So you think you want to homeschool. What now? Where do you begin? What do you do?
When we began homeschooling 8 years ago, I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooling. I didn’t know where to begin or who to even ask. But I knew that God was calling me, so I prayed for guidance and then just went for it. I am grateful that He led me almost right away to some wonderful people and resources. He’ll do that for you, too. Maybe He has by leading you here to my blog.
So, I want to share with you some things that I wish I had known or that I quickly (or not so quickly) discovered. Things that have been helpful to me and I believe will be helpful for you as well.
You need a mission statement.
Having a mission statement will help you remember why you are homeschooling. There will be days you will need to know and understand why you have plunged headlong into this process. Maybe you’re having a bad week and want to give up, or perhaps your neighbor has made unkind comments about homeschooling. Whatever the case, having a mission statement to refer to will keep you focused on those important reasons you are homeschooling.
Discipling your kids must be your number one priority.
Nothing else matters if you don’t have the heart of your kids, and if you are unable to direct that heart toward God. Make daily Bible study and prayer a part of your life and that of your children. Teach apologetics. Watch for indications that they are “getting it.” If you need to put away the math book to focus on character training, then do so. For as long as it takes. Everything else can wait.
Write down your goals.
Having goals will help you know at the end of the school year if your kids are on track to learn those things which you found important at the beginning of the year. Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself or them with goals that are too lofty. Feel free to update, change, add-to, subtract-from, or otherwise edit your goals throughout the year, whenever necessary.
Getting connected can make all the difference.
Find your local homeschool group. You will find a wealth of information, friendships for you and your kids, and moms who get it. You can also develop great friendships with online homeschool support groups as well. There are no words to express how important it will be to have other homeschool families in your life for support, ideas, and encouragement. This is especially important if you have kids with any special learning needs (for us, that means ADHD).
Teaching to their passions will create the love of learning.
Kids aren’t much different than the rest of us. They enjoy learning when the subject matter is interesting to them. Even if you don’t make the choice to completely homeschool with a delight-directed approach, make room in the day for the things they care about, express interest in, or request. Make one day a week your fun school day. Don’t worry about gaps. They’re a myth anyway.
You don’t need to go nuts with curriculum.
If I have one regret, it’s the amount of money I have spent on curriculum that we never used. There’s a lot out there, and much of it is wonderful. But there just isn’t time to do it all. So don’t buy it all. Start out with just a few things that look interesting to you and go from there. There are lots of reviews out there to help you as well. One more thing — take a lot of field trips. Your kids will learn and remember more when they have some hands-on experiences to think back on, especially for history. There are amazing field trips for history in every state and country.
Book baskets are the bomb.
One of the best things you can do for your kids is to help them develop a love for reading. Make a book basket for each of your kids and fill it with books that interest them, go along with your studies, or that they want to read. It doesn’t matter if you pull books off the shelf in your home or check out books from the library, just have a plethora of options available. Read aloud to your kids every day, and set aside a time where everyone reads silently, including you! If you have a Kindle, check out my list of 175 free Kindle books for kids.
It’s ok to be a yes mom and let them get messy.
Say yes when they want to create and experiment. Art, crafts, science experiments, nature study . . . it’s all messy stuff. But it’s fun! And kids love fun, messy stuff. Please don’t have the expectation that you can always keep everything neat and tidy. There’s not much they can do that can’t be cleaned up relatively easily. Take the opportunity to help them learn how to clean up after themselves, too!
Do not fear.
Do not be afraid. Do not second guess yourself. Do not doubt your abilities. You can do this. You are smart enough. You are patient enough. Or at least you will be as soon as God has a chance to work on your deficits. No one loves your kids like you do. No one cares more about their education than you do. When God calls us, He equips us. Believe that. Remember that. Even on days you don’t feel capable.
Know that it is worth it.
There’s an old saying, “the days are long, but the years are short.” Never will you understand that statement more than while homeschooling. One day, your baby is starting to read, the next you are trying to figure out high school transcripts. But the days in between can be endlessly frustrating and challenging (and rewarding and amazing!). I promise it’s all worth it. The investment you are making in the lives of your kids, and your relationship with them, by teaching them at home, will bless you. And them.
Should you even have any questions or just need some encouragement, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I would love to talk with you. I would love to encourage you in your efforts. Homeschooling is one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your children. Let’s do this thing together.
If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy 7 Homeschool Mom Tools for a Great New Year.