Ask anyone who has had the experience of homeschooling 20+ years ago, and they will definitely tell you that homeschooling is a very different experience today than it was back then. Now, you can be completely overwhelmed by the educational philosophies, the curriculum choices, and the social and activity choices that are out there. I don't know if this makes the issue of "how do I start?" any easier. Support-wise and legality-wise, I am sure that it is easier. But confusion is probably much easier than it was then.
Andrea posted and said that she had a friend in South Dakota who has a five-year-old, and wants to homeschool, but isn't finding a lot of resources. I don't know about South Dakota -- as far as the personal aspect...but this is the route that I would pick.
SUPPORT AND INFORMATION
First of all, I would look at Home School Legal Defense Association. This is a very good website that you can easily navigate to find laws and issues regarding your state. HSLDA also, for the cost of membership, provides resources and legal advice and representation as well, should you need it. But you have to be a member before you need it. When I was in California, not belonging wasn't even considered. While the laws were less rigid, the attitudes were not favorable, and legal issues did frequently come up. Indiana has been much more friendly, and homeschooling is legally protected. I haven't really seen the need to join, when that money does not come easily. HSLDA also has a network of lobbyists who work to increase and protect homeschooling rights across the country. Be forewarned though -- some homeschoolers LOVE HSLDA, some hate it and feel like they've done some things that hurt our rights as well. I don't know, but I do know they have a great website.
NHEN, National Homeschoolers Education Network is another place I'd go, especially if you are seeking support. They can connect you to state and local groups. I know our IHEN group in Indiana is very active, and has a great email list that primarily serves to disseminate information on all sorts of things and provide support to those who are new to homeschooling. This can connect you to organizations that offer state-wide support and possibly some local support groups that meet or offer help and services or that have curriculum fairs and state or local conventions. I assure you, these groups are there. Whether or not they meet your needs is another story. We started out being involved with them, but really don't miss them.
I am a conservative, confessional, liturgical Lutheran, and where I have found my primary support for the last several years has been from a wonderful group of people (mostly very smart women, and a few very smart men) called Martin Loopers. It is a high volume email list of people who come from all areas of the educational philosophy spectrum, from unschooling to strongly classical and everything in between, but we all share our common faith and a profound love for historical, confessional Lutheranism. If this fits, then go to http://www.cat41.org/, click on "services we offer" and sign up for Martin Loopers. They are very loving and accepting of many things, but really aren't looking to debate worship styles or Biblical inerrancy. These issues are already decided on this list. Though lots of aspects therein are up for discussion...and so is just about everything else. The Midwest contingent is particularly active and sometimes gets together for "Mamapaloozas" and family retreats.
Feed My Lambs is a quarterly newsletter put out for Lutheran homeschoolers as well, and is very good.
BOOKS AND RESOURCES
There are some good books for starting with, especially with a young child. Now please understand also, I am classical/Charlotte Mason philosophy by nature, and TRY to gear my homeschool life around that, so my reading has often been geared around that...I am also notoriously unstructured, too, so I gravitate to some aspects of unschooling and as my friend Julee calls it "The By Gosh and By Golly Method." I have mostly put our school curriculum together by piecemeal, and I will describe what I have done later.
One thing I will definitely say is that there is a reason it is called "HOME" schooling. It is not just doing school in your house. It is tailoring your child's education to the needs of that child and to the needs and structure of your family. We could believe exactly the same things, embrace the same ideals, but as you gain experience, your homeschool could look VERY different from mine. You end up taking things that work for you and throwing away what doesn't. You end up working with your child's learning style, and also your own teaching style. I have thrown curriculum and ideas away because I knew I could not work with them, despite the fact that I really felt they had great value (and once or twice, even though I knew my kids might like them). It is about the dynamic between you, your children, and your whole family. That being said, here are the books that have I have really learned from. I read a lot before I homeschooled, but I have read some of these since I started. So don't feel like you have to do it all right off the bat.
Better Late than Early, by Raymond Moore.
We homeschoolers tend to fear making the same mistake that the schools make, pushing our kids too far and too fast. The Moores argue that children are taught things at the wrong time. And I will have to say that at times, I have struggled and struggled with teaching my kids something, only to find that if I'd waited until they were older, what took weeks (and we were getting nowhere, sometimes took 5 or 10 minutes of discussion later)
Anything else by the Moores, including The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook.
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer MacCauley.
I love this book and a lot of books that are dealing with Charlotte Mason educational philosophy.
Teaching the Trivium - by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. If you don't get the book, at least read this article on their website...Ten Things to Do With Your Child Before Age Ten. Other classical homeschooling books left me feeling overwhelmed, especially the one that really has been popular The Well Trained Mind. That being said....
The Well Trained Mind - by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. Their routine is really quite rigid, and I would go nuts with it, but the resources they list are really quite exhaustive and very impressive.
A Charlotte Mason Companion - by Karen Andreola. There are things I love about this book and things I hate. It seems a little too idealistic, but it does a good job outlining some of the great points that Charlotte Mason made, and some feasible ideas for implementing them.
The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason -a lot more in depth. I love to read, and I have to go through these slowly. But they are wonderful reading, and they deal with lots of different aspects of education a real person. You can often get this used on Ebay or elsewhere.
John Taylor Gatto has some very good information regarding the political/philosophical aspects of homeschooling vs. government schools, if you get into that...sometime when I have time.
I invite others to share their ideas as well....I think I am going to address the internet resources, blogs, and curriculum in another post. I hope this helps and isn't too overwhelming.