When you first start to homeschool you have a billion questions that need answering. What? How? Should? Can?
But the truth is, no one can tell you how to homeschool.
Not even the Queen.
Maybe a veteran homeschool mom will give you her version of events; speak about her experiences and maybe throw in a bit of advice on curriculums here and there – she might even share her tips on how to homeschool for free, but ultimately your homeschooling journey will be your own.
How To Start Homeschooling. Hello? Anyone?
I have been homeschooling for ten years.
Like you, in those just starting out early years, I spent most of my time struggling with doubt and uncertainly.
I went backwards and forwards weighing up homeschooling vs public schooling and when I hit any kind of problem I would scour the world looking for answers on how to do homeschooling ‘right’.
Never to find it.
I only wish I had known someone like me back then. Someone who, rather than give me (poor) advise on how to homeschool, instead told me about the things NOT to do when starting out homeschooling.
It would have been far more useful.
And that’s is why I’m here for you today.
Think of me as your very Jimminy Cricket friend. With ten years of experience under my wing, I am here to advise you on a few things to bear in mind when you first begin homeschooling.
5 Things To Remember When You First Start Homeschooling
#1: Homeschooling isn’t an occupation it’s a way of life
Homeschooling is a way of life. And how can anyone possibly teach someone else how to live their life?
Because I love analogies and because I’m not a vegetarian I came up with this little scenario which I thought you might find useful.
(Once a homeschooling mother, always a homeschooling mother!)
The homeschool/vegetarian analogy
Q: How do I homeschool?
Think of this question like this:
I eat meat, but I want to become a vegetarian. So I ask someone who I know is a veggie ‘can you teach me how to be a vegetarian? A proper one. not one of those ancy pansy ones who do it just to show off’.
And they would say, ‘well.. you don’t eat meat. It’s as simple as that’.
‘But what do I eat?’, I’d ask. ‘How will I get the protein and the vitamins and stuff if I do not have a juicy steak every other weekend?’
‘You eat vegetables and lots of other none animal products’ says the very patient vegetarian person.
‘What kind of vegetables?’ I ask, ‘and how often? Should those vegetables be organic? Should they be raw? Should they be stirfried? What about a tomato? Is that a fruit or a vegetable?’
You get the picture.
Homeschooling isn’t a this-is-how-you-do-it kind of thing.
It’s a lifestyle choice.
Once you know what you’d like to achieve (happy, well rounded and educated kids) you simply choose the route you’d like to take and go forward from there.
And by the way. According to Britannica, Tomatoes are fruits that are considered vegetables by nutritionists.
#2: You Need To Ease into Homeschooling
You are going to find this next piece of advice hard to swallow but please, if I can give you any successful homeschooling tips, this is probably the best one.
Take your time my friend.
Ease into homeschooling gently. There are many benefits of homeschooling, and the fact that you can choose the pace of how and when your kids learn is one of the wonderful privileges.
Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.
- You don’t have to have a homeschool schedule sorted by month two.
- You don’t have to have your kids signed up to every event in the neighbourhood.
- You don’t have to know what college your kids will attend in five years.
- You don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy curriculums (in fact it is very easy to homeschool for free)
- You don’t have to worry that your eight year old won’t read (she will – give her time).
- You don’t have to panic that because your child no longer spends her days with thirty other kids she won’t have any friends.
And finally, I understand that because you are homeschooling and working full-time you feel the need to get everyone settled into a routine as quickly as possible.
Give yourself some time. Everything will work out.
Remember too that you have lots and lots of options. Creating a schedule so that you can homeschool three days a week to fit in with your busy schedule, sharing homeschooling duties with your other half, unschooling, summer schooling…
Just know that you have lots of options.
#3: You Will Make a Ton of Homeschool Mistakes (but that’s ok)
There are many pros and cons of homeschooling and being able to make mistakes and learn from them is one of the pros.
You are going to make many homeschooling mistakes along the way. But this is good.
To move forward as a homeschooler, you need to make mistakes.
In fact, the grander the mistake the further ahead you will zoom. (Remember this please the next time you are in the bathroom with your head in your hands).
You need to make mistakes so that you can move forward.
It is very easy to start homeschooling and think that you have to know everything by day three.
Nor do you have to know it all by month three. Or year three.
Homeschooling is not something that you set out to conquer, it is a way of life; and as such, there is no right or wrong way to do it.
So take and make those mistakes and own them. They will serve you well.
#4: Telling Fear To Sling it’s Hook
It is impossible to think clearly when you are consumed by fear, and homeschooling can certainly call fear to the forefront.
It is easy to fall into the trap of constantly worrying about whether or not the next decision you make will harm your child’s future.
But fear helps no one.
Least of all a homeschooling parent who sees the next few years stretching ahead of her like a sentence.
Fear is like an elastic band that will bind you up so tightly it will leave no room for manoeuvre.
And you don’t want that.
Fear is horrid. And debilitating. And unnecessary.
And just so you know…
You’ve already done the scariest part
The making of the decision to homeschool is probably the scariest thing you will do throughout your entire homeschooling journey.
