So you think you might want to homeschool … or not … or you just have no idea…
I understand completely.
I’m just finishing up my second year of homeschooling, so I’m hardly an expert. However, I do know a lot about starting to homeschool and all of the questions that go along with that. It can be a mind-boggling, faith-testing, relationship-straining time. If we could sit out on the porch with a glass of sweet tea, here’s what I would want to share with you:
Learning some geography during our second year – proving that we did survive that first year!
- You don’t have to be super-organized. Somehow there seems to be a myth that all homeschoolers have this innate ability to maintain perfect homes, create elaborate lesson plans, keep meticulous records, cook delicious and nutritious meals (three times a day), and meet all the wife descriptions of Proverbs 31 and Song of Solomon. We bloggers can be the most guilty of perpetuating such a myth. Yes, you should do your work as unto the Lord, and yes, some sort of planning and/or record-keeping method is very helpful (here’s mine – very basic), but please let go of this feeling of inadequacy.
- Don’t worry about choosing the wrong curriculum. I can promise you this: something you choose for your child will not be a good fit. The beauty of homeschooling is that you don’t have to stick with it! Give it a good, honest shot first, but if it’s just not working, move on. Especially at the beginning, I would recommend trying to see different ones in person before purchasing. Ask other homeschool Moms if you can take a peek at what they are using, get honest answers about how much time is involved, and then be honest with yourself about how much time and money you have and are willing to spend.
- Homeschoolers come in all shapes and sizes. We’re not all Duggars. I have such admiration for the Duggars and other families like them, but I knew that wasn’t me. I like to wear capri pants, I have short hair, and my husband and I do not feel called to have a busload of children. Honestly, I was afraid I just wouldn’t fit in with other homeschoolers. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a wide range of homeschool Moms! I know Moms who wear denim jumpers and others who wear skinny jeans. You don’t have to stop being “you” to homeschool.
- You may be surprised by who supports your decision – and who doesn’t. You will quickly discover that you are making what others consider to be a radical choice. This can be especially daunting when you are already feeling unsure about your decision. My mother and my mother-in-law are both retired public school teachers. One thinks homeschooling is great; the other is … doubtful. Both opinions are based on their own experiences and understanding, and both are well-intentioned. Don’t be surprised if this produces some unforeseen conflicts, and approach them prayerfully.
- You probably won’t love every minute of it – and that’s OK. Another myth about homeschool Moms is that we all just love being with our kids all.day.long. While there may be a few who genuinely feel that way, most of us need a break from time to time. I am a classic introvert and being around people all the time (even people whom I love dearly) wears me out. I have to carve out alone time during the day, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there. Find what works for you. Also, be prepared that transitioning to having them home all the time if it hasn’t been that way previously will require a time of adjustment on everyone’s part. Don’t panic if you’re not all one big, happy family by the end of the first week! Pray, proceed with caution, and give it time.
- Just try it! It won’t be the end of the world if it doesn’t work out, and you will not have ruined your child’s education. I promise. I do strongly suggest committing to one full year so you won’t quit at the first bump in the road because there will be bumps. Just remember that you have the option to tweak things along the way. Pray, and try different schedules. Pray, and try different activities. Pray, and try again.
Other homeschool Moms who also know the trepidation of just starting out, what other advice would you add?
Laura Baggett is a college math professor learning to teach first grade and preschool at home with her two favorite students. She and her husband, David, have moved 13 times in not quite 15 years of marriage. When she’s not homeschooling, teaching math online, or feeding her addiction to Facebook, she writes about her adventures at Bloom Where You’re Planted.