Homeschooling Tips for the First Timer

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Homeschooling Tips for the First Timer

The first time you try anything, it is common to have butterflies in your stomach, lay awake at night wondering if you are making wise decisions, and feel anxious. However, I am here to tell you that it is possible to have a great first-timer experience. Have you already taken the leap into full-time homeschooling? Good for you! Take it from me –  a Veteran homeschool mom – you can do this. While it has been some time since I started homeschooling, you never forget the fear and anxiety of doing something for the first time. Here are some homeschooling tips that every first-timer needs.

Homeschooling Tips for First Timers

Not Everyone Will Be On Board with Your Decision

Most first-time homeschoolers report that they had a relative or spouse that was on-board with homeschooling. This is normal. Grandparents often worry that you will not provide a suitable education for their grandchildren, or that the children will miss out on some important life event. Remember these people are well-meaning and want the best for you and your children, but the majority of them eventually come around. However, if you are not convinced yourself about the Benefits of Homeschooling, you may feel the pressure to put your children in public school.

After a few years homeschooling, my father asked about prom – my children were all under 12 at the time. I had paid attention to my father’s stories growing up, and my response stopped him in his tracks. “Dad, did you go to prom?” I knew that he did and that he had also climbed out the bathroom window to escape from his senior prom. However, there were many conversations over the years and my father never truly embraced homeschooling, but he did accept my decision. 

Do Your Research

When it came down to homeschooling my kids, I did the research. I found out what was legally required in my state. Luckily, we live in a state that has moderate regulations, so homeschooling isn’t a big issue.

Additionally, I made the mistake of purchasing a curriculum based on recommendations of others. This was in the days before the internet. After two months, I was ready to give up. I was frustrated and my son was not loving the homeschooling as much as I thought he should. So I decided a change of curriculum was necessary. 

I found some companies that would send catalogs in the mail (Rainbow Resource and Christian Book) and perused these publications. I researched what curriculum is right for our family. These were some of the first things I did as a first-time homeschooler.

Find a Homeschool Support Group 

While you may think that having an online support group is a great option, nothing beats having friends you can have coffee with or seeing real people on a regular basis. A local homeschool support group is a life-saver for most families. They offer a range of services from parent meetings, field trips, co-op classes, and even parties for the holidays. Your children will love meeting with other children, and you will love the support and encouragement you receive from older moms.

Check Out Co-op Options

A homeschooling co-op is not an option for everyone. However, if it is, you should consider the various co-ops around your area. Joining a co-op may give you the extra boost you need. If you cannot find a co-op, you may want to consider starting your own. With a few determined homeschooling moms, you can do anything.

While I have not been a part of formal co-ops, my children have taken part in co-op classes. Our homeschool group offered classes for part of the year, and we even had a class for science and labs with just a few families that were a part of our homeschool group.

These types of options help you in numerous ways. By gathering with other moms, you can share the teaching responsibilities. If you are unsure of how to teach a certain subject, a co-op gives you enough structure to gain your footing.

Our Co-Op Story

After I had Marcus and Jack-Jack (my now 16 and 14-year-old) I didn’t necessarily have time to teach a full-blown science class to Melissa. She needed biology and chemistry. I joined with another family to teach Melissa and their daughters. This helped forge a lasting friendship between all of us. 

Furthermore, while Melissa struggled with chemistry, she still loved getting together and it made the learning more fun than if we would have done it by ourselves.

Join an Online Homeschooling Community

Another great tip is to explore the online homeschooling community. There are many different groups to check out. It can be nice asking for advice from other homeschooling moms. However, be aware that you may not know if the people giving you advice are seasoned homeschoolers or not. In fact, there are people that will give advice for situations they have never encountered.

Join a few groups on Facebook to get to know some moms. Some of the groups are filled with people who homeschool, but many of the comments and questions are not homeschool related. You can find yourself wasting time being sucked into the online drama of someone else’s life.

However many of the groups are really helpful and you will find moms are welcoming and are willing to answer any questions you may have.

Homeschooling Tips: Re-Think Your Educational Philosophy

Most beginner homeschoolers fall into the trap of thinking like a public school. This is a mistake. Public schools are designed to educate many children and this is done with a “busywork” mentality. There are plenty of worksheets, projects, and teaching to get everyone learning at the same speed. However, much of these are unnecessary in your homeschool.

I often ask parents to name one worksheet they have had in their lifetime of schooling that made an impact in their lives. You probably cannot think of a single worksheet that impacted your life. You might remember a project you worked on that you learned from, and you probably have 2 or 3 favorite teachers that made a difference in your life. I am fairly certain there wasn’t a textbook that left lasting memories either.

 

Also remember that Einstein, Thomas Edison, and other inventors were deemed “stupid” and unable to learn. What made them stand out was someone who believed in them and a passion for one subject. Make sure your children have plenty of time to explore their passions. Maybe your child’s passion is art or nature study this year and changes next year to something different.

As a first-time homeschooler, you may be tempted to think that your children aren’t learning enough to propel them into the future. If your child is learning, trust the process. Schools repeat information over and over to reinforce and make sure everyone catches up (especially in the younger years). One on one learning will help your children learn the information and be able to add to that information easily.

There is More to Learning Than School

One of the best tips I can give a beginner homeschooling family is to make sure to provide your child experiences. Planting a garden is so much better than reading about gardening. Raising chickens will give your child a better education than sitting in a classroom and watching a movie by the Chicken Farmers of America. Hands-on learning will give your child a great foundation above and beyond traditional schooling.

Furthermore, attending plays, field trips, and visiting museums, art centers, or other areas of the country are great teaching tools. But the absolute best way to prepare your children for adulthood is to instill in them the love of learning and where to find information.

Do not just give your children a series of facts to memorize, but let them experience the richness of finding the information for themselves. Visiting Boston and walking the Freedom Trail, seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and personal, or visiting Washington’s Mount Vernon will transport your child into another time which will mean more than memorizing a series of “important dates.”

Stay Calm To Reduce Stress

Homeschooling can be stressful if you allow it to be. My favorite advice is to stay calm and go with the flow. When you freak out and panic, things are not going to go as smoothly. Here are some things to keep in mind as you homeschool.

You won’t be able to do everything in one day.
Pick and choose your battles with your kids.
Don’t overdo your schedule. Busy is good, but you don’t want to be too busy.
Find what works for you and go with it. Don’t focus on what is good for other families.
Don’t be afraid to try new things!
Take breaks when you need them. Pushing through when you are stressed out isn’t going to help anyone.

First time homeschooling moms can be overwhelmed, but with these tips, you can begin to gain your footing. Getting out there and meeting other moms and homeschooling families will enable you to gain a support system.

Do you have any tips for the first-time homeschooling mom?

 

 

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