We started talking about homeschooling when our first child was just two years old. What’s crazy to me is the fact that neither my husband nor I had been homeschooled. The entire process was foreign. But I felt God gently leading me. So I went into this journey with the attitude that we’d homeschool as long as it worked. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is the fact that children can enter (or re-enter) the public school system at any point if needed. That took SO much pressure off me. Now we’re on our tenth year of homeschooling and I still feel like a newbie some days. Perhaps the feeling never goes away completely so I wanted to share some tips for new homeschooling parents with you today.
10 Tips For New Homeschooling Parents
- Take A Deep Breath And Relax: If you’re pulling your children out of public school for any reason, be sure to take several weeks and get to know each other. Figure out what your children’s interests are. Start by writing a journal about your days, hopes, dreams, wants, etc. Then use what your kids tell you to plan what you’ll teach. <—This process is usually called ‘de-schooling’.
- Head To The Library And Pick Up A Bunch Of Documentaries: This IS school! Part of the beauty of homeschooling is the fact that it doesn’t have to be difficult. The library is a huge resource to many homeschool families. Assign a “library day” each week and take advantage of all they have to offer. If your local library is closed for in-person visits, request options for curbside pickup.
- Try Not To Get Overwhelmed By All The Box Curriculum Choices: There are tons of choices and every single family will give you a different answer for what they like best. Be sure to keep in mind the individual needs of each specific child. Even in one family, each child may be using a different set of books or curriculum options! Join a few homeschool b/s/t pages and pick up some gently used items to find what fits your family best. Refrain from buying a lot at once till you see what works for your family! You may find that you choose to forgo a lot of bookwork and do more hands on learning!
- Pray For Your Homeschooling Journey: There will be hard days and there will be good days. Actually, there will be many great days too. However, praying for the journey and goals can really help bring peace and stability. Trust me, it helps! Matthew 6:33 “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added.” He cares about academics too!
- Do Not Drop Hundreds Or Thousands Of Dollars On Curriculum: Yes, many families do choose to use a pre-planned curriculum, my family included. But I’ve also wasted SO much money over the years by over-buying. Seriously, re-read #2 again and take advantage of free resources to supplement the basics. You can even make your own learning tools such as flashcards.
- Please IGNORE Any Comments About Socialization: They are usually completely untrue. Seriously, in my entire life, I’ve only met ONE homeschool family who needed some serious socialization. Our kids spend time with a variety of people throughout a week and typically have more play time and play dates than public schooled kids. If you’re concerned, join a Sunday School program, Youth Group, library activities, and other local events. Or you can even plan a monthly or bi-monthly game day with another local homeschool family.
- Find A Local Homeschool Community: We have a large local homeschool group that offers a variety of co-ops, field trips, and events. Even a variety of sports options, choir, and band! If you can’t find a co-op near you, start one! Just put the word out on Facebook and at the local library and connections usually happen.
- Give Yourself A Break: Do NOT make a bunch of unreasonable expectations or commitments that you won’t be able to fulfill. Give yourself grace to make mistakes and step back from over-commitments.
- Set Expectations But Be Open To Change: I’ve found that it works best for our kids to get them up early and get the work done so they have lots of free time afterwards. Most days, we’re up at 6 or 6:30am and done with school by 8 or 9. But I’m okay with letting them sleep in if we’ve had a busy day or something else comes up.
Flexibility = Sanity!
- Nothing Goes As Planned: Even after 9+ years, our plans still go awry. It’s OKAY! The beauty of homeschooling is that we can adjust as needed.
Beauty And Flexibility
I’ve found homeschooling to be a beautiful journey. It’s also hard, frustrating, and a million other things. But being flexible truly helps. (I’m a planner so a go-with-the-flow motto definitely stretches me.) However, some of our funnest and best learning days are when we let the small stuff go and I let the kids lead. If someone suggests a nature walk, grab a coat and go. Playdough and craft day today? Absolutely. And when the kids suggest heading out to ride bike, race around the shed, and create obstacle courses, I say YES! Who knew gym class could happen in your driveway, right!?
Be sure to check out another post I wrote about how to have a successful year of homeschooling for more help!