Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Homeschooling

Ten-Things-I-Wish-I-Knew

I first trifled with the idea of homeschooling when our oldest was getting ready to start kindergarten.  At the time, I really couldn’t see how I could do that and keep working, so I put it on the back burner.  Fast forward to the start of 3rd grade and due to a really bad teacher, it seemed like homeschooling was the only viable solution.  Even though I talked to as many people as I could and read all the how to books I could get my hands on, there were a number of things I know now that I wish I knew then.  For those of you who are getting started on this amazing journey of educating at home, I hope these will help and encourage you as you begin.

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1. Once you find a book you like, stop looking at others. There is A LOT of great curriculum out there.  I was overwhelmed at the size of the Rainbow Resource catalog!  How do you possibly choose from all of that? My advice is to limit yourself to 3 books for each subject you want to teach, and then look through those to make a final decision.  Then STOP looking.  Otherwise you may find it hard to commit and get started for fear of  a better curriculum choice out there.

2. People will not understand your choice.  I live in a city that has one of the largest concentrations of homeschoolers in the country.  Of all places, you would think people here would understand homeschooling.  Not at all.  I get a lot of strange looks or condescending remarks whenever people find out why my kids are ‘not in school today.’  Like most everything else in motherhood, shrug it off and do what you know to be best.  YOU know YOUR child better than anyone, and as a result you know what is best for them.  If you have decided that homeschool is the best, then don’t worry what anyone else thinks.

3. Homeschooling can be lonely. As with anything in life, it can be hard to be the odd one out who isn’t doing what everyone else does.  If possible, find another homeschool family or two and do things together.  Read blogs of other homeschoolers.  Go to homeschool events at local museums.  You’ll soon realize that there are a lot of us out there!

4. Your school will be very different from everyone else’s.  I think when I got started I imagined that there would be lots of other homeschoolers doing things similar to us.  I was using the plan and most of the books laid out in The Well Trained Mind, and I figured I would find many others doing the same.  Well, what I found was that I was the only school who had these 2 students, so naturally I was the only one doing school in our particular way.  This is OKAY.  Find your confidence in what you’ve decided to do not in what everyone else seems to be doing.

5. The curriculum of today may not work next year.  I tried very hard to find a science and math curriculum that would carry us all the way through high school.  My thought was that it would be easier on them to know what to expect from their books from year to year.  That plan worked great for science, but not so much for math.  As we progressed in our studies, we found that what we liked in the early years was not working at all in the middle years.  Let it go.  Move on to what does work.  If the kids are constantly bored and confused as they do their studies, are they really learning anything?  Don’t be married to your curriculum.  It’s okay to change.

6. You probably won’t get through the whole book. I always feel this ridiculous pressure to finish every lesson in every book we have.  It took me a while to cut myself some slack.  First of all, I can’t remember a time when I was in school that we actually made it through a text book.  Secondly, most books are designed for 180 lessons.  If you take field trips or stop to do a project, you’re not going to have 180 days available to do each lesson.  It’s okay.  Next year, the first few weeks will cover anything that you didn’t get to.

7. Consider what mastery really means. When I first started I heard the term mastery and had this idea of it meaning ‘completion’.  For example, if we completed our 180 science lessons, then we mastered science this year.  What it really means is that you don’t move on to the next topic until you have fully and completely understood the one you are on.  This means that sometimes a spelling lesson can be done in a week, and other times it takes 3 weeks.  The calendar is not there to race against.  If you think that mastery is important, then understand that your lesson plans will have to be written in pencil.  Mastery is concerned with WHAT they learned, not how quickly they learned it.

8. ‘Mommy Guilt’ will still appear.  We women have a horrible habit of measuring ourselves against others.  When my kids were in public school, there was always some mom who had to tell everyone how her kid was smarter/faster/more accomplished than our kids.  There were also times when I felt guilty because we weren’t together all day like homeschoolers were.  Now that we homeschool, there are homeschool moms who like to tell everyone how their kid is smarter/more of a prodigy/fluent in Latin by age 5, etc.  And there are times when I feel guilty that my kids aren’t getting to experience certain things in school.  My encouragement is to: 1. stay away from ‘me monsters’ who have to brag all the time, and 2. concentrate on the great things you are experiencing with your kids.  Everyday is not rainbows and roses, but I wouldn’t trade anything for getting to watch my kids learn.

9. Homeschooling is harder than you think. I love to learn and I love to teach, and I really thought this homeschool thing would be pretty simple to get going.  For me, the academic side of it was for the most part.  I did not expect the emotional trials that homeschooling can bring.  It took a while for us all to understand our new roles as not just mother, daughter, son; but now teacher and student.  You never know how things will work out when you get started, but just be prepared to run into a few growing pains as you transition into homeschool.  The difficulties are REALLY worth it!

10. Be careful of trying to do this in your own strength.  My type A personality gets me into all kinds of trouble in this area.  I have a tendency to put my trust in all the planning and research I’ve done, and then I get upset when these plans are derailed.  God has shown me time and time again in this journey that I have to trust Him and not all my plans.  I pray James 1:5 over and over.  I realize that I only have this one shot with these kids, and the only thing that matters is that I teach them about Him.  They can always learn quadratic equations, but if they miss who He is and who they are created to be, it will all be for nothing.  Pray, pray, and pray some more.  He will guide you through.

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Comments

  1. I am you classmate in Blogelina. This post is like a mirror for myself. I just started homeschool 1.5 years ago. I think I need to learn a lot from you. Thanks for your motivating post. I am not alone experiencing those things.

  2. Isn’t it funny how we can feel alone and then all of a sudden we find out it’s not just us? 🙂 Homeschooling can be tough, but it’s so worth it! You can do it! 🙂