I cannot believe this year marks our fifth year of homeschool. Looking back at the first year of homeschool, I wish I knew then what I know now. Don’t get me wrong; I have no regrets about deciding to homeschool, but when I first started this journey I had it all wrong.
I thought I had to fit into a mold. I don’t know exactly what mold I was trying to fit into, but I didn’t fit and trying to force it was only making things worse. I had read all kinds of blogs and posts about how with homeschool you didn’t need schedules and books, and your kids could learn anywhere and everywhere. I stressed myself out trying to turn my crazy pre-planning overly organized self into a no-schedule needed homeschool mom. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. I stressed myself out trying to be something I’m not.
I am going to share some secrets with you that will hopefully make your first year of homeschool more enjoyable:
- There is no mold for homeschool! The amazing thing about doing your child’s schooling at home is that you can cater it to your and their needs. If your child needs more time on a subject, they can have it; if your child flew through a topic and did a week’s worth of work in a day, you can move on. It’s all up to you and your child, which leads me to my next point…
- Don’t stick so closely to a schedule that you are afraid to get “behind.” I was guilty of this in my first few years of homeschooling. The kids would have a hard time with a subject and instead of slowing down to let them learn at their pace, I stressed about getting “behind” according to the lessons (the schedule I made). The schedule is FLEXIBLE for a reason, so don’t stress trying to keep up with a schedule that you created. Schedules can be changed and should be when needed. Homeschool doesn’t have to be modeled after traditional school! This point was huge for me; when we first started, I tried to make homeschool as close to traditional school as possible. When that didn’t work, I felt like it was a “me” issue, when in reality it was never supposed to be like traditional school. This is the beauty of homeschool — it is customizable for each child.
- There are ups and downs, but it’s supposed to be this way. I cannot count the number of times I said, “I don’t think I am getting through to them” or “How do I know I am teaching them enough?” Only to later witness the “Ah-ha” moment, which is my favorite moment of homeschool. What is an “Ah-ha” moment, you ask? It is the moment you see that little lightbulb come on and the lessons they have been working so hard on suddenly click. This moment for me is the highlight of homeschool; it makes it all worth it.
- Schooling can be done anywhere! Have appointments and no “classroom” time? Take along some of the work. I have found a change of scenery mixes things up and the kids (and I) really enjoy it.
- Join a homeschool group or co-op! My first few years of homeschooling I felt so alone and overwhelmed. I didn’t know there were homeschool groups and co-ops, but once I found them, our entire outlook changed! We love meet ups with other homeschool families and we love our co-op. But most of all, I love the connection I have formed with other moms and dads that are either going through similar experiences or have already been through them. It’s nice to have community.
- Last but certainly not least, enjoy it. I know at times it can be overwhelming, but the years are short and before you know it, you are looking back over the last four years swearing it was just yesterday when your journey began.
Over the years, our homeschool style has changed; we have adapted as we saw what each child needed. We have made learning fun and hands-on when we could by having science lessons outside and planting things or taking a family field trip to the aquarium or Mayfield dairy. We make lessons into games, we explore interests, we work hard. We laugh, we love and we learn.