The follow is a post from contributing writer Megan Spires from House of the Rising Sons.
Five years ago, when we made the decision to homeschool our children, I very distinctly remember that feeling of excitement and conviction in knowing we were making the right choice for our family. But we also knew that we were being led down a path that was very unfamiliar and foreign to us as well. As I began to prepare myself for the road ahead, I quickly became overwhelmed with the vast amount of information and resources available for homeschooling families.
Looking back, I wish I had known then, what I know now. I believe I would have spent a lot less time worrying and a lot more time enjoying our first year homeschooling. So, if this is the beginning of your journey, and we could sit down together for a cup of coffee or tea…these are the 10 pieces of advice I would give to you that I have learned along the way.
1. Start slowly with realistic expectations. Whether your kids are just starting school for the first time or you are pulling them out of public school, definitely take some time to gather resources, talk to other homeschooling families and figure out what you’d “like” your days to look like. But remember to start slowly and maybe even focus on deschooling for a while. Even if you only do an hour per day of actual “school time” to start….that’s OK. This first year will be just as much about your kids adjusting to life and school at home as it will be for you. It will be a year of trial and error, evaluating and adjusting and readjusting your expectations.
2. Learning Styles, Methods and Approaches. During this first year and even beyond, you’ll begin to get a feel for how your child learns best and what teaching method your family enjoys most. Knowing these two things will help you form a foundation to the way you educate your children and will serve as the backbone to how you approach school. Here is a great series on this topic.
3. DIY Homeschool Planner. One of the first things I did when starting out, was put together a very simple, all-in-one, 3-ring notebook for our homeschool planning. It housed all of my ideas, favorite online resources, to do lists, outline of our weekly lesson plans and our unit study outline for the year. You can make your planner as elaborate or as basic as you’d like. This mama needed a simple and user-friendly planner with lots of room for flexibility.
4. Keep a List of Your Child’s Interests. Write down all the interests and passions your kids clue you in on. Make note of things that seem to really grab their attention and anything they ask a lot of questions about. You can use these notes to help in your lesson planning. My boys LOVED that I included their ideas and interests in our school lessons which fueled their desire to learn even more.
5. You Don’t NEED a Designated School Room. When we first started on our homeschooling journey, I thought we needed to have a space just for school. Turns out we didn’t. We do have a few places where we keep our resources and books, but otherwise, school can happen wherever you are. Don’t let a lack of space dictate how or where learning happens.
6. Curriculum and What to Teach. The resources and curriculum available today for homeschooling families is incredible. There is so much out there that it can really be overwhelming. Gathering more and more (and more) resources may feel right, but what good will any of it be if all we do is plan and plan, but never get off the ground for fear of not having the right plan, the best curriculum or the perfect method to our madness? My advice: find several homeschooling blogs and sites you love, glean wisdom from them, apply what you can, use your library and rest in the knowledge that it will be enough.
7. Do NOT Compare Yourself to Other Homeschoolers. I cannot emphasize this enough. Every family is different. No two children are the same and what works for one family may not work for the next. You may go through times when you wonder if you’re doing too much or not enough, based on what others are doing. Doing this will only steel your confidence and joy. It’s just fruitless. Remember, this is a journey. God made YOU the mom of the specific children He blessed you with on purpose. Don’t compare yourself to others.
8. Homeschooling is a Way of Life. Take advantage of all the learning opportunities that take place in any given day. Even though we have focused school time, we still consider everything we do part of learning. Homeschooling isn’t separate from the rest of your life. It is life, and it colors and touches everything you do. Embrace it!
9. Find a Homeschool Group. One thing homeschoolers love is other homeschoolers. There’s nothing like having a circle of like-minded friends who will be there to support and encourage you along the way.
10. Priorities and Why you Homeschool. It’s easy to get lost in the planning, preparing and teaching aspects of homeschooling, but we need to remember why we are doing this in the first place. When you’re struggling or having a rough day, remember why you chose to homeschool and take time to ENJOY your kids while they’re home with you. Academics are important, but sometimes there are other things that take precedence, like sibling relationships, character development, learning how to load and unload the dishwasher, exploring the outdoors together, helping others, spending time with grandparents and loving one another.
Megan writes about her amazing journey raising and homeschooling four active boys while sharing her faith at House of the Rising Sons.
This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.
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