The number of families choosing the path of homeschool continues to skyrocket, according to experts. If you listen closely, you may hear the claps and cheers of millions of experienced homeschooling families who know well the great blessing newcomers are bestowing upon their families with this choice.
Of course, the homeschool route isn’t the easiest road, and starting out into the unknown tends to be the hardest part of the journey. So, for those brave parents choosing to take back the reins and steer their own children’s education and development, here is some advice.
Temper Your Fear
I know that the responsibility you are taking on isn’t one you take lightly. Take the fear every parent has of “messing up” their kid and multiply that by 100 for the new homeschooling parent.
I encourage you to let go of your fear. You are more equipped and capable of the task at hand than anyone else on the planet. In the same way you nurtured and supported your children as they learned to talk, walk, eat, drink, get dressed, brush their teeth, color with crayons, and more—you can guide them in learning about and delightfully exploring any subject. The only expertise required is inherently in you, and you’ve been applying it since your first child was born.
Operating from a place of fear or anxiety will not benefit your homeschool. Work on your mindset to replace fear with joy, enthusiasm, compassion, and curiosity.
Know Your ‘Why’
Take the time to think about and clearly define why you are doing this in the first place. While it may feel second nature to you now, when you come to the most challenging parts of this journey, it helps immensely to have a clear picture to review and remind yourself of the big-picture reasons you’re going through all this trouble.
Write it down, draw pictures, create a vision board—whatever works for you—just capture your clear thinking, your resolve, and your sense of a greater calling leading you to take this step. You’ll be so glad you did.
Resist the temptation to start out on day one going full throttle—diving into every subject under the sun and feverishly working through the volumes of curriculum you purchased.
Start super slow—with the first day resembling more of a celebration than a school day. Take time to establish simple routines and a daily rhythm, enjoy your newfound freedom, and gradually build upon what works over the course of weeks and months.
Set yourself and your children up for success by keeping things simple.
Stay the Course
Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” I don’t know any homeschool parents who hadn’t questioned their choice or whether they should give up. Especially in the very beginning, when the going gets tough, keep going.
It may take a year or more to begin to feel like you might actually know what you’re doing or that this crazy experiment may actually work. That’s normal. Just keep at it. Learn along the way. Get to know your children’s learning styles and interests as deeply as possible and adjust your plans accordingly. You’ll eventually find your groove and be very thankful you didn’t quit.
While this article focused on avoiding pitfalls, please know that this endeavor should be fun! Enjoy this precious time with your kids. Make learning feel like playing. Bake the bread. Go on field trips. Read all the books. Conduct all of the experiments. Hang artwork everywhere.
The freedom you’re taking hold of, the duty you’re being called to, and the blessings you’re courageously welcoming into your family will be felt for a lifetime. There has never been a better time to take on this work. Enjoy every minute.