Okay. In all honesty, I still consider myself a rookie homeschooler, even though we are entering our 5th year. I sure don't have it all together and I am still learning every single year, more and more about what it takes to be a homeschooler. But, I do believe that anyone who has been homeschooling ANY length of time can offer tips to anyone just getting started. It's more like helping them not make the same mistakes we did--so they can have a easier and better starting year!
I was so grateful for the ladies who helped guide me through my own first year of homeschooling. It saved my sanity so many times--especially on the days I wanted to throw in the towel. You know that first paragraph I wrote? Yeah, that was me as we kicked off our adventure into Kindergarten and homeschool. I was actually CLUELESS about what to expect...something I learned in trials by fire very early on. LOL. So consider this post a way to help you maneuver through that first year (or second, or third...) to give you confidence even in the days when you want to pull your hair out or cry in a closet.
Let me start with my own tips and then I will share what some other homeschooling mamas tell new homeschooling moms--they have some great advice too!
* Accept that it may NOT go the way you had planned and that it's absolutely okay. Homeschooling is a fluid thing. It will change and then change again. Everything you planned for a year--well, by the end of the year you might discover you went a totally different direction. Accepting that this is not failure or a bad reflection on your skills as a teacher...well that is a tough one. Trust me on this.
* Your children will probably NOT think homeschooling is as great as you do...at least not all the time. Yep. True story. This might even happen the very first week. Whether your child is coming from a public school background, or you are a family that has always homeschooled. There will be days they hate it. And might think longingly about public school and all its fun things. Especially if they've never been...And in those moments, they might not listen to you as you talk about all the ways homeschooling is a better choice for your family. So what do you do? What do you do when they don't want to do anything you ask?
* There will be days when "nothing" gets done and those days might be the most valuable to your homeschooling experience. Remember that education is not about everything they can learn from a textbook. Education is life. Learning is an ongoing experience. Do your children like LEGOS? If they are playing with them, they are doing engineering and math. Spatial recognition. Their brains are analyzing and churning out ideas. Does your child just want to read all day long? Go for it! Since when has reading all day long "ruined" someone's education? Your child is absorbing so much into their brains--spelling, vocabulary, writing--not to mention imagination! Do they want to just go outside and play? Go for it! Nature Study is a forgotten "subject". Let them learn through experiencing the outdoors. Do they just want to play? Fine! We've forgotten over the years how important play is to our learning process!
* There is no "right" way to homeschool because every family is different. All too often new homeschoolers (me!) try to copy someone else's homeschool into their own. It's not going to work. You have different children. You are a different teacher. You really truly have to find your OWN groove. There is no perfect formula. That's why there is SOOO much curriculum out there! Remember that this is probably one of the reasons you chose to homeschool--to be able to cater learning to your child. YOUR child. Try new things. Change it up if need be. When you find something that works--go for it!
There are so many other things I could share...but now I want to pass the baton to some of my homeschool blogging friends (names you might recognize!). They have some great tips for you too!
*Lori of At Home: where life happens says: "It is about the relationship, not the curriculum. The learning will come so don't stress about it. Enjoy the fact that you get to love on your kiddos (even when they are not happy) all day long. Spend the first few days or weeks nurturing the family love and love of learning. Take day trips. Take your books to the park. Visit the museum. Visit the stores for math. Have some ice cream while doing science. Just start by finding the groove of love and nurture."
*Rebecca of Raventhreads shares: "Calm down. Your child will learn on his own timeline--not when the curriculum tells him to. Don't feel a failure if your child can't do something when you expect him to, when their sibling does or when the kids you know that go to public school do."
*Michelle of Delightful Learning advises: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" Colossians 3:23 ~ A veteran homeschool mom gave me this advice when I first started and I've never forgotten it. Over the years, I added Ecc 9:10a and it has been my motto for enriching our hands on learning: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." ♥
*Kym of Homeschool Coffee Break declares: "I tell nervous newbies a couple of things - 1) You can do this! YOU are the expert on your child, and you are invested in their success. No one can possibly care more than you about your own child. 2) You've got about 12 years to cover everything. (depends on what grade they're starting at! LOL) And you don't really need to cover everything anyway - your real job is to teach your child how to learn, and to be a lifelong learner."
*Melanie of Finchwren advises: "You will NEVER regret the time you have with your child! And, "Faithful is He who calls you, who will also do it." If God is calling you to this, He will enable you to do it..thru the good and the hard, the joys and the struggles. Remember that choosing the curriculum is not the most important decision you'll make as a homeschooler even though it may seem like it at the beginning. It's the love, the time, and the relationship you have and spend with your kiddo/s."
*Meg of Adventures with Jude shares: "Learn how your child learns, and THEN pick out curriculum. Don't just pick what appeals to you -- because it can get expensive if you're wrong."
*Joelle of Homeschooling for His Glory admonishes: "homeschooling is not easy and no walk in the park, but worth the effort."
*Diana of Homeschool Review had this to say: "Okay, I guess I failed at what one thing would I say. I guess the reason is because what one thing you would say varies from person to person -- I mean the person who has no money for supplies needs to hear one thing, the person without confidence needs to hear another, etc.
[I will add that she is absolutely correct!!]
What I really liked to say to myself and others, on a particularly "bad" day of home school, has always been: "A bad day at home school is better than a "good day" at public school any day!" Not really advice, but more like reassurance and encouragement."
* Angie of Pebblekeeper shares: "Reconsider trying to recreate public school at home. Most folks dive in trying to prove they are doing a 'better' job than the local school. Consider freedom. Write out goals. Plan a year of ideas and topics, not pkg curriculum. Then look for resources to meet those goals. Consider one topic per month, instead of 7 topics per day. Think outside of the box. Freedom."
*Jennifer of Homeschool Happenings advises: "Forget everything you know about the current educational system!!! Don't feel like you have to follow the school schedule that school kids do. Education is just a part of everyday life."
*Julie of Little Bits of Life keeps it short and sweet: "DONT PANIC!"
* Brittney of Mom's Heart shares: "Relax and follow your child's lead. Don't worry about what the public schooled students are learning, or what history cycle your homeschool friends are doing. Follow your child's interests and passions, and let them fall in love with learning."
* Annette of A Net in Time Schooling says: "One day at a time. As long as the child learns the joy and value of learning, and learns one new thing every day it's all good. :) "
If you can even remember ONE of these tips, your homeschooling experience will be so much smoother. Remember that it is a journey and some days will be all downhill and easy, and then there will be days of super high uphill challenges. But it's normal. It's to be expected. There are a lot of myths about homeschooling out there--don't get suckered into believing them!
Don't give up if you get days where you are pulling your hair out. Run through this list and see if you remembered this advice. I will reiterate what Brittney said...Follow your child's interests and passions. Fan that flame. Encourage it to burn and give them what they need--no matter what style of curriculum it might be--yes, even if you have to put away everything you currently have for them. If it brings them to a love of learning--you are providing the very best you can possibly give.
May you be blessed on your new adventure! I made our first step on that journey 5 years ago and though there have been a lot of rough patches, I have never regretted it and look forward to the rest of the years of our adventure!***
Well that's day 2! I hope you will continue to check in this week for more of my posts during this Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Now I encourage you to visit some of the other homeschool bloggers participating this week! You can find the full list on my anchor post...or you can try some of these lovely ladies:
Rebecca @ Raventhreads
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
April @ ElCloud Homeschool
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy
Annette @ In All You Do
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker***
Do you have advice you would give to a rookie homeschooler not on this list? Do you have advice you were GIVEN when you were a rookie homeschooler?