Dear Homeschooling Mama,
I know that you’re new at this whole homeschooling thing. But you’re not alone. There are many, many of us homeschooling now for a variety of reasons. And even though you may be looking down a looong road until your first child’s graduation, there are many homeschool graduates who have gone before. As you embark on this homeschool journey, there are a few really important things you need to know.
You are fully equipped to teach your child.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a teaching degree. In fact, from my own experience, teaching experience in “real school” is actually a hindrance to homeschooling because what you’ll do at home is so different from the set up of a classroom. You don’t need a teaching certificate to be absolutely competent to teach your children.
Who taught your child to walk, to talk, to go up the stairs without falling? Who potty trained him? Who pointed out colors and ABCs and animal names and sounds throughout her toddlerhood? You can teach your child.
You know your child better than most anyone else. Because you spend time with him, you’ve learned to read his moods and emotions. You’ll soon get to know how he learns best. And because you know and love your child, you are the his best teacher.
Don’t compare your homeschooling to anybody else’s.
Yes, I know it’s a temptation. You’re going to go to homeschool co-op. And you’re going to be chatting and listening to the other moms. You’ll hear another mom talking about all the extracurricular classes her children are taking or about the stringent curriculum she’s using or about how she’s making all her family’s food, health and beauty products, and household cleaners from scratch to avoid all processed and chemical ingredients. And you’ll start to worry.
What if my children can’t get into college because my curriculum wasn’t difficult enough? What if they feel deprived because we can’t afford music and dance and computer coding classes? Would we all be more healthy if I could just find time to make everything from scratch?
The comparison trap can drive you crazy. Don’t even go there. Your homeschool is never going to be exactly like someone else’s. You have different children, a different spouse, different goals for your family, a different financial situation. You need to consider your own family’s homeschool vision and your own needs and resources as you make decisions for your homeschool.
There will be bad days.
I will confess. Homeschooling isn’t always sunshine and roses. You’ll have those good days, and you’ll be so happy that you are homeschooling. Kids will be learning and growing and being kind to their siblings and making good decisions. But you’ll also have bad days.
You’ll have days when your six year old refuses to narrate a sentence about the book you just read. One sentence. You’ll have days when your son spends an hour weeping, wailing, and gnashing his teeth because he has to read one chapter of his literature book by himself. One chapter. You’ll spend hours trying to decipher an algebra problem that makes no sense to you. Hours. Really.
On those days you might dream of the magic yellow bus and you might envision days of peace and quiet while your children are happily enrolled in school. It’s okay to have those thoughts. It’s okay to admit that things are hard. It’s okay to admit that you’re struggling.
It’s all worth it.
I graduated my first homeschooled child this past year. I’ve had several good talks with her about homeschooling. She’s incredibly thankful that we homeschooled all the way through. There are a few things she says she may have missed- having a locker, of all things. But she realizes all of the benefits she’s had from homeschooling.
And, you know what? I realize it too. I was there when she learned to read. I was the one who finally taught her to tell time. I helped her struggle through her first research paper. I sweated over algebra with her. I was there when she took her first high school co-op class- the first class taught by a “real” teacher. I walked through every part of her school years with her. It wasn’t always easy. But it was a blessing. And I am very thankful for every single moment.
It will be worth it for you too, Mama. Homeschooling is a blessing. It’s time spent as a family. It’s fun impromptu trips to the park. It’s making chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the morning- instead of doing math. It’s learning a fun and interesting subject along with the kids. It’s worth all the hard times, all the long nights doing lesson plans, all the paperwork strewn around your kitchen table.