Are you just starting your homeschool journey? Perhaps you’ve been “in-it”, but are you still trying to get into the swing of things?
I know it took me a couple of years to find my footing. At the beginning, I still wasn’t sure what kind of homeschooler I wanted to be. An eclectic? Curriculum stickler? Fierce scheduler or unschooler?
Related: How Homeschooling Found Me.
I had to sample different methods to see what worked for my family, taking into consideration my strengths and weaknesses as a new teacher. I also had to discover what my children’s learning styles were, and figure out how to work with them.
By the end of the 2nd grade year, I was pleased to find that we are a Waldorf family, focusing on art and stories to teach. I also loved the pace of Waldorf education- it felt gentle and kind to my children, versus some of the plow-through-it curriculum I had come across. I’m a visual, hands-on kind of learner. I was happy to find that my children are too, so moving in this direction was perfect for us.
If you are new to homeschooling, or still trying to find your way, I want to remind you that confidence comes in good time. It may be shaky at first, but as new teachers, WE are learning TOO. After all these years, I don’t think my learning is as much about “teaching” as it is about how to effectively communicate with my kids (without losing my shiz). I’ve had to figure out what motivates, and what stresses them.
Homeschooling is trial and error!
Mistakes with homeschooling are really “mis-takes”. If we screw up, we try again, just like a director shooting multiple takes when creating a cinema masterpiece.
And just like a cinema masterpiece, we have to allow everyone to take part- the director can only direct, she can’t play ALL the parts and plan ALL the shooting times and do ALL the editing. She has to allow each player to bring what they got to the table, and then she works with it. Our relationships within our family works like that- you are the director, and your children are the actors (or sometimes script writers…or critics).
Roll with it, and allow your mini masterpiece to unfold.
Beginners Guide to Homeschooling: Advice
- Join an online homeschooling group (and real life one!). Having a group to ask questions, especially during the beginning, can be a life saver! Also, it’s a great place to find used curriculum (allowing you to test drive different styles). Facebook has A LOT of homeschooling groups, but if you don’t do FB (like me- I quit!), Yahoo groups or Meetup.com are also great resources.
- Make a loose schedule. Newbie homeschoolers typically set rigid schedules at the beginning, pushing themselves (and their kids) to the edge. This can result in quick burnout and contribute to giving up after the hectic holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with starting small. In fact, I start small every year. It helps us ease into a new grade, and it gives me insight on where my kids are emotionally and mentally after the summer break. Aim for smooth sailing, not turbulent water.
- Don’t be afraid to hit the BRAKES. Are you pushing the day too much? Rushing through to “stay on schedule?” Did Math turn into a sob fest…for you? Step away. Stop the lesson. Let your child collect their thoughts, and you can go and collect yours. The assignment isn’t going anywhere- you can both revisit it later that day, OR even the next day! YOU ARE IN CHARGE, remember?
- Forget the “invisible kids”. Sometimes your inner fraud police busts in and tells you that you should be farther along than you are. We may think “but all those ‘other’ kids in school are doing XYZ, and we need to be up to par!” But I want you to listen closely, lean in a minute mama, this is important: If you are always playing catch up or feeling guilty, know this- you are running an invisible rat race. This is one of the perks of homeschooling- you can give your child the time and resources THEY need. Not what Bobby needs or Mary Sue needs. I have three children, all of whom have different temperaments. Learn to work with them, not against them.
- Switch gears when necessary. This is one of the main reasons I purchase second-hand curriculum (other than the obvious money savings). I don’t want to drop $300 on a yearly package, only to realize my kids…hate it. If your programs, books, and activities don’t work, it’s okay if you use something else (or create your own). Really, it’s fine. Sometimes, I’ll add onto lessons; other times, I create something myself! I mean, sure, I’ve been bummed in the past when certain materials didn’t go over the way I thought they would, but I’m not afraid to chop them. I’ll find another source, hopefully something that is more fun and engaging.
Homeschooling is a wonderful journey, in which you end up learning just as much (if not, more!) than your children.
Enjoy this time. It is special, and you need not beat yourself up about it. I believe in you!
Did I miss something? Add your thoughts in the comments below!