Save Yourself the Headache | A Compilation of tips from Utah Homeschool Moms
Being a homeschool newbie is hard! There is just as much for us moms to learn as our children! Maybe even MORE! Below is a compilation of words of wisdom given by seasoned homeschool moms of things they have learned along their homeschooling journey. Hopefully many of these snippets of wisdom will be just what you need to hear to help calm your anxiety as you embark on this WONDERFUL new adventure with your family! (First advice - take a deep breath! You've can do this!)
Do not under any circumstances just recreate public school in your home. That is the quickest way to burn out and it is not educationally beneficial to your children. Public school and homeschool are two different ways to educate your children.
Cute schoolrooms are really cute, but kids can and will be successful doing their school work wherever they feel comfortable - which is often on the floor or at the kitchen table.
Scratching or adapting plans because something is not working is NOT failure. It is growth and a learning experience. (You didn't just "waste" a month/semester/year.)
Take advantage (or start on your own) a Not-Back-To-School party in your area. Fun traditions like these at the beginning of the traditional school year help children recognize the freedom they enjoy as homeschoolers. Find homeschool Christmas parties, Valentine's parties, Halloween parties, etc. And if you can't find any, start your own!
If you don't homeschool year round, "slow start" your school year by adding subjects in one or two at a time instead of jumping into EVERY subject on the same day.
Most kids THRIVE on habits and routines. They don't have to be ridiculously strict (Math at 9:05, Reading at 10:15, etc.) but morning and afternoon routines help set everyone's expectations and help things run more smoothly.
Chores are part of the school day.
Find which Education Philosophy best matches up with your (and your children's) personality. This will give you a starting place to look for curriculum, resources, and groups that match with who you are. (http://eclectic-homeschool.com/homeschool-philosophies-quiz/)
Realize that even though you may have an Educational Philosophy that you love and lean on, very few of us are purists, and as time goes on it's ok to adapt and personalize your philosophy even more to fit who you are. We're all "eclectic" in the end.
Find homeschool friends, both for your children and for yourself.
Homeschooling is just parenting on major steroids! If you aren't confident in your parenting skills, read parenting books and work on that before you read homeschooling books. (Google Nicholeen Peck!)
Not all kids are ready to read at age 5. When your child is ready, it will happen. Set your goal to be less stress and pressure, and more love.
There are gaps in EVERYONE'S education. This is not a problem that homeschoolers have. You don't need to worry about it.
Bad days will come whether you homeschool or not. When they do come, remember your "why." WHY did you choose to homeschool in the first place? WHY is it so important to you? Focus on your "why" and just try again tomorrow.
Always have a fun day, or field trip, or adventure day on the calendar. Homeschooling very, very rarely only happens inside the walls of your home. Now that you have the freedom to plan your own schedule independent of the public school, don't forget to schedule in all the field trips, the park days, the hikes, the pool days, vacations, etc.
Back to school time can be hard because you have to get into routine again. December can be hard because there is just always so many holiday things to do and nobody wants to do "school" anymore. February and/or March can be hard because it's just the grey, cold, slump time of year. But if you anticipate these potential hazards, you can mentally prepare and mitigate. Also, it's ok if you just don't do any "school" for a week - or a month.
Comparison is the thief of joy. (C.S. Lewis was so wise!)
Curriculum should be your servant, not your master
Learning Gaps are opportunities to learn, not failure.
It's not a race, your kids aren't ahead or behind
Progress, not perfection
The most well-thought out plans will almost never work exactly how you
thought they would when you implement them in reality
Homeschool is a journey. Remember it's supposed to be an adventure!
Grade levels are not natural learning.
Kids (and adults) will learn at whatever level they are currently on.
When we are are ready and willing, we can learn anything fast!
We learn the best when information is relevant to what we want to accomplish.
Making connections between two things that you never thought of before
is an epiphany! Epiphanies are exciting!
The feeling a child has about learning is more important than the
information being forced into their brain.
Thinking is hard work, and most people would rather just be told what to do.
Problem-solving is taking the resources you have and coming up with
something better, instead of complaining.
Learning doesn't have to look like textbooks, workbooks and tests. It
can look like play, movement, experiences, travel, creating, projects,
games, stories, imagination, art, and more.
Good character is at the foundation of what allows us to choose to do
the hard things, to learn, to become better.
Character and Habits before Curriculum
Your kids are good and desire to do good. When they act up, it's only
because they haven't learned to choose to follow their good desires
yet. Focus on the good to see how to help them succeed, instead of focusing
on their flaws and thinking you're failing.
You and your kids were each born with unique gifts and talents.
You were born with a unique mission to fulfill, to help others.
Obedience is a skill to learn, not a demand to be followed.
Children are naturally curious, and natural-born learners. We don't
have to make them learn what we think they should.
Allowing our children to learn at their pace and their interests takes
the power struggle out.
Give them super powers, not power struggles.
It's ok to let them do school work that isn't on grade level (either
above or below.)
Let them build confidence in what they're good at.
Bad days happen. It doesn't mean you're failing your kids.
You love your child more than anyone else, you are the best one to
guide their growth and education!
Use external motivation such as rewards/punishments for short term
Help your kids know who they are and nurture their good desires to
inspire internal motivation.
Many families create a family motto or mission statement. Include your homeschool in those guiding principles, or make a homeschool mission statement to stand alone. One way to start is to picture how you want your life/family to be/feel 20 years from now and work backwards.
One of the hardest parts is knowing when to push and knowing when to inspire. Sometimes they need to be inspired, but other times they need a gentle kick in the pants.
Find a time in the day that is protected - just for you, or just for them - where no interruptions are allowed.
Home School Legal Defense Association - Check it out. There is SO much information, especially for high schoolers.
You can have a happy house or a clean house, but usually not both. And that is ok.
Don't get sucked into your kids' drama.
Even if you cannot commit to much, find something to commit to -whether it's a park day group, a small cooking class, a hiking group, etc. Start finding your people.
It may be helpful to think of yourself as the manager of your kids' education. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. You can outsource when and where needed as well as produce, collect, and organize resources that are already out there.
Did you make it to the end of the list? Clearly, this is just a small sampling! If you have a "Man! I wish I'd known that earlier!" bit of wisdom to share, add it in the comments! Probably the most important thing to remember as that you are a loving mother or father with beautiful children who love, respect, and need you. You won't fail them because you can't. They were meant for you and you were meant for them. It may not be perfect - it definitely WILL NOT be perfect - but it if there is love, it will work out and it will be beautiful.