What 10 pieces of advice that you would give to a new homeschooler?
Today I’m linking with Angie at Manylittleblessings.com.
- What works for me may not work for you. As you read things pretend you are going to a buffet and take what you want but leave what you don’t. I have had a lot of people tell me that I’m homeschooling “wrong” and what that means is that I’m not doing it the way they would. I don’t really understand why when I homeschool I need to answer a lot of questions about my decision and when I send my kids to school that is just fine with everyone. If homeschooling your kids is in your heart than it will all work out–some days will be easier than others–just sayin’.
- Make a mission statement of why you want to homeschool–this will be your compass on your “trip”. I found it valuable to read why my decision was important and either add to it or tweak it a bit as I had a clearer personal definition of why. In my mission statement I included the overall why, who, how long, what might make me change my mind, the benefits for the child, you, the family and how will I teach my child?
- Being with your kids on a bad day is still totally worth it! It takes a while to get a groove with your kids–if you have pulled them from school they might need a chance to deschool. My worse days had nothing to do with schooling my children–it came from being overwhelmed with everyday things–laundry, dinner, mowing the lawn, wanting to get the special project done . . .
- Due to #6 I found my days went much better when I planned ahead. I printed off charts for dinner, chores, cleaning schedule and every possible schedule that I could find online. When I felt like I had a handle on how I was going to “get it all done” it seemed more manageable. I also had to leave trying to be perfect at the door! This planning every detail didn’t last long but it gave me a foundation that I could when things were busy.
- Don’t be afraid to try different schedules–all year, 3 weeks on one week off, every Friday off (we did this for a while because we went to Mass and then out to breakfast afterwards, then the library) so the day was over before we knew it. What worked best for us was to start school when everyone else started school and end on the summer solstice. That was their choice not mine. We typically worked for 3 weeks on and 1 week off with long breaks over Christmas and Easter. I enjoyed being able to take a week off–it gave the kids and I both a break. That is when I worked on my planning–of school and knitting projects or something fun.
- Talk to people, check out blogs, attend a seminar or webinar. I just “attended” the homeschooling Summit over Memorial Day and it was great. There is an entire sisterhood of like-minded friends out there–find them and use them as a resource.
- Change will happen. Your kids change and what works for you may change. Curriculums change. Learning styles change over night! One of the things that I love about homeschooling is that everyday is different from the next.
- Kids love to explore and learning is a natural extension of that. Try different kinds of teaching–some friends follow a curriculum that gives a lesson each day and some friends sort of wing it–finding out what works for you can take a while–don’t rush it–your kids are still learning. I’m sort of in the middle. My kids are younger and that has a different set of challenges vs having high schoolers. I let my kids give me direction on what we teach–we always get to everything but not in the traditional order of things. My first year I was so stressed out about not getting to it all but then realized that we did get to everything–it all worked out. I worried for no reason at all. Padre Pio says “pray, hope and don’t worry.” I wish that I had known that quote when I started.
- I pulled my son from school and that was hard. He grieved for about a weekend and was fine–I on the other hand had put years into the school before he attended and I had spent 3 years as a very active volunteer in the school. My friends were there, my future employment was there . . . it was hard. I cried when we accidentally drove past the school during recess. In the beginning, I had days where I thought I was “giving so much up” for the sake of homeschooling–but now I can see how it enriched my life, my kids and how it has shaped what I’m doing now.
- I loved my co-op. I still miss it and the kids still miss friends that they made there. My co-op was Explorers and I found wonderful women there who inspired me in ways that they don’t even realize. It wasn’t just about giving my child the opportunity to meet other friends and learn Lego Robotics but it was a way for me to connect and grow in a way that I didn’t know I needed. I had lots of jobs at Explorers and stretched what I thought I could do and the coop gave me the opportunity to discover that I love teaching kids about writing and how to express themselves. I had talents and I was encouraged to explore them–that would not have happened had it not been for the coop.
I like to soak in the world and then write it down. I remember things people tell me that work or didn’t work for them and it all gets stored in my brain or now on Evernote. On this homeschool journey I’ve met so many wonderful women who are like-minded and that has supported my vocation as a mom, woman, and teacher. Homeschooling isn’t just a way to educate your kids, it really becomes part of who you are and how you look at the world.