Looking back over the years, there are so many things I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler. It would’ve made my life so much easier and would’ve saved us a lot of blood, sweat and tears. (Okay, mostly just a lot of tears, but you know what I mean.)
But the truth is, when I was a new homeschooler, I wouldn’t have believed half the stuff I’m about to tell you. I had to live and learn the hard way. Such is life. 😉
But, in case you like to make life easier on yourself, here are the things I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler, all those years ago.
25 Things I Wish I’d Known as a New Homeschooler
There is no such thing as “behind”
The truth is, everyone learns at their own pace. The sooner you stop comparing your kid to others in their grade, the happier you’ll be.
While your public schooled nephew may know multiplication while you kiddo is still struggling with addition, he may not have other skills your child does.
It’s impossible to get “behind” in learning because learning is not a race. We’re not trying to get to the finish line before everyone else.
Instead of rushing, move at your kids’ pace. Don’t double-up on math lessons so you can finish a curriculum by a certain date. Just relax and let your child fall in love with learning.
I promise you, they will learn the things they need to learn when the time is right.
Everyone does things differently
Morning baskets. Online classes. Co-ops. Weekly field trips. Unit studies. STEM projects.
Year-round learning. 5 days a week. 4 days a week. Half days at local high schools. Dual enrollment.
There are thousands of ways for your family to homeschool. And I guarantee you, no two families do everything the same.
Instead of comparing your homeschool to others, spend that time figuring out what works for you and your kids and dive in deep!
Friends are important
This seems like such an obvious point but it’s easy to stick to yourselves when you homeschool. But the truth is, kids need friends, no matter how old they are. Humans thrive on connection.
For years, we didn’t go to co-ops or homeschool library days because my kids didn’t ASK to do that. And honestly, I was content staying home, doing our own thing.
But once we made friendships a priority, my kids found some amazing friends and it really helped them grow.
Hard as it may be, find some local homeschool kids who want to hang out on a random Tuesday morning and make it happen!
Find your support team and stick with them
Just like our kids need friends, we need a support system. Let’s be real: Homeschool is HARD. Surround yourself with people who get it, who try to understand and who let you complain. Because after a hard day of homeschooling, the last thing you want to hear is “Well, you can always put them in public school!”
Finding friends, family and neighbors who understand and support your decisions to homeschool, even on the hard days, makes it that much easier on you.
Your house is lived in
It took me YEARS to realize that people don’t come to my house to see how good of a housekeeper I am, but to see ME! Honestly, if your friends are judging you by the state of your home, they aren’t the kind of friends you want anyways.
We figured out really quickly that we needed to do an afternoon “clean up” before my husband got home from work and before we started dinner. This 10-minute daily habit keeps our home in order and cuts down on the amount of cleaning we have to do on the weekends.
You don’t have to do every subject
When we first started homeschooling, I crammed our schedule full of every subject I “just knew” we needed to cover. It didn’t take me long to discover homeschool burnout.
You simply can’t do everything. You can’t.
And that’s okay.
Do what you want. Don’t trudge through the subjects your kids hate. Instead, skip it or find another way to learn that subject.
This realization led us to looking outside of homeschool curriculum to learn. Instead of boring history books, we watch educational YouTube videos. Instead of mundane science books, we watch documentaries on Netflix.
Figure out how to learn the “boring” subjects and do it. No books required. 😉
This isn’t public school
You don’t need to start school at 8 am every single morning. And you sure don’t need to take roll every day.
Once you realize that homeschool is freedom and not a duplicate of public school, the sooner you’ll relax and really start to enjoy learning alongside your kids.
Don’t waste money on a schoolroom
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this one. 💁♀️
We renovated our home office, adding bookshelves, custom desks and carts full of art supplies.
And after sinking all that money into a schoolroom, guess where the kids preferred to do their schoolwork?
On the couch, at the kitchen table or in their bedrooms.
Schoolrooms are stuffy and uncomfortable. Kids learn best when they’re relaxed and cozy.
Yep, save your money and just buy the kids a lap desk is definitely on my list of things I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler.
Teach the way they learn
One of the most important things I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler is that they way I present the material to my kids matters. Some learn best through reading books. Others learn by doing. Some can sit still and listen to lectures for an hour while others simply can’t sit still for 5 minutes.
