First of all think about why you have decided to homeschool. It helps sometimes to write down your reasons because this helps to ensure you focus on what you need to do to get off to a good start. Also it helps when you out when you start deciding on curriculum, setting goals and determining your schedule and other things involved in homeschooling.
Make sure you know the homeschool laws for your area. There are many places to find this information out. It is very important to know your rights and responsibilities. I find too many homeschoolers do not know their rights and obligations and either do things that go beyond or fall short of what is required of them. So that you do not open up the door to being required to doing more than what your state requires, you must realize this in order to protect your homeschooling rights as well as your fellow homeschoolers'. In this website, I have included the information for Ohio. If you need help finding what is there for your state I am including a link to the HSLDA website. I am not providing any endorsement either way for this organization but it does have a good place to find out about your state laws. Again know your rights and keep a copy of it handy. I keep a folder with that information among other things such as my notification paper and excusal letter.
It helps to hook up with other homeschoolers in your area or even with an online group. This helps because there will be homeschoolers who are getting started like yourself and others who are veterans that can help you. You will need a good support lifeline. Every homeschooler that I have I known has gone through those ups and downs where they feel as if they aren't doing enough, they are ruining their child, they are burned out etc etc. This is totally normal. I actually would be concerned if you don't go through this. This is where your supprot group or other homeschoolers come in handy. They have been there or are going through it themselves. They can support and help you through things. Also they are a good source of advice and assistance. There will also be other homschool kids that your kids can get involved with. Maybe you find a homescoll co-op is for you. Or maybe just a homeschool group where your kids can get together and the parents can as well.
Many people forget that they need to try to figure out what makes their own child tick. What comes easy to them. What are his/her strengths and weaknesses. How do they best learn? Right-brained or left-brained? Any disabilities that you need to take into account? This will make it much easier because this is what you need to use in determining your method of homeschooling as well as what curriculum if any you will be choosing. How many kids and what ages are you homeschooling?
What method of homeschooling works best for you? There are various ways to homeschool. I have included information on several on this site as well. Different factors help you in choosing this as well. Your kids' method of learning and their needs? The amount of money you have to spend in your homeschooling? Time constraints. Etc.
That leads into what you choose for your curriculum. Once you choose what type of method you feel best suits your needs then you need to consider your curriculum. Determine the goals you have for your homeschooling. Remember what reasons you chose homescooling in the first place. Is it religious in nature? Because of values or academics that may be lacking at your local school? That may lead you to or from certain choices. Also what goals do you have for your child? Are you wanting them to learn to think on their own? Or are you wanting them to be strong in a certain academic area? Will you use a purchased curriculum? Will you make up your own? Will your do notebooking? Will you use bits and pieces of several currciulums? Will you use stuff you can get free off the internet and from libraries etc? Nowadays the sky is the limit This is both good and bad because you can easily get overwhelmed by all the choices. Remember to stay focused on your goals and needs.
Make sure you determine what records you need or want to keep. Determine how you will do this. For example, I use several things. I use a software that I highly recommend and can find at homeschooltracker.com. They have a free program and also one that is more advanced that you purchase for a one time fee. You get upgrades for free. I also keep a hard copy planner as well that I keep with me. I am currently reviewing the 2009 Schoolhouse Planner which you can purchase from The Old Schoolhouse Store. Since I am currently working on planning for my upcoming homeschool year I am excited about reviewing it. At first glance it looks like a fantastic tool to use. It not only has pages you can use but a lot of great information as well which is a difference between it and other planners I have looked at using. I know most planners have been primarily written for public and private school teachers and this is directly written for us homeschoolers. If you are interested in seeing a description of this from the Old Schoolhouse Store go here.
Consider what your schedule will be too. Will you keep a specific schedule or will it be more flexible? Will you do some subjects on certain days and some on all of them? When will you start schooling? Or will you do it all year long in some form?
Remember in all things- What works for someone else may not be the best for you. It is good to listen to folks give the their opinion on homeschooling issues/choices but ultimately you need to take that information and see if it applies to your child or not.
My biggest rule for homeschooling for me is that I will not homeschool as if my kids are going to "school". What do I mean by that? I need to step back and not fall in the trap of "schooling" at home. Others may be wanting to do this and that is fine because it is what works for you and fits in with your family and your goals. For us, when I started homeschooling my kids I realized that my experience with school need not and should not apply to my kids. After all I am homeschooling not sending them off to a school environment like I grew up in. For my state I am not required to teach the same things at the same schedule as our public schools. I need only teach the required subjects to my kids. Other states have different requirements according to their laws. This is where knowing your rights and obligations comes into play.
Most of all relax and have fun!