Last fall, my husband looked at me and said, “I’d kind of like you to homeschool next year. Think about it.” Those words set my family on a path sure to change our life – and I’m ready to talk about it!
We started thinking about homeschooling about 5 months ago – and honestly, it wasn’t an easy choice, but it’s been an exciting one. Over the past few months, I’ve done a ton of research, and have spent lots of time talking with other homeschooling families. Once you make that choice to start homeschooling, a few things happen – some expected and some that fly at you out of left field.
Over the next few months, you might start to see a few more posts about homeschooling. My hope is to approach homeschooling with the same honesty, transparency, and acceptance I use when talking about parenting and motherhood. For those of you who have ever wrestled with, thought about, or even briefly contemplated homeschooling, I wanted to share a list of things that happen to those of us who decide to make that leap.
1. The Emotional See-Saw
You are going to experience a simultaneous fear and excitement – almost like finding out you’re going to be a parent. You will be on cloud nine one day, confident and assured in your decision, and scared out of your mind the next – wondering why on earth you decided to do this. “I’m so excited we’re going to homeschool next year! I can’t wait for all of the wonderful things we’re going to do and learn together!” “Oh my word I decided to homeschool. What am I doing? I’m not sure I can do this.” Those sentences can often come back to back, or wash over you in waves. It’s normal to seesaw. It’s normal to doubt. It’s normal to be giddy like a kid in a candy store. You’re normal. (I promise.)
Let your excitement build. Remind yourself WHY you chose this, and watch the fear start to subside. (Until it comes back next Tuesday….and then repeat!)
2. Expect the FLAK
When you make the decision to homeschool, many will support and applaud you…..and many will be SUPER quick to throw in their two cents on why you’ve just decided to screw up your children. (their words – not mine!)
Friends, family members, and complete strangers will feel it is their place and right to comment on your choice. Some people just get confused, and don’t remember who is their child and who isn’t. 😉
This part isn’t easy. Not everyone has a thick skin or is able to channel their inner Taylor Swift and just “shake it off.” You need to mentally prepare for the comments and the onslaught of negativity you will receive. While homeschooling is becoming more widely accepted, this is still not a popular choice. You WILL be put down. You WILL be questioned. People will tell you how much they fear for your children. I’m sorry in advance. It’s part of the deal – like the sad orange slice and parsley that comes with the meal. (Just “eat up” the good stuff, and throw their junk away!)
3. Uh…Can I Get a Research Assistant?
Oh the research! When you make the choice to homeschool, pack it in for the next few months because baby – you’ve got some research to do! There are SO many different ways to homeschool. There are different methodologies to research, curriculums to sort through, co-ops to investigate – it can be intimidating, exhausting, and exhilarating! (I will post more about all the methods later to help you out!) There is A LOT to figure out in the world of homeschooling. Don’t let this hold you back or make you doubt yourself. It’s a lot to wade through – but it’s super important!
4. It Has to Work For YOUR Kids
About that research….There are so many different ways to homeschool – and not every method will work for every kid. When you dig through all the information about homeschooling, you have to keep your child’s specific needs in mind. Where some kids flourish, others will become frustrated. Certain types of curriculum work for visual learners and not auditory learners. Some programs are great for kids who need movement, but may frustrate those who prefer a more typical learning environment. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Shop around with your kids in mind.
5. It Has to Work for YOU
Saying this out loud probably makes me controversial in some circles. But let’s get real for a second – if the methodology, curriculum, or programming you select doesn’t work for you, you’re going to burn out. And I’ll be really honest here. I’ve been around teachers who hated coming to work every day. And ya know what? They weren’t very effective teachers. You are going to be more effective as a teacher, have more energy to give, and have the stamina needed to wake up and press on every morning (even when yesterday went terribly!), if you LIKE what and how you’re teaching.
6. Nevermind the Jones’s
It’s going to be really tempting to do what your seasoned homeschooling friend does. You may find yourself saying, “Oh, Marjorie is so happy and her kids are really excelling. I’m going to order everything she uses and attend her co-op.” Well, it’s great that your friend is doing something that works for her – but again, you have to do what works for you and your kids. You’re not her. Your kids are not her kids. ALL kids learn differently and have different needs. All teachers have unique strengths and areas of weakness. You can’t structure your entire homeschooling experience based on what someone else is doing.
7. You’re a Homeschooling Parent Too?!!
There is a strange “kinship” that happens once you make the leap into the homeschooling community. Women you’ve never met hug you at the store. People warmly congratulate you and encourage you. Homeschooling moms are there to provide you with ideas, support, and reassurance. It’s an incredible community of parents. You may also feel the desire to
stalk connect with other homeschooling families on social media. Dabble around on Twitter for a second – you’re going to find HUNDREDS of moms with #homeschooler in their profile – ready to “talk shop”, answer your questions, and give you encouragement. Most homeschooling parents LOVE to talk about it, and will be there for you whether they know you or not. It’s a beautiful thing.
I’m going to be here too – walking you through my new adventure. I’m just figuring this all out – but that might be helpful for you to see too!
8. Hello Mom Guilt
Bleh. I hate mom-guilt. It’s just as bad as that dumb pooch of skin that sticks around our belly years after we have our kids. Sadly, it’s going to come along with the decision to homeschool. To varying amounts, each homeschooling mom will experience a bit of guilt from time to time. You’ll feel guilty that your child won’t get to ride a bus to school or make a fruit loop necklace on the 100th day of classes. You’ll worry that the “First Day of School Picture” on the porch just won’t be as special. You’ll feel guilty over tiny things. Big things. Things the world and those negative nelly’s we talked about earlier put in your head.
Do your best to drop that useless bag of guilt and rest in your decision. You didn’t decide to do this because you wanted the worst for your child. You picked this because you thought it was best for your family. Remember that when guilt pops up to say hello and ruin your day.
9. The Gathering
There’s just something about deciding to become a homeschooler that heightens your “hunting and gathering” abilities. You’ll be at a yard sale and see something that will make science fun. You’ll find a picture book and know how to turn it into a lesson. Where others see trash, you’ll see materials for art, science, and other hands-on projects. You’ll walk by bins at Target and daydream about what maniuplatives you could store in them. You start to see materials, objects, and books in a different way as a homeschooler and definitely take on the mindset of, “Could I use this to teach my children something?”
Now we’re cooking! The massive onslaught of ideas that will start to come to you may overwhelm you – but in the very best way! You’re going to have a million ideas of things you want to try, stuff you want to teach your kids, unit studies you’d like to do, products you want to check out, field trips you want to take….I could go on and on! Start lists so you don’t lose your ideas! Open a document in Google Drive. Start a file in “Notes” on your phone. Carry a notebook. When you get an idea, see a product, pass by a cool place – WRITE IT DOWN! Get excited about your ideas. Your excitement and energy will make a difference when you start! (And it might even see you through a few of the bad days!)
Homeschooling is a journey, a process, and an adventure – and I will do my best to walk through it with you – sharing my ups and downs, my ideas (both the good and the bad!), and glimpses into our learning adventures. I’m excited to keep sharing with you! Make sure you’re following on Twitter or Facebook, or that you’re signed up for our weekly emails!