If your kiddo isn’t absorbing the information, try presenting it in a different way. Try podcasts, videos, board games or educational apps.
You’ll want to quit
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: homeschooling is NOT for the faint of heart.
The truth is, you have to want it more than anything in the world.
You’ll have bad days, crappy curriculum, rotten attitudes and lots of snarky remarks. You have to want to homeschool more than you want the government raising your child.
Remember why you started or else you’ll end up throwing in the towel and booking a solo flight to Mexico to escape the stress.
Ask me how I know.
Your life will change drastically
Somehow, homeschooling effects every single aspect of your family. The way you dress, the things you buy, the vacations you take…it all changes once you start homeschooling.
Your priorities shift and you realize that you don’t care as much about what goes on outside the walls of your home. As long as your family is safe and together, that’s all that matters.
We went from running the rat-race, playing every sport you can think of and struggling to keep up with the Jones’ to a debt-free family who enjoys the slowness of life, monthly camping trips and traveling the world.
I can’t tell you exactly how it’ll change for you, but trust me when I say it will change everything.
These are the best days of your life
The next few years are going to fly by in the blink of an eye. As a mom who just graduated her first baby, trust me when I tell you that you’ll never regret spending this time with your kids.
Yes, they’ll drive you crazy but you’ll also get a front row seat to all the special moments in their lives.
The struggles, the happiness, the smiles and the tears. You’re there for it all.
I haven’t lived forever, but I can’t imagine that there is anything in the world better than these days being spent at home, raising your babies.
Life is full of seasons
I currently feel like I haven’t stopped running in 3 months. From graduation parties and family vacations to health issues and family deaths. But I know that this, too, is just a season. Soon, it’ll slow down and I will enjoy the peacefulness of slow days at home.
The secret to life is learning to lean into the seasons. Know that it won’t last forever, whether it’s a good season or a bad, busy or stressful. It’ll end and a new season will begin.
An important thing I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler is that instead of wishing this season away, learn to enjoy life, right where you are.
Because, soon, your next season will be an “empty nest” season and then you’ll have nothing but sweet memories to look back on.
All kids are different
Just because one kid loves math and is up at 7:00, ready to learn doesn’t mean that your other kids will be the same. Some kids learn best in the morning while others learn better at night. Some love reading and writing while others want to work with their hands.
Stepping back and looking at the big picture, realizing what each of your kiddos excels at, will help you adjust your expectations.
Giving yourself a daily reminder that all kids (and adults) are completely different is a great way to encourage your kids.
Let dad participate
Figure out how you can incorporate your husband into your homeschool and encourage him to get involved.
For us, that means just giving Dad a quick recap of our day during dinner and saving hands-on science experiments, dissections and messy art projects for the weekend, when he can participate.
One tip, though: Don’t bombard Dad as soon as he walks in the door from work. While we’re always super excited to tell him about what happened that day, he’s likely had a long day at work and needs just 5 minutes to decompress. Make it a habit to give him a few minutes of quiet time before you jump in and tell him all about your day.
Just because your public-schooled neighbor is learning Latin doesn’t mean your kids need to. And just because your kids are playing Roblox every day doesn’t mean they’re lazy.
It’s crazy to compare your kids to others. Each child is totally different. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. Their passions are different and the things that motivate them are never the same.
Understanding that your child is one-of-a-kind will help you sleep better at night.
It’s okay to not finish a curriculum
Remember when you were in school and you only got to like Chapter 3 in your social studies book, year after year? It’s okay to not finish a curriculum. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever finished an entire curriculum.
Do you know how mad I’d be if I paid $150 for a geography curriculum only to run out of content by March? The curriculum company KNOWS that and they make sure you have more than enough materials to last, no matter how quickly you work.
Don’t feel bad when you toss a curriculum. Use it as much as you need and then pass it on to someone else.
Movement is key
Okay, to be totally honest here, my kids are wiggly little stinks! They are moving all the darn time. When you’re trying to complete a math lesson, this can be a real problem. They fidget, twist and bop around in their seats while you’re just trying to get them to finish the problem.
Make sure you allow plenty of time for kids to move throughout the day. Allow them to play with Play-Doh during read aloud, do push ups while you listen to audio books or walk around while you’re reading from textbooks.
Getting out the excess energy will help improve their focus, making homeschooling easier for everyone.
