (This is a legal requirement, daily attendance.)

ON-GOING STUDY

KEEPING ATTENDANCE

Each day, take attendance.  Keep a written record of this, and keep it clear.  This is legally required of you.

DAILY PROGRESS

Make certain your student progresses every day in their selected studies for each day of study. (Or that they progress in a selected subject a lot, for an intensive period of time, before returning to their other studies.)

UNDERSTAND WORDS

Make certain students understand every defined term, if they seem to struggle at all.

UNDERSTAND LOCATIONS

Make certain the student really locates places on maps and globes, as assigned.

REST, FOOD, ILLNESS AND STUDY

If a student is tired from lack of rest, or poorly fed, immediately solve this.  Be active in this.  Don't bother to try to educate a tired or hungry student.  Allow no sugar before or during study.  (Strongly suggested!)

If a student is ill, or in pain (such as with a headache), it is probably best to let education go until they are not in pain.  It’s hard to focus or learn when in pain, and we suggest you don’t bother to try.

RECREATIONAL COMPUTER GAMES AND TV

In our experience with education in general, and with homeschoolers in particular, little is more destructive of education, or of a student’s ability and willingness to get things done, than a lot of computer games and TV.  They should never do these while studying.  In their own time, and we’re sorry to suggest this because we understand it is a pain and will cause a fuss, they should be severely limited, particularly as to games, probably to an hour, and only on days they are not studying – IF AT ALL.

WEEKLY SPELLING

Every Monday, check the student out on their Friday spelling list, then give them a new blank form.  If they miss words upon checking out their spelling, place the words misspelled at the top of the new page.  These will be given to the student next Friday, again.

TESTING

As students get to the end of sections of studies, they’ll often arrive at a test.  Allow the students one hour to review, if they need it.  

Tests are provided, along with answer guides, as a part of each course.  Give your student only the test they’re currently on.  If you’re working with printed copies, then do not have them write on the test page, as they may need to retest.  Do not show the student the answer guide.  Let them do the test in a reasonable amount of time, from 20 minutes (tests with maybe 10 questions) to an hour for very long tests (50 questions or more).  Do not provide the correct answers to missed questions; just send the student back to the correct materials for review.

Each Test Answer Guide contains the answers to each question on that test, as well as THE NUMBER OF THE LESSON PLAN IN THAT COURSE WHERE ANSWERS CAN BE FOUND.  (Example: “Lesson 4”.)   When a student completes a test, they will need to look at the materials where the info on missed questions are found.  The answer guides make this simple for the tutor and student.

VERY IMPORTANT – In testing, a student’s answers do not need to be (and should not be) “verbatim”, memorized answers from the materials.  We are interested only in conceptual understanding.  Can the student understand the ideas, and use them?  That’s all we're interested in, and not their ability to memorize!

GRADING

At the end of every test in your answer guide is an explanation for what to do, regarding test results.  Usually, if the student misses 10% or less of the questions, we ask they look over the correct answers before moving into the next area of study.   If they miss 11%-20% of the questions, we ask that they review the correct answers and the materials in which those answers were located in the study materials.  If the student misses more than 20% of the questions, we ask that they review (re-read) the written materials in that section of study (but DO NOT RE-DO EXERCISES!), and then retest. 

Don't allow this review to take very long.  If a re-study is required, we recommend that no more than three-four hours or so be used to accomplish this review.  It should be made very clear to the student that they are expected to really understand the materials studied and move on!

A student moves on to the next area of study when the test just taken is “corrected” to 100% comprehension, and not before. 

The purpose of testing is to discover what the student did not thoroughly and correctly understand in his studies, in order to remedy these areas up to 100% comprehension.  Testing has no other purpose in Steps.  Let the student know this before he tests, if there is fear.  We don’t give “grades”.  All tests are corrected to 100% comprehension, which would allow only one grade to be given when the test is complete…A+.