After much deliberation and asking around, you have finally decided to try homeschooling. But it can be a little scary to take the road less traveled, especially when you don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out! Here is what you need to know as a first-time homeschooler.
Video: What You Need to Know As A First-Time Homeschooler
The Wonderful Gift of Homeschooling
As a mom who has been homeschooling for 14 years with one graduate and nine more children coming up behind, I want to say first of all that you are embarking on an incredible adventure with your kids. Little did I know all those years ago what a lifestyle change homeschooling would bring to our family. Homeschooling has been an incredible blessing. The more I see our kids develop so many varying interests and and pursuits, the more convinced I have become that our decision to homeschool is one of the best choices we ever made for our kids!
Having said that, I also want to say that if you have not realized it yet, homeschooling is also hard. It’s the road less traveled. It’s not easy being with kids all day. Sometimes it’s tempting to do what everyone else is doing and put your kids on the school bus so you can have a little more time in your day. Because of this, I want to caution you with some challenges you will likely face this first year (as I did) so that you can be prepared for them and know how to respond when they happen.
What Works In School Does Not Work As Well At Home
If you have delved into the homeschool world at all, you have probably heard people say, “Don’t try to copy school.” This is such wise advice and you should really aim to follow this in every way possible. In fact, I believe the school model is so ingrained into so many of us (because it is all we know) that we do this even after knowing it doesn’t work as well. In fact, after I had been homeschooling for a couple of years, sometimes I would come across problems in our homeschool that when I looked a little more closely, I realized it was because I was copying the school model. Homeschooling works best when we let learning happen naturally. Here are some of the ways that I unwittingly copied school until I realized there was a better way.
- Cramming everything in to “finish 2nd grade curriculum” by the end of the year.
- Letting the curriculum be my master rather than using it as a tool to help me.
- Thinking of school as only September through May. (Every day is school. Life is school!)
- Letting school take priority above our home life. (So many of the every day house work chores we do are opportunities to teach our kids important life skills!)
- Not being flexible with learning times like evenings and weekends, especially when these changes work better for our family life.
I challenge you, when you face struggles in your homeschool, really look at how you are structuring your work and see if possibly, you might be operating in a “school mindset.”
You Will Probably Worry That You Aren’t Doing Enough
At some point in your first year, you will probably ask yourself, “Am I doing enough?” When lunchtime comes and you’ve done everything you had planned, you may wonder what you are missing. The reason moms doubt themselves on this is because homeschooling takes so much less time than traditional school. Because you are working one-on-one with your child, you can get finished in half the time.
If you find yourself wondering if you are “doing enough,” use this general metric as a guide.
- Do some reading, writing, and math every day.
- Read frequently to your kids throughout the day. (This will cover any perceived gaps you think you might be missing.)
It Is Normal to Be Overwhelmed by the Curriculum
One of the most difficult parts of homeschooling, for me, was the initial step of picking out the curriculum. Having had no experience, I didn’t know my style, my child’s learning type, what our routine would be, etc. I had no idea where to start. Additionally, after I picked our curriculum, it was all new to me, so the challenge of learning the method and rhythm of the content was also new.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the curriculum, I suggest you find a few moms who have been homeschooling for several years. Ask them what curriculum they like and why. Chances are, most homeschool moms have tried a few different companies and can give you some great insight into what they liked or didn’t like. This can be so helpful for you in determining what you want. Also, once you have decided on a particular choice, as another homeschooler who also uses the same curriculum for suggestions on how she uses it.
The First Year is the Hardest
So many who try homeschooling throw in the towel after the first year. In my opinion, they have done the hardest part and quit just before seeing any of the fruit. Homeschooling gets much easier with time. This is a complete lifestyle change for the whole family. It really takes a while for everyone to adjust. That first year is often your learning curve. You make tons of mistakes. It’s the second year and the third when you ease into yourself and find your rhythm.
The natural, fluctuating environment of a home is a stark contrast to the structure of a brick and mortar school where kids sit in desks in a single room. In a home, a host of interruptions are likely to occur. When you have babies and toddlers nearby, laundry that needs to be run, meals to make…(the list goes on,) you can be certain that you will not lack for distractions in your day. If you are a first-time homeschooler, the constant interruptions may catch you off guard. If only it was as easy as kids sitting a desk and quietly completing all their work. I promise you, it doesn’t work that way in homeschooling!
The way to handle interruptions is to let learning happen naturally. Learn how to respond to these distractions and teach your kids how to respond as well. For more ideas on this topic, I’ve written this post about homeschooling struggles which you may find helpful.
Don’t Be Surprised When People Criticize or Question You
If you are the first in your family or group of friends to homeschool, don’t be surprised when people criticize your choice. Homeschooling is different and most people are unfamiliar with it. They may even tell you wild stories about “that one family” that “ruined” their kids by homeschooling.
Here’s what you should know. When it is a family member who questions you, often it is out of a genuine concern for you and your kids. I find that people who have never been homeschooled know very little about it. When they begin to see how well your kids are doing (and this often takes a couple of years), they will question you less. Give it time.
Leave a Comment!
If you are a first-time homeschooler, I’d love to hear how it’s going! What questions do you have that I haven’t covered in this post? Let’s keep the conversation going!
Pin It for Later!
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!