6 Tips How to survive (and thrive) your first year of Homeschooling

Home school is an amazing journey, for you and your children. Our first year of homeschooling was a lot like my first year of marriage; harder than I had expected, but also infinitely more rewarding than I had thought possible. Below are 6 tips that helped me survive, and thrive, through our first year.Many of the tips include 'studying' because let's face it, when you homeschool you must be willing to learn new things right along with your kids.


1. Study Yourself 
 You are unique; therefore your homeschool room, organization, methods, and routines will also be uniqueNo homeschool looks the same, because no family looks the same. The fact that you are homeschooling testifies that you know your child should not be pushed into a one-size-fits-all-mold, so don't do it to yourself.  Sometimes I wonder how moms home-schooled before the resource of the Internet, yet I can also see how the temptation to compare can kill the confidence of a new homeschool mom. 

 What are YOUR strengths and weakness?  My strengths and weakness came into play as we picked curriculum (more on that below) and how we structure our day. I am not musical or mathematical, so we use a Math Curriculum that has a DVD teacher (Math U See) and an FREE online music curriculum

It also took me way too long to accept that I am not a morning person. Starting school at 8:00 a.m. like my teacher's manual suggested was just a bad idea for all involved. I also fought battles over silly things, like thinking we had to change into "real clothes" to start our day. I am not saying PJ's are are a must for homeschool, some moms even need to put on "real" clothes to feel like they started the day.  Once I accepted that our school should reflect our home, not vice versa, our life was much more pleasant. Now I have a cup of coffee and eat breakfast while my kids enjoy each-other's company (for the most part) in the morning.  We start school around 9:30am or 10:00am (kids stay in our pajamas & I put on leggings because they feel like PJs but  I can answer the door in them and not be embarrassed) and work until a  few hours after lunch (or later).  Our goal is to be done by the time the next door neighbors get out of school, so that my boys can go outside and play tag. :) 


2. Study different Homeschooling Styles
BEFORE searching for curriculum
We tend to teach how we were taught, and if we were public schooled, we will try Traditional first. It works for some, but as diversity in homeschooling, not all.   

Researching your Homeschooling Styles before researching curriculum might save you hours of time, and years off your life. See what style would work with your child's strengths, your family's lifestyle, and budget? Click here a quick view on just five of the MANY Homeschool Teaching Styles

 I recommend  The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start by Linda Dobson to new homeschool families.  She has REAL Homeschooling families (christian and secular) document what a week looks like to them using their teaching styles. 

We personally tend toward a mix of Unit Studies and Charlotte Mason. That said, be prepared that our style will change as you homeschool.  We recently had an unexpected season of unschooling due to medical reasons.  Life changes, and our homeschool may have to change alongside.


3. Study your kids (BEFORE AND MORE) than your teacher's manual
Your teacher's manual is not god.  If that is the only thing you take from this post, please remember it!  I have IDENTICAL TWINS who were reading and writing at very different times (like a half a year apart people), if that doesn't teach you ALL kids learn differently, I don't know what will. Just because your teacher's manual says they should be able to write that sentence that week doesn't mean your child is ready to write that sentence. It is OK to stay on a Math concept for two weeks, even though your manual says they should learn it in two days.   I personally love our curriculum , My Father's World, because it combines a few different learning styles that fit our family.  That said, we throw out one third of what is in the manual because it just doesn't "fit" where we are, or that need is met elsewhere (like AWANA or Co-op). 

Why do you think homeschooling is best for your kids? What are their weaknesses?  What are their strengths?  What kind of learner are they? Click here for Types of Intelligence and Learning StylesBeing a homeschool mom is an honor, I get to learn about my kids on new and deeper levels. In kindergarten I learned the boys were much happier writing on dry erase boards instead of the worksheets provided. This year we also learned one of my boys has what we dubbed  "reading-induced deafness", and I have to be patient and make sure he truly hears instructions if he is in the middle of a good book and shuts out the world around him...he gets that from me. ;) 

PLEASE REMEMBER to study your kids, not the kids of the other homeschool families. For example, one my favorite homeschool families starts kindergarten at 4 years old. I almost gave into the pressure of comparison, but I knew in my heart my kids needed another year of playing and low-key preschool. We started very slowly when the boys were five. To be honest, we all needed that extra year of preschool.

