I graduated from public school. I never considered homeschooling. I never wanted to homeschool. But there I was, left with no other option. Well, at least no good one.
I had questions. EVERYONE had answers. But they were all different. Don’t get me wrong, they all meant well but it was SO overwhelming. Do this curriculum…go to this event…make sure you do all these subjects…use an all-in-one…this book plus this book is the way to go… It was a lot! And when I say a lot, I mean incredibly-difficult-for-a-first-timer-to-navigate a lot. I definitely didn’t become a “homeschooler” overnight.
Fast-forward 7 years and I have a senior about to graduate and another one halfway through with high school. How did I survive that first year without pulling all my hair out? I didn’t, I’m now bald (just kidding, we made it). But I had to learn some lessons along the way.
- You can’t BE everyone. — You don’t have the same gifts as Mary down the street. You don’t teach the same as her. Your kids don’t learn the same way as her kids. Figure out what works for you and your family and do that.
- You can’t please everyone, not even your kids. — Sometimes it feels like everyone’s a critic. So stop trying to make everyone else happy. What is best for your family might not make sense to them and that is okay. To top that off, your kids may even get mad at you or grumble because of your choices or decisions today. But trust me, they’ll thank you for it tomorrow.
- Stop comparing yourself. — With who? Anyone. Everyone. JUST DON’T DO IT. (See #1) God gave your kids to you to raise for a reason. He knows why. Just trust Him.
- Take a break. — If today is your no-good, very bad day, then stop. Take a break. Maybe even for the rest of the day. Come back tomorrow and try again. It’s okay to step away and most likely it’s the best thing for all of you. Besides, reading a book, cooking dinner, and being in nature all count as school anyway. And that brings me to…
- Homeschooling doesn’t always look like you think it should. — And it really shouldn’t. We are not recreating public school at home. We are teaching our kids to love learning so they can become lifelong learners and eventually develop skills to be independent learners. There are so many ways to do school, both inside the books and out. Figure out where you and your kids land and run with it. Look into the ideas that appeal to you. Ask people who’ve done that before. Call and talk to your counselor for guidance. And finally…
- Get to know your kids. — Take a step back from school for your first few weeks. I learned this later and wished someone had told me this from the start. Take the time to find out what your kids like to do. Show them the things you like. You may have lots in common to connect over. Or you may teach each other new things and find new interests. Have FUN! Play games, visit museums, go on scavenger hunts. Gradually you’ll learn ways to introduce curriculum into what you’re doing and realize you’ve been schooling all along. But most importantly, you’ll learn to connect with your kids on their level and find out what they really want to learn about. And you’ll teach them one of the most important lessons they could ever learn, a lesson about LOVE and FAMILY.
Really, isn’t that why you’re doing this anyway? Doing what is best for your family, even if you feel like you didn’t choose this? So, take a deep breath and let all the thoughts saying what you “have to do” go away. You’ve got this. You can do it and we are here when you need us.
- Rachel Adams