I have been homeschooling my eight children for eleven years. There have been ups and downs, of course. Here is a question I’ve been contemplating this last week: If I could go back and start over again, what advice would I give yourself? What might I have done differently? What would I want new homeschoolers know before they start? And what have been my biggest learning moments? So, today, I share with you Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before Homeschooling.
How much I would enjoy it!
I have thoroughly enjoyed homeschooling. It’s such a blessing to be there with my kids and see them grow through their academics just as I have gotten to see them grow from a baby to a walking toddler to a talking preschooler. What a joy to see them finally start reading or have the lightbulb go on for a math concept, to see them get to the point where they can write a paragraph on their own or give a speech with poise in front of a roomful of people.
I’d often be second-guessing myself
Yes, it’s true. Even though I’m a confident person and even have a degree in teaching, I sometimes doubt whether I’m the best person for this job. I get impatient. I try a curriculum and it doesn’t work. My kids don’t seem to be learning. But, you know, it comes down to this. Who else loves my kids and cares about their education more than my husband and me? No one.
I need to keep good records, not for our state, but so that I would see the progress we’ve made
Doing this (when I have done it) has given me a great deal of confidence. In the early years when I was homeschooling two elementary aged kids, had two preschoolers, a baby, and was pregnant again, I simply had a chart that listed everything we could possibly do during the day (read a book, watch an educational movie, go to the park, watch a sign language video, practice handwriting, listen to an audio drama, play with play-doh, paint a picture, practice cutting with scissors, work on a lapbook, go to the library, do a math game, etc., etc.) I would circle everything we did that day so that I could see we really were accomplishing things!
There are always so many who have gone before me who are ready to encourage me
It has been essential that I sought out these ladies. They were curriculum writers that I talked to at homeschool conventions or the bloggers who gave me awesome parenting tips, craft ideas, or curriculum ideas or the moms at my church who would give me the boost I often needed to tackle the next week.
Homeschooling high school is great!
Many homeschoolers (at least when I was starting out) would say, “I’m just taking it one year at a time.” I never thought that way. I always expected that we would homeschool high school. This year we actually sent our oldest to public school as a sophomore, though. I didn’t want to, but it was the best choice for his situation. I loved homeschooling him as a high schooler last year and am enjoying homeschooling my second son who is a freshman this year. High school the best time to connect to them about the things that really matter in life. They are almost out of the home, and we only have a few years left. Make it count with them!
Not watching TV in the early years was one of the best decisions we made
My husband and I didn’t watch TV when we got married. We had both had times of being addicted to TV, so we knew the dangers of it. When I had my first child, I determined not to let it get a hold of me again. So, we never had the TV on at all during the day. I would allow my kids an educational video around 4 pm every day. Things have relaxed a bit in the evening and weekends, but we still never have the TV on during the day.
The flexibility would be perfect for our family life
When we started homeschooling, I had no clue how many pregnancies I’d have. Years of newborns and breastfeeding and napping babies and toddlers has made homeschooling perfect for us to make our family life work.
Memory-making activities will be what I’m more happy that I did than heavy academics
I love all the field trips and art projects and science experiments–all that messy, time-consuming stuff that we have done. Those are the things that my kids will remember, too! They will look back with joy remembering the things that brought us together as a family.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to look like school (and it’s better if it doesn’t)
I probably would have made our homeschool more like school if I had been able to. But as I mentioned above about how the babies kept coming, I simply wasn’t able to. So, I adjusted and did what I could. One day I was explaining to a friend of mine who was considering taking her kids out of school to homeschool them what I did after lunch every day. I would get all my nappers to bed and then get everyone else on my bed in my bedroom. I would read books (for science, history, literature, Bible, and sometimes other subjects as well) until I got so tired I couldn’t anymore. Then, school would be done for the day and they kids would be sent to play in their rooms or the basement so I could try to sleep. I rarely actually fell asleep, but even the resting helped me immensely. It worked for us, and is totally different than how a “school” would do it!
Not to feel guilty or have regrets
I had so many homeschooling friends who did these great classes and co-ops for many years. But we didn’t do them. I was adamant in keeping my baby’s nap schedule, so we rarely went anywhere in the afternoons from about 1-3 p.m. I did feel guilty about that for my older kids. Now, I realize it was a great decision for all of us. Now, we no longer have nappers (including me!) and we do lots of classes and a homeschool co-op. It has worked out just perfectly.
I couldn’t fit it all in just this one post today. Check out Ten MORE Things I Wish I Knew Before Homeschooling, which will be published soon!
Do you have questions about what to do to prepare for homeschooling? Please leave in the comments or join the discussion at this Facebook post!