Take a deep breath.

Homeschooling is not a destination you have to reach on a specific date or in a specific way. It is not a goal you have to run toward until you finally arrive. You don’t have to have a perfect plan for every year. You don’t have to have it all set in stone. You don’t have to be able to see the end of the road in order to get started in the right direction.

Homeschooling is a journey and each day is just a step. It’s a way of life. You can make decisions each moment along the way and your plans can change, grow, and develop.

You don’t have to be the one to figure everything out on your own. This is a journey where your kids can help with the navigation. Draw up a map with a few destinations along the way (learning to read, understanding multiplication, earning highschool credits, serving in the community). Ask your kids if they would like to visit any specific stops (ballet classes, robotics competitions, science camp). And of course, be willing to go the extra mile to learn more when something piques their interest. You decide how to reach each destination and you decide your method of transportation.

Your form of transportation may involve riding through each year on various curricula. It may involve hopping on the co-op train a few times a week. Maybe the local tutorial takes you really far and allows you to do some sight-seeing. One-on-one tutoring can be a great vehicle when you’re trying to reach a destination quickly. And don’t forget that field trips and extracurriculars can help you fly to self-discovery!

At some points, the terrain is a bit more challenging to cross. For some students, reading is the top of a jagged mountain, and they need a secure harness and strong ropes to help pull them to the top. It may take longer than expected, but remind them that the view at the top is worth it and that they don’t have to climb alone. Once they stand atop “reading mountain”, the other mountains tend to be easier to maneuver.

The companions that travel alongside your family are important too. Families rarely take the exact same roads, but it’s great when your paths cross at various locations. You may meet at church activities or at theatre rehearsal and soccer practice. Sometimes family members make the best travel companions but be open to carpooling with friends too. Remember to interact with travelers as you pass by – they may know more about certain areas on the map. Stop when you see someone struggling on the side of the road and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you ever have a flat tire. These are important lessons for your kids to learn.

One of the best parts of the adventure of homeschooling is that even after 12 years of destinations, experiences, and discoveries, your kids will probably invite you to come along on other trips throughout their life. You may not be a perfect navigator, but if you can remain calm when you get lost and if you can play fun games when it feels like you’re stuck in traffic, you will be a worthy companion. If you’re willing to take some back roads just to see where they lead and if you focus on your kids’ enthusiasm for what they see along the way, you will be remembered as an excellent driver. Even when it’s time for you to take a backseat and hand over the keys, you’ll probably be welcomed on more excursions.

So as you prepare your map for the coming year and the years down the road, prioritize the journey rather than the destination. Be sure that your kids have the opportunity to recommend some routes and stops along the way. Take a deep breath; you’ll get where you’re going.

  • Bryanna Ruesche