This year, we will be starting our fourth year of this homeschooling thing, but honestly, I feel like I’ve already gotten quite the education from it. I’ve learned more about history, the world, and myself than I ever knew. And this last year was the first year that I really and truly felt that I had a good groove going for Isaac. It was exciting to feel that I had finally “learned” him too.
This year is kind of like another “first year” of schooling for our family all over again. Not only will we be adding James, a third grader, to our schedule, but Miss Hannah will also be officially joining us as a Kindergartner. In a lot of ways, I feel somewhat overwhelmed by having two new, very different additions this year, each coming with a new set of challenges that I haven’t quite figured out yet. So as I am beginning to plan for this coming school year, I thought it was a good time to remind myself of the advice I would give to any new homeschool mom.
Focus your day around God, the rest will come. This is one thing that I can say, by the grace of God, that I have done faithfully. And I have seen such fruit. When we first set out to homeschool, I had no other agenda, except to teach my kids about God. I didn’t want them to learn Latin, I didn’t care if they were two grade levels ahead, I don’t care if they finish college when they are 11….my goal was simply to give them a really strong foundation for God’s Word. So we structured our day around biblical teaching. The first thing we do is bible time, and we spend the most time on that subject. No other subject gets more time. Our curriculum, Sonlight, is written from a Biblical Worldview, so there is plenty of discussion during our schoolwork pertaining to God’s Word as well. I’ve realized that when your school centers around God, a lot of the places where you and your children struggle actually seem to shine instead.
Learning doesn’t have to look traditional. When I first began homeschooling, I had been a public school teacher, so I set up a room with school desks lined up in a row, facing a big white board in the front, and an alphabet chart lining the top of the wall. There’s nothing wrong with this, but guess how much time we actually spent in that room? Not much. My kids wanted to be where the action was. They wanted to do school in the center of the home, in the heartbeat of the home. They wanted to do math at the bar while I was preparing dinner, and they wanted to read in the most comfortable spot in the house-the couch. I have gradually learned that it doesn’t have to look like school to be school. Be an outside-the-box homeschool mom. Your kids will thank you.
It’s okay to change course…any time. You bought that curriculum and you really want to finish it right? Except that every day it’s a struggle for your child and you. This is the one time in life when quitting something is okay. There are millions of ways to sell used curriculum. It’s not a big deal, and you aren’t a failure. In fact, I’ve done this a lot over the past three years. I’m finally at the point where I have found what really works for Isaac in just about every area. And I am prepared to start all over for James and Hannah, and one day Lydia. But, the first two years, I might as well have been a “curriculum tester”. On the bright side, I can now give a truly honest review on just about any curriculum out there! My homeschool friends LOVE ME!
Have a routine, but relax. Hey, you have enough pressure on you. Every day, you feel the full weight of your child’s education on your shoulders. But, I don’t think that a lot of us homeschool moms (raising my hand!) carry that weight the right way. While I don’t believe that it’s God’s intention for us to go completely loosey-goosey and let our kids do whatever they want, I also don’t think that He wants us to get bogged down with worry and stress about home education. So, carry your responsibility well, but give your worry to God.
I remember that first year of homeschooling like it was yesterday. Just about every day, I felt like I was swimming upstream without a paddle, yet I saw so much fruit in just that first year. It was amazing. Even this past school year, I felt that we didn’t get much accomplished…until the end of the year when I laid out everything that we had done and everything that we had read. It was such a spread-it took up my kitchen and dining room…walls included!
So my final piece of advice is…you will feel like you’re failing, but you need to know that you aren’t. (Click here to read my post entitled, Oceans, to find out more on this topic). As a homeschool mom, you will need to separate what you feel from what you know that God has called you to do. You can feel like a failure sometimes, and you will…but you need to know that you aren’t. You need to know that you are right, smack-dab, in the middle of God’s will for your family, and then, you need to rejoice in that knowledge. After all, no matter how tough it gets some days, there is no better place to be.