Last year this time I used a lot of trees worth of index cards and loose leaf paper crazy planning for our school year ahead. It was our first year of homeschool and I wanted to rock it. I literally tried to map out how many minutes of each subject, each day, for each kid we would need to accomplish to meet the requirements set forth by the state of Ohio.
Then I tried to put these on index cards and organize them by which subjects kids could do independently (none at the beginning of the year) and which subjects they would need my full attention for. I lost sleep and my stomach hurt. Then, towards the end of August we started “school.” I don’t think I ever referred to my notecards again.
That first year is under my belt. While I know for certain I don’t have all the answers, or any answers for that matter, here’s what I do know about the first year of homeschool
Have the Confidence to Follow Your Heart
1.) Do what makes you feel the most confident, as a parent and as a teacher. If laminating things and buying $200 worth of organizational systems makes you feel like you are on top of things then it is worth the time and money. I spent hours on planning last summer that was not fruitful or necessary. But it gave me some semblance of control over this crazy cliff we were jumping off of. I’d do it over again.
The Homeschool Community is Amazing
2.) Homeschool moms are some of the most awesome people out there; encouraging, sharing all their secrets, giving their best books, and opening their doors. I talked to everyone I ever met, and some that I hadn’t, who even considered homeschooling. Those moms welcomed me; embarrassing questions, ridiculous expectations, stereotypes and all. Those homeschool mamas and their families gave our family the confidence to leave behind our normal.
Find your People
3.) Find someone else in the same boat you are. It’s awesome not to feel alone. This goes for you as a parent as well as your kids. Some families find this community in a homeschool co-op or a church family but it doesn’t have to be this structured. It’s reassuring for kids to know they are not the only ones doing this weird homeschool thing. And moms, it’s good to be able to talk through what’s happening in your days and maybe hear it’s happening elsewhere too. Those connections can be a lifeline when it feels like this adventure could eat you alive.
Go with the Flow- Your Kids Will Teach You SO Much
4.) Acknowledge that anything you think you know you probably don’t. It will change Your children will prove you wrong. You will realize you have been looking at things backwards & upside down. Then around Christmas time you will think, maybe, just maybe, you have cracked the code of school at home. Then it will be 300 degrees below zero, public school will have multiple snow days, and you’re doing it wrong again. Sigh. I’m not sure this is different from regular parenting, honestly. It’s just that now they don’t go away for eight hours everyday while you reconsider your parenting strategy.
Don’t Worry- You Will Still Like Your Kids
5.) You will still like your kids. I adore my kids, maybe even more than I did when they went to school everyday. We know each other better, both weaknesses and strengths. Being together so much does create plenty of opportunity for abrasiveness. There is no escaping each other. You will work through it and be better for it. We are in this thing together
You Will Survive Your First Year of Homeschool
Bottom line. If you feel called to homeschool, an idea you just can’t leave alone, try it. The one thing you do know is your kids and what is best for them. Throw caution to the wind, fire up your laminator and see what happens.