In the past year, I have been contacted by twelve moms who wanted to learn more about homeschooling. Since December I have had five moms contact me stating she has decided to begin homeschooling next fall. Each of these mom's questions are the same. I want to share here what I have shared with them. If that many moms have contacted me, I'm sure there are others who have similar questions who haven't.
To The Mom Considering Homeschool:
So you're thinking about homeschooling? Welcome to this amazing and scary journey! I know you are excited, scared to death, nervous and wondering what you've gotten yourself into.
Here's how I would suggest you proceed:
- The very first thing I suggest is that you list why you want or are going to homeschool. The Mr. and I made our list of just three reasons within the first few days of making our decision. It hung on the fridge for a couple of months, until I tucked it away. Whatever your reasons, you need to have them written down and refer to them often.
- Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states but each state has different legal requirements and you need to know what they are. You can find your state's laws here.
- Read! Read! Read! Titles I would recommend would be:
- Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education by John Taylor Gatto.
- Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Child a Real Education with or Without School by Grace Llewellyn
- So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: 15 Families Show How You Can Do It by Lisa Welchel
- The Homeschooling Option: How To Decide When It's Right For Your Family by Lisa Rivero
- You should probably read at least one book by John Holt, just to say you did.
- Next, reach out to the homeschooling community in your area. Whether it be online, a co-op, another family, a large group, etc. find people who can relate to you and support your decision.
- Get to work researching curricula based not only on your children's personalities and learning styles but also YOUR personality. It must work for you too or you will hate the curriculum.
- Some of my favorite curricula are: All About Spelling, Math-U-See, I See Sam Readers, Charlotte Mason Memorization Method and Confessions of a Homeschooler Literature Units. Just because we love these curricula, doesn't mean you will! You're going to have to find what you like and that happens through trial and error.
Q: I look at how ___________ homeschools and don't think I could do it like them. I'm not as amazing or patient or talented as ___________.
A: Do not compare your homeschool to another homeschool. You must do what works for your family. I love to read blogs to get ideas and inspiration. They are very motivating to me. However, if blogs are discouraging to you, then don't read them! If you find yourself feeling down or comparing, stop reading!
Q: Don't you ever get overwhelmed?
A: YES! I do get overwhelmed, but it doesn't last long and I've figured out ways to manage those feelings. When I am frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed, it is the perfect time for me to model for my children how to appropriately handle stressful situations. Last week we had a totally crummy day. We did our morning work and I called it a day after that. When The Mr. got home from work that night, I left and roamed the aisles of Dollartree for awhile then went to dinner by myself at a local bakery. I ate my dinner in silence as I read. I was only away for 1 1/2 hours, but it was all I needed to rejuvenate.
Q: But what about all of my other responsibilities?
A: I love the saying, "Inspire not require." When children see their parents following their own passions, obligations and responsibilities, it is a wonderful example to them. If I sit down to read or play the piano, I am inspiring my children. The message is: We don't read (or play instruments) because we HAVE to, reading (playing the piano) is enjoyable.
Maybe you're worried you might have to sign mortgage papers or buy a car or run to the bank or help your neighbor with something or go to the doctor and that would interfere with homeschooling your children. Well, your mentality will shift quickly and you will soon see that those experiences are huge learning experiences for your kids! If you're worried about keeping a tidy home, that's where the kids come in! Order, cleanliness, laundry, meal preparation, grocery shopping, budgeting, home/auto maintenance and repair are important skills to learn!
Q: Don't you ever get sick of your kids?
A: Sure do. I often want to ship them all off to China, but the more time I spend with them, the less time I feel like I need to be away. When I start to have a lot of time away from them, I feel like I need more and more time away. We have a strict bedtime in our home for this exact reason!
Q: I have a hard time helping my child with homework, so I worry I'm not going to be able to homeschool.
A: I actually have zero, zilch, no experience helping a child with homework, so I'm probably not the best person to answer this. But here's how I see it: I am personally invested in everything my children do in homeschool. I selected the material, I am excited about seeing them learn this certain thing. I think it matters. I printed that worksheet for a reason. I asked for that test to be done. I gave that assignment. The work your child does in homeschool will personally matter to you. You know the purpose behind everything they do. If you are helping with math, you were also there for the lesson, so if your child doesn't understand something you know why and where the gap or misunderstanding is.
Q: How do I homeschool with a new baby?
A: I don't know. I'll let you know in a couple of months. :) I assume it will be like everything else in homeschool: you make changes. You shift. You ebb. You flow. You modify. Perhaps the baby is the lesson.
Please remember the days are not perfect. Your house will be messier than it would be if the kids were gone all day, but that's okay. The house will be noisy. But that's okay. The children will fight. But you will see the older ones begin to teach the younger ones. This is a phenomenon I've heard about from other homeschoolers and I've begun to see it in our home as Mowgli helps Bud read, do math and learn to play chess.
Enjoy the journey.
The days are long but the years are short.