You’ve decided to homeschool! Are you terrified? Excited? Overwhelmed? Welcome to the club, my friend! I don’t think I’ve met one homeschooling parent who didn’t feel this way at the beginning of their journey. So, take a deep breathe. This is going to be an amazing ride. Here are some of my tips for the beginner.
- Let go of other’s opinions. This is your child, your home, your life. There will always be the naysayers. Let them nay, and then move on. If you feel this is what is right for you, then you need to embrace it and dive head first. Write down the reasons you chose to homeschool and what your desires are for this new way of education. Read them often. Read them on days when you wonder why you ever wanted to do this. On days you’re tired, and the thought of sending them off to public school sounds like bliss. Because sweetie, you’ll have those days. But more than likely your days will be filled with moments of your child understanding a new concept and seeing the joy on their face. Laughing together at a great novel, or simply just talking about one another’s thoughts on a historical event.
- Do not make this public school in your home. Erase everything you know about schooling. Sitting at desks for hours on end, bathroom breaks, standing in front lecturing. This isn’t how it has to be done. If that is your thing, then go with it, but I’m all for the 8 year old reading upside down on the couch in a costume. The 12 year old doing their language arts on the grass outside, and I love me a worksheet that is covered in doodles. It can be messy, creative, and comfortable. This is your home, remember that.
- Find out your state’s laws regarding home education. Each state can be very different, so make sure to do your research. I personally love HSLDA. They have wonderful resources to help jump start you on information for your state’s requirements. Also, talk with other homeschooling families in your state if you can. (Find groups on Facebook.) Ask them how best they organized the requirements, so at the end of the year you aren’t overwhelmed with what is needed to be turned in, tests done, etc.
- Don’t do any “schoolwork” for awhile. Yes, you read that right. This pertains to families who might be starting mid year and schoolwork has been a real struggle. Maybe even your child hates learning. Or something traumatic has happened in your lives. They need a break. So, for a week or two (maybe more) play games together, go on hikes, read books to them (even if there 16!), watch cool documentaries, bake a fancy cake. You get the idea. Now, once they’ve had a rest, start with subjects they love. Help build that confidence back into their souls. Love of learning is important, and I’ll talk more about it later. Breaks are wonderful. We all need them!
- Curriculum. Oh my. CURRICULUM! The most overwhelming part I think most struggle with. We want THE best for our babies. It is a natural feeling, and we don’t want to fail them. But I have to tell you a secret. There is no perfect curriculum. We ALL have gaps in our education. Whether you were homeschooled, public schooled, or your parents paid an insane amount of money for you to wear those cute little uniforms at private school. There are gaps. And it is okay. So just pick one. Obviously, do your research, but with all that is offered now (so wonderful!!) it would takes you weeeeeeks to look at all the options. Ask around, read reviews, look at samples, and then try it out.
- Make a schedule. Make it YOUR schedule. I love hearing stories of families that are outdoors all morning and then come home in the afternoon and get down to business. Whatever you want for your homeschool life, make it happen. But schedule it out. When kids know what is expected they thrive and you’ll be so much more at ease with the organization. With that said, it’s okay if things go over time because y’all are loving a subject, or you find you need to rearrange your routine because it just isn’t working. Tweek it over and over again if needs be. You’ll find your groove.
- Have fun/Hands on education. Life is to be enjoyed. Education is to be enjoyed. I always say in regards to homeschooling, if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. If you are learning about Ireland, find Irish recipes online and get cooking together. Studying about the Wright brothers, buy an airplane model online and build it, or just make paper airplanes and see which style of folding flies the best. Education doesn’t just come from a textbook. Soon your child will naturally start thinking of their own fun, hands on activities that go with a subject they’ve been studying about.
- It takes years to really find your rhythm. I remember reading that when I first started homeschooling and thought that couldn’t be true. I don’t want that to be disheartening, because it isn’t. It just takes time to find the balance of it all. You’ve never done this before! So, give yourself time and grace. Remember to reach out to others, whether that is your local homeschooling group, a group on Facebook, or reading all the tips online. Whatever you find helps, is your answer. But know it takes time, practice, and patience — with your child and yourself. Also, if you can, let go of other obligations if you feel that would help ease into the homeschooling life.
- Love of learning. My favorite! It kind of goes hand in hand with have fun. There is nothing quite like watching your child learn a new concept, new facts, new discovery of the world and then running with it and absorbing all they can about the matter. It is a flipping sugar rush over here watching that magic happen. You have to foster the love of learning. I could right a book about this, but basically if your child hates reading, whether they are good at it or not, what is the point? Instill in them that their education is theirs and will be for the rest of their lives. If you have a child interested in the colonial period, find all the books, watch the documentaries, make food from that time, go a day without electricity. find ancestors that lived back then, or do research about famous people that helped shape that time period. You get the idea. Also, their interest might last 3 days or 3 months. Go with it.
- Don’t compare. Say it with me, “don’t compare!” Don’t compare your child to public school kids, homeschooled kids, or your other kids. Don’t compare yourself to Susie down the street or Martha online. We all, your children included, have different talents, interests, and abilities. There is no room for comparison. Whether it’s a “better than you” or a “less than you” mentality, stop that garbage right now. Enjoy your child, in your life. No one else can do that for you. We are all doing what we feel is best for our families, and how great is that!
I hope some of my thoughts help you in this journey. Remember take a deep breathe, and enjoy what is ahead.