We are starting our fifth year of homeschooling, and while I wouldn’t say we are veterans, I like to think I have a tiny bit of wisdom in which I can give a few pieces of advice to new homeschoolers.
Homeschooling can be fun, but you have to be relaxed to have fun! When’s the last time you had fun and you were feeling uptight? Probably never. The first month (or year) is really about getting a routine and a new normal. Especially if you’re coming from a traditional school setting, it can take a while to get used to everyone being at home all the time. Just relax and…
2. Take one thing at a time
A journey is comprised of a million single steps. Find what your goal is for the day and for the week and work on that. Ever heard of the word procrastipated? Ha! I just heard of it this last week and it describes what happens when you have too much to do and you end up doing nothing because it’s too overwhelming. Well, give yourself just one thing to do for half the day, then one thing after that.
3. Mistakes will happen
You’re not perfect. No one is. It’s okay that we make mistakes, but just make sure to recognize it and learn from it. Some mistakes are old habits, but other mistakes are just part of the learning curve. Homeschooling really is an exercise for the parent as much as the child in self discipline and you’ll learn a lot about yourself over the years!
4. One year will not break your child
There are some months where it seems like there are more mistakes than successes. Even if you make little to no progress for the entire year, it will not ruin your child. Each of us can have an off year and recover from it. Of course know when to enlist outside help, if needed, but don’t beat yourself up if one year is a “family growth” year. The younger the child is, the more forgiving you can be in this regard because you have time to make it up. High school is a bit harder to be forgiving, but there are more outside options for a child to take part in. Also remember, if your child graduates at 19 years old instead of 18, it’s not going to ruin their life!
5. Get out
We all love our kids, but there are times we need to get out for a while and hang up our Mom hat. Just grabbing a cup of coffee with the husband or a friend, or even going my yourself to read a book, knit, whatever. There have been times I’ve been really frustrated for whatever reason and I’ll go to an amusement park with a friend and go on the super fast and scary rides! Wow, it’s a great way to let off some steam, and a great way to get all that screaming out of your system in a healthy way!
6. Get your kids out
The kids need to run around, climb, play, discover, and see new things. It’s also arguably good for their immune system to be out in the world versus staying in their own environment all the time. Get away from the books on a regular basis and just go out and explore!
7. Stay in
Am I contradicting myself? No, but I want to make the point that there should be balance. For some people, going out to be with people can be draining and they need to be at home to rejuvenate. Even if you’re an extrovert, sometimes it takes having a full day at home to get caught up on lesson planning, laundry, cleaning, menu planning, etc. Balancing your “in” days and “out” days can help balance your school and every day tasks.
Humans thrive on routine (to a point), especially when it comes to learning. If we know generally what to expect on a daily basis, we can learn new things easier. Why do you think it’s so hard for a mother of a young child to learn things? Every day can be so different and unpredictable, it’s hard to take in even more new information. At least, that’s part of my theory of Mom Brain. Keep a general schedule, and things will chug along fairly smoothly.
9. Be fluid
Again, balance is needed. Don’t be so rigid in trying to be consistent that you don’t allow for anything outside of your norm. Be like a tree that can bend in the wind, but not like a leaf that changes direction at the slightest breeze.
10. Forgive yourself
Remember you’ll make mistakes, and you won’t live up to the high ideals you have, and maybe others have for you. Homeschooling is a relationship you’re building with your children, and your children are building with learning. All relationships require an element of forgiveness.