4. Find Support Online. 
HOMESCHOOLING IS NOT EASY! Like any other rewarding , yet challenging, journey in life, you need support!!! Seeking out like-minded families in your area will truly make your first year immeasurably better.  It is OK to not be OK sometimes, and you need to know that others are  right there will you.  HOMESCHOOLING IS A  LIFESTYLE, and you need others to come along side you who share that lifestyle. 

Online: Use  Facebook  to find a local homeschool group.  This was crucial to our first year of homeschooling.  I am in Facebook book that consist of 600 plus homeschool families, all withing a 40 miles radius of me.   Just seeing the member number of that group reminds me of a very important truth, I am not alone. This local group also helps me find many activities to find support in person.....

5. Find Support in Person.
Online support is easier than finding in-person support.  That said, it is important you be brave, for your kids sake and for yours.  Even introverts need the support of like-minded people in person every now and then. Use your online support groups and be brave; show up to field trips, organize play-dates, etc where you know you will meet other homeschool families.

Five years ago, I knew God was calling me to homeschool, but I did not grow up in area with many homeschooling families. This lack of exposure meant I harbored a lot of the common homeschooling misconceptions.  It was life changing to walk into a room of homeschooling women at a Co-Op Open House and think, "Wow, they look like me!"  I remember the freeing moment when I saw another mom had a nose-ring like me.  It may sound superficial, but trust me, it is so important to meet like-minded families in person.  

 *Home-school Classes, Field Trips Groups, and Activities
Use your online support and ASK QUESTIONS about what is in your area, and if others will go with you!
  • Most YMCA's in the country has some type of homeschool program. 
  •  Our area also has The Kroc, a community center from Salvation Army, that has homeschool classes for gym, health, music, and art.   The boys met friends in their classes, and I was able to meet some homeschool moms in person at drop-off
  • The boys attend AWANA weekly
  • If you plan it, they will come!  Ask families to the park or a local museum! 
* Homeschool Co-Op 
See this post to find out what exactly a Homeschool Co-op is. We have attended a few different types and sizes. We now attend a weekly co-op that meets once a week for 12 weeks each semester, it consists of 50 families. My kids can take classes I can not offer at home. As a former Preschool teacher, I  teach the younger kids, while talented singers teach choir and the athletic-minded teach gym.  

SIDE NOTE- I am an extrovert who need to be around people to recharge, but not everyone wants to be out and about that much. If too much out and about drains you, then do not let the guilt of "socialization" make your schedule too busy.  Still, I highly encourage you to find support in person with those who have the same lifestyle as you. Isolation can breed discouragement, in your and your children. 

6.  Study the laws of your state
Stay informed, do not rely on the public school to give you the right information, and seek support of those who have done it before you! The Home-school Legal Defense Association is best place to start.  You can browse their website without becoming a member.  Membership is highly encouraged, especially if you are in a state or school district that is not homeschool friendly, or if you have any problems transferring your kids out of public school. 

So many new moms stress themselves over how to inform the school, or what they need to keep to document.   We are lucky in Indiana to have a homeschool friendly atmosphere, but even that depends on your district.  Seek support, and you will do fine!

I hope this helps someone during their first few years of homeschooling.  YOU CAN DO THIS!





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2 comments:

  1. Great post, thank you! I'm finding myself paralyzed with fear about picking the wrong kindergarden curriculum and shoving us into a mold that doesn't fit.

    Meanwhile, my just-turned-five-year-old is starting to read, without us ever "officially" doing school, so I probably need to just chill! But wow, we HS moms so want to get it right, and help our kids love learning!

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    1. You are not alone. Know that many of us have felt the same thing. The beauty of surrounding yourself with other veteran HS Moms is they can tell us how they went through several curriculums, and their kids survived!!!

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