Despite talking with several homeschool families in the area while my kids were still young and despite having an undergraduate degree related to education and despite being a natural trailblazer, I have still stumbled on a few bumps along the way. I am currently in my 6th year of officially homeschooling and wonder at what point does one become a veteran? Whether I have arrived or not, I found a few things I wish I had known at the onset of this adventure, and perhaps someone else will find comfort in these little lessons.
Travel at Your Own Speed
When humans are involved (and inevitably they are when considering homeschooling), expect to go at a different pace than others. Your kids, family, and schedule override the pace set by someone else—whether that be the homeschooling family down the street, the schedule or order in which you learned something as a child, or what any relatives or onlookers feel your learners should know. It truly doesn’t matter whether your children have memorized the U.S. Presidents before or after the 50 states and capitals. Both lists are helpful and fun. Some states regulate what homeschoolers need to know by certain grades, so that must be followed, but enjoy the journey nevertheless.
Find a Good Map
I was the recipient of several bins of wonderful homeschool manipulatives and textbooks. I was so thankful and honored that my friends would hand me down their treasured items. But I also saw all of the flashy, new, bright, yadda-yadda and filled my storage closet with those things too. Can you guess which I actually use and trust? The old stuff. The tried and true textbooks that my extra smart friends chose to use for their kids. I have since unloaded my flashy stuff onto the local thrift store donation bin and fallen in love with the classics. I am sticking to what has been proven. Knowing myself, I will always keep my eyes out for new fun things, but I will most likely stick to my map and not steer off the course too much.
Ignore the Ignorant
When those who aren’t familiar with our ways of educating come a ’knocking, smile and wave. Maybe even be gracious enough to entertain their question and try to bring them up to speed on the popularity and benefits of homeschooling. Have self-control and perhaps open their mind a little. When they ignore the facts, we can ignore them. However, I am not talking about putting our heads in the sand and turn an eye away from wisdom. When someone has a valid concern or an honest question, give them your attention, but when the haters come your way, walk away.
Take Frequent Breaks
Homeschooling is exhausting. Sometimes we just need to take a little walk around the block or a few jumps on the trampoline. And other times we require a deep, long, nourishing rest. Allow yourself to progress at a healthy pace.
The First Few Miles Are the Toughest
We started our homeschool adventure with preschool. That year, my goal was to learn how this whole homeschooling gig would fit into our family schedule and home. Kindergarten was fun. Who doesn’t like daily calendar time and crafts? Then the monotony of first grade set in and I became exhausted reading every assignment, walking through every little thing. Early readers are cute, but 20 minutes later, they aren’t cute.
But let me tell you, once those pretty little faces can read their own worksheets, follow the directions, clean up after their own art assignments, and cut their own shapes, a new freedom has been found! Dear homeschooling parent, you are home free! Now that you know how to homeschool and have taught your kids how to learn, release them into independence and keep an eye out. You survived the hardest part of the homeschooling journey!
So, veteran homeschoolers, what do you wish YOU had known when you began this journey? Share your wisdom with the rest of us travelers.
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother with three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.