Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Make your homeschool journey a little less bumpy
Today I had coffee with a friend and we reflected on our homeschool journeys. We discussed some hard truths about where things can go wrong in the beginnings of homeschooling. I think, had I been aware of these 5 tips, the road may have been a little less bumpy, and a whole lot less expensive!
1. It will not be picture perfect!
Imagine that perfect picture of homeschooling... cue the sound of music scene… ok, now throw it away because this is not reality! You are setting yourself (and your kids) up for failure, stress and a bucket load of frustration!
What you may think you want your homeschool to look like, in my experience, is pretty far removed from what it actually ends up being. There are a few reasons for this, but it usually always comes back to how your individual child learns.
When my family made our sudden and unexpected change to homeschooling (more on our story here) I had myself convinced I needed to know everything. I bought all the books I could find, I researched until the wee hours of the morning. I had worked myself into such a state of information overload that I ended up buying an overpriced stuffy curriculum that didn't suit us at all!
I freaked and then tried to create school at home, because that was what I was familiar with. I wasn’t being fair to myself and I definitely wasn’t being fair to my kids (sorry my darlings). But I picked myself up off the kitchen floor, wiped my eyes and started again, because this is not a gig you give up on!
It’s important to allow time to get adjusted to this new life. Remember, there is no rush! YOU set the rhythm of your homeschool so give yourself grace and be flexible with lessons, try some different approaches to teaching and, most important of all, have FUN with your kids!
2. Don't be scared into decisions
Remember how I mentioned about panicking and buying that overpriced stuffy curriculum... well, unfortunately many businesses market their products by instilling fear and doubt, claiming to be the answer to all of your concerns. And it is easy to buy into such things when you’re in a vulnerable state!
Take note of how you feel when looking to make a purchase for your homeschool. If you are feeling stressed or panicked, step away and take a moment. If a business has the right product for you, you will naturally come back to it and you can feel much more confident in your purchase and commitment.
Be wary of big box curriculum because they tend to be too rigid with schedules you have to follow, putting pressure on you, your child, and your wallet. Now, that said, don't be a superhero and burn yourself out by trying to create everything from scratch! Start small, try some low cost options out, and learn what works as you go.
Unit studies can be amazing for homeschooling because they are low commitment, easy on the wallet and you’re generally working all subjects into the one theme! Our family have completed lots of unit studies and they have been the most memorable school moments by far.
3. It's no-ones business!
Let's face it, people can be nosy, however well meaning they are. And everyone will ask in one way or another WHY DO YOU HOMESCHOOL? Don't feel pressured to defend your choices. I tend to just say “ It works really well for our family” and leave it at that by changing the subject. Being prepared for the question with a short sentence that you’re comfortable with can really help avoid any uncomfortable disagreements. By all means if you’re happy to talk about your reasons, that’s fantastic. But where we live, it’s not all that common to homeschool and though the numbers are increasing dramatically I find it can attract long and sometimes heated conversations.
4. Finding friends and getting social
There is an abundance of opportunities for connection when homeschooling. When it comes to socialisation I’ve noticed there are two kinds of homeschool styles… the super social, do everything, never at home kind, and the rhythm setting, certain days out, certain days home kind. But before you commit to “all the things”, be aware of how much time you need at home. Just pick what suits your kids the best.
I was surprised at the sheer number of groups there were when we started homeschooling, yet when we attended one, we felt kind of left out and a little put off. Just because we have homeschooling in common, doesn’t mean we will all click! Keep trying casual meet ups. There are usually loads of free homeschool groups on Facebook, try looking for one in your area or start one yourself!
Homeschooling means that you and you kids will inevitably be spending a whole lot more time together. It's important that you establish a great level of communication with them and keep that communication open during the transition to homeschooling.
If your child is resistant to something or acting out, open the conversation and listen carefully. You could be surprised at what a difference this can make, to both your homeschool and to your relationship. The extra time together when homeschooling gives you the opportunity to build a level of mutual respect that is lifelong.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to your journey to homeschooling. And it is a journey... unpredictable, with many ups and downs. It is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. But it is not without it’s rewards! Thanks to homeschooling I have grown as a Mother and an educator, I have learned so much about myself and my kids and we are all better for it. I hope the biggest takeaway you get from reading this is that this homeschool thing is messy for everyone. And your kids do not need you to be perfect, they need you to be present.
Until next time, take care
P.s. Did I miss something?! Have you still got questions? Feel free to contact me with anything you need to know. I’ll always do my best to answer any questions.