When you’re first considering homeschool, whether it is your child’s first educational experience or you’re switching paths, it’s an exciting and potentially overwhelming time. So many choices! So many options! Which curriculum do I use? Wow, look at all the fun, character-building, educational activities that are available! LET’S DO ALL THE THINGS!
Whoa. Pump the brakes. Take a breath.
You will have a much more successful, much more peaceful and satisfying time if you ease into things. There is no one correct homeschool path; that’s the beauty of homeschooling. You have the opportunity to make it your – and your student’s – own unique, custom learning path. You may feel pressured or overwhelmed to make big decisions right away, before you feel fully informed or ready. Keep in mind, there are very few hard and fast deadlines once you decide to homeschool. There are no “shoulds” when it comes to where your student should start, or where they should be at a certain age. Grade levels are provided for the convenience of schools so they can place students with similarly aged peers; it can make it easier to teach a large group, but you don’t have that problem. You can start where you are, and as long as you can demonstrate progress in some way in the subjects your state requires, you will be just fine.
Talk to experienced homeschoolers. These savvy veterans can give you great advice on how to make things work from day-to-day and year-to-year. But keep in mind, your homeschool experience is just that: yours.
But not everyone has access to a community of wise, experienced homeschoolers…or do they? The internet has a plethora of resources. There are homeschool bloggers who write on all kinds of topics, and most of them keep it real. We’ve included advice for new homeschoolers from six of our personal favorites. Their blogs are great places to start whether you’re looking for practical advice, encouragement, or just to know that you’re not alone in this endeavor.
This piece was originally written for our free Homeschool 101 eBook. It’s filled with information, from the history of homeschooling to going over the different homeschooling styles.
6 Homeschool Tips
1) Research Homeschooling Before You Start
“When I first started homeschooling, I had all the answers. I had been homeschooled myself, I was going to use the same curriculum I grew up with, I had little desks and planners with carefully planned lessons months in advance…and it didn’t work! It was a disaster from the start! I wish I had known that there are different styles of homeschooling. I wish I had understood my children’s learning styles beforehand and taken the time to really figure out what curriculum would have worked based on that. And MOST of all, I wish I had known to have more realistic expectations, to use curriculum as a mere tool, not to be a slave to it! I homeschool completely differently now, we are more at peace, more flexible, and whole lot more fun! I love sharing real life, helping new homeschoolers see that they are not alone, that there is another way to homeschool, and that homeschooling doesn’t have to be mimicking a school setting.”
Homeschooling for over 5 years.
2) Your Homeschool Experience Is Your Own
“There will be multitudes of people giving advice, scores of curriculum to choose from, and various methods for doing things. At times the abundance of information (although a blessing) can get noisy and distracting. In the end, trust that if God called you to this journey, He will equip you. He will provide all that you need. Your homeschool is not intended to look like anyone else’s. God has a unique purpose and plan for your family and that is exciting! Don’t get caught up in trying to recreate what someone else is doing, but trust that the Lord is going to lead you each step of the way to develop your homeschool uniquely for your family, and ultimately to glorify Him.”
Homeschooling for over 11 years.
Simply Living for Him
3) You Don’t Have to Look Like a Public School
“Your homeschool doesn’t have to look like a public school classroom. If I could go back and do those early years over again, I’d have spent much more time reading quality books with my kids (historical fiction, captivating biographies, and both classic and modern literature) and learning through hands-on experiences (playing, field trips, nature study, etc.).
It’s important to remember that sometimes it takes awhile to find your groove. Homeschooling for the first time is like being a new parent. Everybody has an opinion, but no one is an expert on homeschooling your child. Sift through the advice and tips, take what works for you, and discard the rest. You’ll probably make mistakes or look back and wish you’d done things differently, but that’s just part of being a parent – homeschooling or otherwise. You’ve got this!”
Homeschooling for 14 years.
Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
4) Don’t Feel Pressured; Take Your Time
“It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure and advice about what you must do the moment you start homeschooling. Many parents feel like they need to run off and purchase curriculum right away and start immediately with a rigorous school schedule. Don’t do that. Give yourself some grace, give your kids some time. It’s okay to start homeschooling slowly. Bring the kids home, and take the time to read and research, play and explore the big beautiful world out there. Take time to get to know how your kids learn and how they tick. You really do have time. Take it.”
Homeschooling for over 5 years.
Only Passionate Curiosity
5) Learn to Say No When It’s Too Much
“Stretched a little thin on your time outside of the home? Feeling overwhelmed with over commitments is very common! Take a good hard look at the various co-ops, extra classes, sports, volunteering, and events you are involved in and evaluate if they are truly necessary.
We ALL need breathing room and running ourselves (and our kids) ragged is only going to burn us out in the end. You need to be the best mom (or dad) you can for your kids – and sometimes that means saying no to something that is good, but not good for you at the moment. This can be so hard, especially when there are many things that are beneficial – just maybe not in this season for you or your family.”
Homeschooling for over 11 years.
6) Be Flexible in Your Homeschooling
“Homeschooling looks different for everyone. It is unique to each family and sometimes even each child within the family. I think my best advice is to be flexible and go with what works best for your family’s needs. Don’t compare yourself to others because what works for them, probably won’t be what works best for you!”
Homeschooling for over 10 years.
Confessions of a Homeschooler