Is this your first year homeschooling? Is your head full of worries and thoughts? Are you struggling or concerned that you aren’t doing enough? There is a lot to learn during your first year (and second and third!) there will be some bumps along the way, but you can handle it! Here are some of my tips for the homeschool mom who’s just starting out!
Last week I got a phone call from my high school bestie. She had pulled her son out of school and was struggling with making homeschooling work for them. Later that day I got on Facebook to see a mom in a homeschooling group who was ready to throw in the towel only 3 weeks into her first attempt at homeschooling.
It made me remember how much I struggled as a new homeschool mom, how stress and anxiety filled those first weeks and months were. I remember my son crying at our kitchen table because I wouldn’t give him the answers to his spelling test. I remember sitting in my room later that night crying to my husband, sure I was totally screwing everything up.
Here’s the thing. Homeschooling is not a small undertaking. It is a huge responsibility, a learning curve for us and our kids, and a big adjustment. We have to get our bearings and give ourselves space to figure it all out, but we’re afraid that in the meantime our kids will suffer because we’re not doing all the things that we’re supposed to do.
So here is my advice, what I told my dear friend, what I’ve told every homeschool mom who’s just starting out who has asked my advice, deep breaths momma, you’ve got this.
Chill out – Seriously, chill. While this homeschooling thing is a huge responsibility and can seem daunting you have to relax. The more you stress the more your kids pick up on that stress and things get tense. The more you stress the more pressure you put on yourself and the more you set yourself up for failure. So first and foremost, take a minute to calm yourself!
Chill out some more– Now that you’re calm, we’re going to chill about some other stuff. First, you don’t have to do all the things right away. You are allowed to ease into this endeavour, you don’t have to jump in balls to the wall on day one. That my friend is a recipe for failure. So don’t look at that carefully laid out schedule and feel like you have to check each box. Don’t feel like you have to cover every subject every day and do all the worksheets. Chill. Let yourself get a grip, feel out what time of day is best for your kids, what learning style they have, what rhythm works for your family. Give yourself time to learn how your family functions as a homeschool family!
Don’t try to replicate school at home – Homeschooling is not “School at Home” don’t try to mimic a classroom or a school schedule, or feel the pressure to do everything like it’s done in a school building. Throw that idea right out the window! You have the ability to tweak every aspect of your day and your children’s education to make it work. That might look like science one day a week, reading in the evening, a co-op history class. Likely your homeschool will not resemble “real” school at all. So don’t feel like you need to imitate school. Let your homeschool fall into place
Start where your child is, not where you think they’re supposed to be – If you’re pulling your child out of public school you may have some idea of where you think they should be academically. You have an idea of what they should have learned and what skills they should have. You may be surprised to find out that well…. They don’t. Here’s the thing, if your child has been struggling in school it is likely they got a bad grade on a test and the teacher just moved on. SO your child was left lacking in that skill. The school system keeps moving, they don’t teach to mastery, so what you think they should have learned they might not have. If you find your child is struggling with things it’s a good idea to do a placement test, or start with lessons a couple of grade levels lower to make sure they don’t have gaps in their learning. Don’t stress if they are behind, you have them in a place now where you can bring them up to where they need to be!
Find homeschool friends – Every homeschool mom needs at least one homeschool mom friend. That person that understands when you call and tell them that you literally banged your head on a Geometry book they understand (that has actually happened…. Not my finest moment) If you have a friend who lives far away that you can call, a local group you can join, even a Facebook group where you feel comfortable, there is a wealth of knowledge and support among other homeschool moms.
Know you are making the best decision for your kid – this one is the big one. You pulled your kid out of school or chose to keep them at home to learn for a reason. You did it because you know that it is the best thing for them. You know that what you were doing wasn’t working, that the school system was failing them, that they were being bullied, or whatever your reason was. Your momma gut told you to homeschool your kid and you know that is what they need. Keep that in your mind, in your heart, and lead with it. If something feels amiss listen to your gut, if your struggling or your child is struggling, take a breath and time to regroup. You are making the decision every day to dedicate your time and energy to your child and their education, and that is the heart of it all. Give yourself some grace, patience, and know that while it may take a little while to find your groove you will find it, and your child and family will benefit!
Remember that homeschooling is a journey, it has its twists and turns, its bumps and its smooth spots, you will experience a ton of ups and downs, moments of victory and moments that want to make you tear your hair out. I’m here to tell you though that it is worth it. I would not trade the relationship that homeschooling has given me with my kids for the world. The time that I have gotten to spend with them and all the things we’ve learned together!
So stick with it, the first part is always a little tricky!