I’ve learned a lot since we began our homeschooling journey seven years ago. One of those things being just how much I actually didn’t know about homeschooling. Maybe you can relate.
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Thankfully The Boy was a preschooler and there was room for both of us to grow and learn as we went along. Even so, I’m often stunned by the fundamental things I didn’t know about homeschooling as we started. You may know these things, but I didn’t know them for years. Years, I tell you!
What I Didn’t Know About Homeschooling,
but Eventually Embraced
1. It may take years to find your homeschooling groove.
I often get asked what curriculum and methods to use when beginning homeschool. I wish I could say that I can give quick suggestions and move on, but there’s more to it than choosing a curriculum or embracing a method. It can take time to settle into your homeschool groove.
I read lots of homeschooling books and felt completely equipped to start our home education journey, but I didn’t know any homeschoolers personally when we began. I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of and I didn’t know the choices made in the early days aren’t likely to be a good fit throughout the entire journey. It all seems naive now, but what I didn’t know about homeschooling was how it’s really just a work in progress.
I didn’t know it may be years before we can even address “the right curriculum” because choosing curriculum isn’t the starting point. I didn’t know that curriculum options don’t matter until the methods are understood and my children’s personalities and needs are addressed. As the expression goes, I put the cart before the homeschooling horse.
Because I made the mistake of choosing curriculum before personalities were considered and methods were understood, it took five years understand who we are as homeschoolers and settle into our groove. I’ve also learned since then that there’s some trial and potential error in all of this even when the methods and personalities are taken into consideration. There’s no guaranteed way to quickly find your homeschool groove, but finding it is part of the process.
2. You’ll experience change, causing #1 to resurface
You’ll go through changes throughout your homeschooling journey — you can count on that one! Sometimes we add siblings or experience other changes in the family dynamic. Sometimes we move into new homes or jobs. Sometimes the methods and materials that have always worked well stop working at all.
What I didn’t know about homeschooling was that all of those changes can make you feel like you’re back at square one. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, change comes along and you’re reevaluating methods and sifting through curriculum reviews and catalogs.
Here’s a look at some of the changes that affected our homeschool over the years.
- Big and scary financial changes – As I shared in Homeschooling: What to Do When You Want to Quit, our income went to part-time and we experienced first-hand how to homeschool through job loss.
- Homeschooling with a baby – A few months after we became a family of three living on a part-time income, we became a family of four by welcoming our daughter into the world. We all know babies aren’t concerned with lesson plans and homeschool planning, right?
- Moving to a new state – Homeschooling while packing, house hunting, and moving gets hectic enough when moving across town, but homeschooling through an out-of-state move is extra hectic. The move alone can be exhausting, but addressing new legal requirements for homeschooling, finding a local homeschool community, and actually schooling again gets overwhelming.
- Homeschooling different ages – I can only imagine how larger homeschooling families manage each time they add another child to the lesson plans, but I know what a huge learning curve I had when I went from homeschooling one child to homeschooling two.
Some of those changes resulted in adjusting our methods and curriculum choices. Some resulted in altering lesson plans and shifting from rigid schedules to flexible routines.
What I didn’t know, but have eventually embraced about homeschooling is change gets easier to navigate with time. Sort of. We’ve experienced big changes, but through each of them I was able to draw from previous experiences and breathe easier through the times of uncertainty and adjustment periods.
3. It’s okay to NOT do it all
I wish I would’ve known that I didn’t have to do it all — cover every subject, finish the book, follow the curriculum perfectly, end the day with a checked-off to-do list. Seriously though, I would’ve saved myself and my kids from lots of stress, busywork, and unnecessary expectations if I understood this earlier in our homeschool journey.
Doing it all is a “school at home” mindset and it took me too many years to let go of it. I tend to have a Type A personality and that definitely lends itself to checking all the boxes, finishing all the chapters, and using the entire curriculum. That’s overwhelming for homeschool parents and homeschooled children!
What I knew in theory was all of these methods, curricula, and schedules are guidlelines and not requirements. I knew that homeschooling allows customization according to each child and family, but what I didn’t know was how to walk in the freedom that it affords.
I’ve come a long way since then. I went from checking off each box — even if it meant my then six year-old was working into the evening because he was dragging through dry textbooks — to completely ditching a curriculum choice if it’s not clicking after a mere two months.
I went from covering every subject no matter what to letting go of subjects that cause turmoil and defeat. Would you believe The Boy hasn’t “done spelling” in a couple of years? Now it’s learned through dictation, copywork, and good literature. I traded in the nagging and complaining for gentle, natural learning.
It truly is okay to not do everything; the learning will come. Know that one and embrace it today!
What about you? What are the things you didn’t know about homeschooling when you started?
There’s more of this converstaion happening over at iHomeschool Network. Stop by and take a look!