While I was excited to be homeschooling my girls, I really came at it from an educator standpoint. I took what I knew from the classroom (even with doing it “my way”) and planned accordingly for the girls. And I was in for a surprise.
Looking back there was plenty of research that I could have done (I love to research) and I could have reached out to others who were already homeschooling. It wasn’t arrogance on my part. I truly thought that I was going to be fine.
I’ve learned A LOT since those early days, and I am a huge advocate for “do what works for you”. How I homeschool is very different to how I thought it was going to go. It didn’t take me long to make the change. But there were things I wish I knew before I started.
Don’t listen to the “shoulds”
I came into it with a lot of “shoulds” about what to do and how to do it. Those “shoulds” can confuse you and get you off track, especially when you realize that those things you “should” be doing are actually creating stress and issues and no one is happy.
Ignore those who don’t get homeschooling
There will always be people who don’t get why you are homeschooling, and they will probably express that (sometimes it is often and repeatedly). You don’t need to listen to that. It is ok to ignore those voices and do what works for you.
I also wish that there was a homeschooling masterclass that I could have learned so many things for success. There is now – check out my How To Homeschool Masterclass!
Mum guilt hits differently
It is true that there is enough mom guilt out there and you can drive yourself a little crazy. I know that I carried enough mom guilt already before we started homeschooling. But I didn’t realize that there was another level to it as you try to balance being mom-mom and teacher-mom. I also had the fact that I was working part time and trying to balance that. I wasn’t prepared for new waves of mom guilt that came from new avenues. I had to rethink things and understand that this was ok and it would work out.
It is ok to change everything you are doing
I have shared this before, but I had things planned and curriculum all in place and then realized very quickly that my girls had already learned organically what they needed for kindergarten. It really felt like a teacher fail AND a mom fail. I also discovered that the girls didn’t handle structure and needed more freedom in their education. I changed what we were doing completely. Overnight we went from a structured homeschool to unschooling. Did I have doubts about it? Oh yes. Because I wasn’t sure I should do that. (I overthink.) But I am now a huge proponent of change what you are doing if it is not working for you.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) When we compare what we are doing with others we will lose the joy of what we are doing. This was especially true for when I changed to unschooling because it was so different from what any of my friends were doing. I had to stop comparing what my girls were doing and how they were doing with others. It is not worth the effort.
It is ok to back off
It can be hard to back off when you feel that you have all these milestones to meet with your child’s education. But what if we don’t push? What if we allow our children to start some aspects when they are ready? What if we didn’t worry about arbitrary milestones and let our children lead. My girls weren’t ready for handwriting and spelling. But when they saw the necessity, and they were ready, it was easy for them to pick up. Do I still worry that they are behind? Of course! Because I overthink. But I know that it was right to do it and they were happier for it.
Don’t push through when your child hits a wall
Hitting walls in our child’s education can feel like a huge challenge. When they hit a wall it can show in anger, frustration or sadness. What do we do about it? Do we push through so they “get it” and stay on track? No. I learned this from experience. It was terrible and it took some time to work through the emotions of it. The next time it happened I backed off and it was night and day. They needed a break from it. We let it sit. And when they came back to it
Get connected early
If you have the opportunity, get connected with a homeschool group or co-op right from the start. Being with like minded families will be a great boost, and help with questions or struggles you might have. Or if you aren’t ready to join a co-op, connect with someone who has been homeschooling for a while. This will greatly help with any question or struggles.
You and your children will clash
We know that in family life, there are times that you and your children will clash. This is heightened when you homeschool. And it won’t just be emotional clashing, but on how to do things. You will find that how you learn best might not be how your child learns best – and you will clash. You like structure and they don’t. You want routine and they don’t. Clash. Clash. But you can work through it and compromise and everything will be fine.
I am grateful for what I have learned as I homeschool my girls. I am very thankful that I have been able to learn new ways of doing it and find what works for us. You will too.
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