Ah, the joys of homeschooling!
To me, homeschooling has been one of the best things that I have ever experienced. The joy you get while watching your child out in the world, learning new things by doing and just genuinely enjoying the whole learning experience, is non-other. I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.
That being said, it isn’t always easy and you won’t always be perfect. There are many things that I’ve learned in my few years of homeschooling that I’d like to share with you. These are the things that I wish I had known before I started so that I could save myself a bit of adjustment time.
You don’t have to replicate traditional school
When I first started thinking about homeschooling my kids, I had an idea of what the perfect homeschool would look like. I envisioned myself in a Pinterest worthy home classroom, teaching at the front of the room using a chalkboard and a perfectly chosen, boxed curriculum. My kids would be sitting at their cute little desks, hanging onto my every word. We’d have school Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3 pm and we’d take breaks and vacations when schools did. I then started actually homeschooling and quickly learned to love the flexibility that it can bring.
Right now, we homeschool Monday through Thursday mornings. Sometimes we switch it up if we have appointments or activities but that’s what works for us. Maybe you’d prefer to do it in the afternoons or at night. Or maybe on the weekends. Well, guess what?! You can pretty much do whatever you want to do. You get to choose the schedule that works best for your family. We also work on a 5 weeks on, 1 week off schedule, with a few 2 and 3 week holidays scattered throughout the year. Why? Because that’s what we like and what works us. To read more about our year-round homeschooling read this post.
With homeschooling, the sky’s the limit! Do whatever works best for your family and try to break free of that ‘traditional school’ mindset. Learning can take place whenever, wherever and however you see fit.
Homeschool doesn’t have to take place at home
Get outside! When first starting to homeschool, many people tend to stay indoors, sitting at the table, reading books and working on worksheets. Why? Because that’s what familiar to them. While living books are one my favorite homeschool resources, some of our best learning experiences have been away from the “classroom”. Nature walks or hikes can be turned into an easy science lesson. Focus on a specific animal, insect or object that you find. Take a trip to the library and take out some books on your subject. You can spend the rest of the weeks learning about it.
Field trips can be a fun way to learn as well. Take a trip to the apple orchard and learn all about apples, go to the museum to learn about art. The aquarium is a fun way for both you and your child to learn about sea life and the zoo is a great way to learn about animals. Learning really can be done anywhere. You just need to start thinking outside the box.
It’ll take awhile to get into your groove
It really does take awhile to get into your groove and feel confident in what you’re doing. For some it takes weeks, for others, it’ll take months and for some, it could take up to a year. Everybody is different when it comes to the homeschool learning curve. No matter how long it takes though, just know that you will get there. One day things will just feel like second nature to you. And when that day comes, situations may arise that will sometimes make you feel like you’re back at square one. Your homeschool will be forever changing and each year will bring new and different challenges. As time goes on though, you will feel better equipped to deal with whatever gets thrown your way.
It’s ok to take a break
Life is crazy sometimes. Things come up from time to time. You move, go on vacation, you or your kids get sick or you’re just having an off day. Whatever it may be, just know that it’s ok to take a break sometimes. Even if it doesn’t align with your homeschool “schedule”, TAKE A BREAK if you need to. There’s no point of pushing through a day or a few, just to get it done if your heart really isn’t into it. Sometimes, even just one day off is all you and your kids need to feel refreshed and ready to get back at it.
Related Post: How To Get Started Homeschooling
You don’t need a lot of money to homeschool
While super fun, you don’t need fancy boxed curriculums or expensive supplies to homeschool your kids. If you’re on a tight budget, the library can be an amazing resource for homeschool curriculum. There are books on literally every subject you could possibly think of. You can flip through any educational book and create unit studies based on a particular subject. YouTube and Netflix are also great resources for educational videos. If you have your heart set on pre-made curriculum, there are many websites and Facebook pages for purchasing used curriculum. There really are so many options out there.
It isn’t always easy
You’ll have bad days. Your kids will have bad days. Sometimes it’ll feel way harder than it should and sometimes you’ll just want to throw in the towel and give up. Just know that it’s normal to feel this way and that all of us homeschoolers have felt that way at least once (or twice or 100 times). Those are the days when you need to remember why you started homeschooling in the first place. And remember, for every bad day you have, you’ll have many, many more good ones. Homeschooling is a journey, there will be many ups and downs along the way. It’s all just a part of the process.
You will feel like a failure at times
Homeschooling your children is a HUGE decision on your part. Throughout the years you will second guessing your choices once in awhile. Is Homeschooling right for us? Would my kids be better off in a traditional school? Am I doing a good job? Did I pick the right curriculum? It’s never ending. If your child is having a hard time grasping a concept, you may blame yourself, thinking that you’re just not good at teaching. Just know that this is normal and that it can happen from time to time. At times like this, go back and think about why you started in the first place. Maybe you just need to shake things up in your homeschool or maybe you just need some support. Find some other homeschool moms that you can talk to because chances are they’ve been there too.
Not every child learns the same way or at the same pace
There are 3 styles of learning out there: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. Teaching a Visual learner through read alouds alone can just be frustrating for everyone involved. They just won’t retain the information well. Do your research and figure out which style your child learns best at and you’ll be amazed at the changes you’ll see. Read more about the 3 learning styles here. Also, some kids just need a little more time with certain subjects and that’s ok. That’s the beauty of homeschooling! You can go at your own pace.
Non-homeschoolers just won’t understand
It’ll happen when you least expect it. You see a family member or a friend that you haven’t seen in a while or maybe you’re meeting someone new. You chat for a bit and then the inevitable happens;
Them: How are the kids liking school?
You: It’s been great! They’re really enjoying it.
Them: What grade are they in now?
You: Um…. I guess Kindergarten and Preschool. We homeschool.
Them: Awkward Silence
You: Awkward Silence
Them: Awkward Silence
You: Awkward Silence
Them: Oh…… that’s……..fun…..
You: Yeah, it’s been such a great experience. We’re really loving it!
Them: Oh, someone’s calling me. I’ll be right back (note: they never come back)
The fact of the matter is, some people will judge you and your choice to homeschool. Non-homeschoolers just won’t get whole homeschooling thing and that’s ok. Some people will be vocal about it, while some will just get uncomfortable and quiet. However they respond, just know that the only opinion that really matters is your own (and your spouse and kids of course). The earlier on you realize this, the easier those awkward conversations will be.
You need to find something that’s just for you
Whether it be a hobby, the gym, a sports team, activities with friends or blogging like me, you need something that’s just for you. Something that doesn’t involve the kids or homeschooling in any way (unless you’re like me and truly enjoy blogging about homeschooling) and that allows you to unplug from your day to day tasks. You need it for your sanity. Your whole life revolves around giving to others, you need to take time to do things that interest you. You deserve it, mama!
What are some things that you wish you knew before you started homeschooling? Leave a comment below.