10 Tips for New Homeschoolers

I am far from a veteran homeschooling mom. We started our homeschooling journey in February in 2013 and I've already learned a lot in this short time. I just wanted to get these tips out there for those of you just starting this homeschool journey. I know when we first started down this homeschool road, I was overwhelmed with the task of educating our children. 

I devoured homeschool blogs and curriculum sites and catalogs....only to sometimes end up more confused. I hope that at the very least you can learn to trust that everything is going to be okay. Some days will be rough, others will be fantastic adventures. You can do this! Trust your gut, and lighten up. Of course all of you veteran homeschooling parents, freely chime in! 

1. Relax. We are all just trying to do our best as parents and do what's right for our families. There will be naysayers, negative nellies and nosey nobodies. [Score 10 for alliterations.] No one on the earth knows your kids like you do. Trust your instincts and trust God. It's really going to be ok.
Pray it out. No worries.

2. De-school. This was the best tip I got in our second month of homeschooling. If you're coming out of public school, it's an important step. We pulled the kiddos out just after halfway through the school year. I jumped right in to homeschooling full force and it was kind of a mini disaster. We needed to take a deep breath and step back from all of it for a good month. Instead we did what is read books together, a little trip to the aquarium, no pressure, no homework and no workbooks. When we were ready about 6 weeks later, we were much calmer...almost...

3. Don't try to public school at home. After de-schooling we were doing better but my 5 year old and I still ended up in tears by the end of the day. Why? Because I was forcing her to do public school at home. I was attempting to mimic the formula and the methods.  This only left me in fetal position, chewing my hair  wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. I was trying to replicate what kids her age were "supposed" to be doing. Which leads me to...

4. There is no supposed to. Each state has different regulations so of course you must follow those. However, there isn't just one way to do things. Each child learns differently. My eldest daughter was reading by the age of 4. My younger daughter was having a really hard time learning to read. Of course the way it was being taught in public school was majority of the problem, but that's a different article. I had to stop making her learn the way her sister did. She learns differently and thinks differently...

5. Figure out your child's learning style. I googled some learning style assessments and guides so that I could accurately determine HOW I was going to teach each child. Knowing whether your child is auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner is going to benefit him or her. For example: Your kinesthetic child won't learn history by listening to audio books as well as doing a re-enactment play. This is one piece to a two part puzzle to finding your method of homeschooling...

6. Figure our your teaching style. No one told me this was important. It's the second part to finding your homeschool method soul mate. After I had discovered how my children learn best, I set out to purchase the most amazing curriculum for their learning styles. And the curriculum worked for them! One problem...not all of it worked for ME. Sometimes you get caught up reading reviews and think, "I've found it! THE best curriculum!!! Everything will be perfect now!" The best curriculum in the world isn't the best if it doesn't get done. That's how you know it's not working for you or your kid. I burned out on the reading curriculum for my daughter and she was doing really well with it but it was the worst part of the day. We changed it up and now she's doing great AND I'm doing great! Success.

7. Discover your homeschool method. Unschooling. Charlotte Mason. Classical. Waldorf. Montessori. Child-led. Unit Studies. Notebooking. Eclectic. And on and on. There's quite an array. I have to say that things have broadened a bit since I was homeschooled in high school a hundred years ago. We do a mostly Charlotte Mason with classical .... and notebooking.... So basically we are eclectic.

8. Done for you or DIY? This goes along with the previous two, really. It's important so it gets it's own tip number. I thought I wanted an "all subjects included" kit.  I mean who doesn't love getting big package of new school stuff in the mail?!! Just me....? Oh.  However...I want things juuuuust how I want them and of course it needs to fit my kids learning style and my teaching style. I have found no such box curriculum for me. Some get close, but not quite there. I'm totally for getting a box set of an individual subject as long as it fits our criteria. A laid out day-to-day schedule planned out for me is so not my style at all. My exception is how Nancy Larson science is laid out. My sister is the opposite. She doesn't want to have to do all that planning. She wants it laid out all for her so that it's all completely open and go.

9. Set up a schedule that works for your family. Some people like to follow the public school schedule so that they can do playdates/hangouts with public school friends. Some school year round, some do a 6 or 9 weeks on with a few weeks off in between.  We homeschool year round with June off and December off and vacation whenever we want. This works for us. Do what works for you. My husband works away from home for weeks or months at a time, so we like to be able to take off whenever he's home. We also prefer to vacation when public schools are in session and the beaches are vacant.

10. Don't forget to enjoy yourselves. Days won't always go smoothly, life will get messy, plans will change, and babies grow too fast. You're not alone, you're not an island. Connect with others online and in person. Realize that you won't cover every single thing you ever want them to know. There will be gaps, they will be fine. Every phase of life comes in its season, so live in the present. Stop freaking out and take a deep breath. It's going to be a great adventure.

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