Outsourcing is your friend
Our first year of school was a nightmare. I had a toddler who wouldn’t quit slamming our textbooks shut and a couple of kids who didn’t want to do school but instead wanted to play. It took us over a month to get through the first week’s math lessons.
I knew we couldn’t go on like that.
One of the biggest, most important things I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler is the importance of outsourcing the subjects we were struggling with.
Once we turned to Teaching Textbooks, our days became less chaotic and we enjoyed all of our other subjects together.
Just getting that one subject off my plate brought so much peace to our homeschool days.
That was a hard, but so stinkin’ important thing. How much easier life would’ve been if I’d known as a new homeschooler.
Be prepared for snarky comments with a quick reply
You already know that you’re going to get some negative comments when people find out about your decision to homeschool. Being prepared with slightly snarky comebacks can help you feel less attacked when people start questioning your choices.
Some simple comebacks I love to use:
• Why on earth would you choose to homeschool?
Because I don’t want the government raising my kids. Have you seen how they run things lately?
• I could never spend that much time with my kids. I need a break from them.
Really? I love being around my kids. They are some of my best friends and we have so much fun together. Plus, if you can’t stand your own kids, how do you expect the teachers to be able to tolerate them at school?
Homeschoolers are so weird. They don’t know how to socialize at all.
Really? According to the 300,000 miles on my minivan we’ve accumulated between co-op, library days, field trips, karate practice, church functions, park playdates and all the other stuff we’re constantly going to, they’ll be just fine. Besides, I’ve seen how public schoolers act and I don’t want my kids acting anything like that.
Homeschooling doesn’t run your life
One of the most important things you’ll learn as a new homeschooler is that homeschooling doesn’t run your life. It provides freedoms that you never imagined.
- We take family vacations in the fall, when parks are empty and the rest of the world is busy with work and school.
- We take off sunshine days and work through freezing cold snow days.
- Homeschoolers do school work in the car, at doctor’s offices, on vacation and at 2:00 in the morning.
- We take karate lessons at noon on a Tuesday.
Homeschooling doesn’t run your life and soon, you’ll grow tired of anything that requires you to be in a certain place at a certain time, when it’s super inconvenient for you.
Don’t forget to nurture your marriage
It’s easy to become so consumed with lesson planning, finding the right curriculum and ensuring your kids don’t turn into “weird” homeschoolers, that you forget all about that guy you once swapped vows with.
It’s so super-duper important to spend some time nurturing your marriage. Go out of monthly date nights. Lock your bedroom door and have a date night at home. Put the kids to bed and sit outside under the stars, just talking to each other.
Don’t become so busy that you lose yourself in your kids. Remember who you are, who you married and the things that make you happy as a couple.
Trust me, it’s something everyone should be aware of and definitely something I wish I’d known as a new homeschooler.
Don’t take advice from people you wouldn’t seek it from
Everyone and their dog is going to give you a piece of their mind when it comes to homeschooling. Most of them have no idea what the heck they’re talking about.
Make it a rule that you ONLY take advice from those who you would genuinely seek it from.
If your grumpy ol’ Granny never has anything nice to say, just let her words go in one ear and out the other.
There’s no point in listening to someone if you don’t value or respect their opinion.
Free isn’t always better
For years, I spent hours and hours piecing together free curriculum for our family to use. To be honest, free was all we could afford.
But once we got a little leeway in our budget, I knew I wanted to invest in a quality curriculum that did all the dirty work for me.
I spent hours of my life scouring the internet, pinning the best freebies, printing and binding free pages. At the time, it was worth it.
But my time is worth something, too.
Finding a good curriculum that doesn’t lose your mind may be worth giving up a few Sonic Happy Hour drinks.
It’s your call, but consider the other things you could be doing with your time instead of starting at a computer for days on end, searching for freebies.
They are just kids.
Kids will make mistakes. They’ll be loud and messy and annoy the heck out of you.
But they’re just kids. They don’t know what they’re doing and it’s our job to teach them.
Remember, you aren’t trying to raise good kids. You’re raising good adults.
For the rest of their lives, they’ll make decisions based off the experiences they have as children.
Love them. Encourage them. Fill their “love tank” so full that nothing in the world will make them question their worth.
They are just kids but they are yours. And that makes them pretty darn special.
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