Telling your parents. Telling the school. Filling in the paperwork. Convincing your boss to let you work from home.
All of those things are HUGE scary tasks. And you’ve already done them.
You are a homeschooling mama – and in my books that already puts you miles ahead of fear.
So go you. Take a breath and get ready for your adventure and when fear comes knocking? Recognise it as useless and tell it to move on.
#5: Homeschooling is about your needs too
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to homeschool. Only your way.
While the lady down the road might very well enjoy waking up at dawn and working through algebra tests until sunset you have work to get through, and it could be that you have to leave the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays and you hate algebra.
So what do you do?
You create a schedule that allows you to homeschool for three days a week. That way, you get to keep Tues and Thursdays flexible.
(And you find a brilliant maths channel on Youtube that will help out in the math department!).
You arrange a homeschool schedule that accommodates not just your child’s needs but also your own.
For those hours when you know you need some quiet time? Arrange for your child to watch educational Youtube channels or video lessons.
Drop them at a homeschool co-op or with another homeschool friend. Have your kids listen to talking books, podcasts (or arrange for some unschooling activities).
Make homeschooling work for you—and please, no comparing.
Comparing is a useless exercise.
What works for one homeschooling family won’t work for another. Remember this from the start and your homeschooling journey will be a whole lot smoother, I promise.
A private message from me…
Next, You Could Read…
How to homeschool 3 days a week (and still do more than they were doing in school)
Creating a homeschooling schedule. The right & the wrong way.
Homeschooling & working full time. A few things to be aware of
Homeschooling with wine (& sometimes the F word)
How To Homeschool sum up
Ok. I’m done. The cricket is out of here. But just to be clear…
Promise me that you will allow time to breathe and that you will do your best to enjoy this homeschooling process?
Because that is what this is.
And before you know it – just as the newborn, the teething, the toddler and the potty training stages all went by so quickly; so too will these homeschooling years.
Sad but true.
So please. Breathe out and enjoy your homeschooling process. you are amazing, you are brave and you are far more capable than you think you are.
I know that it can seem stressful and frightening and overwhelming, but you are in charge.
So take hold of the reigns, pull the horse back into a sitting trot rather than a gallop and take your feet out of the stirrups.
You can do this.
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Please don’t forget to share this post if you found it useful and as always I would love it if you could drop me a comment below and let me know where you are on your homeschooling journey!
Hi Liz – I am a mom to a 3.5-year-old son named Daniel. He currently goes to a Christian preschool (daycare) ages 18 months-5 years old. He has been going there since he was 20 months. He loves it there! I love the fact they teach about the gospel in our small town, South Lake Tahoe, CA. I am really concerned with what the public schools are teaching nowadays. It’s so different from the last time I was in grade school. I have been thinking about homeschooling him but don’t know how to where to start. Then I ran into your blog and shed some light on my wonders. I have been dreaming of homeschooling him and work full-time. I enjoy work (I can relate to your blog about sanity) My husband works in the hospital and has a rotating schedule. I am in the process of finding full-time work remotely but currently working at a fire department locally. We need the money. Most importantly, we want to spend time as a family. Is there an age you recommend homeschooling? I only read a few pages of your blog so far and it’s great information. I took the quiz and scored very high. Most of my answers were 6pts and a few 4pts. I am looking forward to researching this homeschooling journey.
Thank you so much for your lovely message and for reaching out to me.
In answer to your question, I honestly couldn’t say if there is an ‘ideal’ age to homeschool. It would depend on your family situation, your workload and whether or not you feel the time is right.
But. If you are worried that by sending your son to school you will somehow fail him, then please don’t. He is still so little and if he is happy in his preschool and can remain there for another year and a half while you put plans into place, then that sounds perfect.
Homeschooling is a little like saying when shall we have a baby…it happens, you get on and do it and then you wonder what on earth you were worried about!
I didn’t start homeschooling my kids until they were 7 and 10 and (for me) THAT was the ideal age. Other friends started younger, others started at high school age.
You know your child better than any other human being on this planet.
Do whatever feels right for you but please, don’t feel pressurised or ‘guilted’ (is that a word??) into doing anything.
Take your time, try not to overthink things and know that you have a choice. That in itself is an enormous step forward.
Whatever you choose to do, thank you for signing up fpor the free email support and I look forward to sharing this exciting journey with you Sakuna!
I’ll be homeschooling my 2nd grader this year-he’s done private/public school since pre-K. I live in the States and my particular State requires 175 days at 6 hours a day of “instruction”.
My question is, how do you work full time and only homeschool for three days AND STILL cover all the subjects required? My work schedule will be 5am-1:30pm. I also have a 1year old….
This year my son is required to take math, language arts, typing, history, science, and hand writing! I just don’t know how I’m going to fit everything in plus spend time with my husband and kids, do house work and enough sleep for work without burning out quickly!
We also have church Thursday nights and prayer meeting Tuesday nights.
Hi Angela, take a read of the two homeschooling and working posts below and look out for our upcoming podcast “working from home and homeschooling. I think you will find it super helpful!