June is here and our first “official” year of homeschooling is coming to an end. While my daughter has been taught many lessons, so have I. Some might think homeschooling is easy and others may think it is hard, I say its a little of both. As with anything in life, it is all about balance and you must be willing to change course if needed. With that being said here are some of the lessons I learned in our first year homeschooling.
- Don’t model your day/experiences after public school
- Don’t be afraid to try something new/different
- Don’t compare anything you do to public school
- Don’t try to make your homeschool day/experiences just like another homeschooling family
- Love your child and your time together
Don’t Model Your Day/Experiences After Public School
I don’t know about you but this is the whole reason why we chose to homeschool our daughter! We want to give her more experiences than the public school can offer. I will admit that I began my teaching career in the public school; so when I began homeschooling my brain was trained with a public school mindset. This made the day very challenging for both me and my daughter, my expectations were so unrealistic.
First of all, school does not have to start at 8am or even 9am, it can start when it best works for your family. For us, this changes depending on the day and what we have planned as a family. Some days we wake up early and get school done before 9am, other days we don’t start school until after lunch. This works for my family but may not be ideal for a family that needs routine and structure. Also, school at home does not take six hours—at least not in the sit at a desk and complete book work way. What do I mean? Well, in truth our children are learning every minute we spend with them but it doesn’t have to be structured textbook learning. Playing with legos, reading a fun book together, listening to music, completing an art project and cooking together are all WONDERFUL learning experiences.
Learning does not have to be stationary!! Your child does not have to sit at a table or desk to be learning!! The world around us provides great learning experiences. As I begin to become more experienced in homeschooling, I am beginning to appreciate this more than ever. See if you are trained in a public school, your eyes become blinded to the world around you and you begin to just teach within four walls. Truthfully, the projects I remember most about my public school education were the ones that had me go outside into the world and learn. These projects were a bug collection (by far my favorite), job shadowing, and a pond study.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New/Different
Yes, I know new and/or different is scary and sometimes unimaginable. At times this is something I struggle with, when I set out to do a project or activity I plan to see it through the way I planned. However, as much as I know my daughter on occasion she will surprise me and need a different plan or course of action. This happened to us at the beginning of the year in reading, I had set out with a plan to have her learn sight words and read corresponding books. After spend about two months in this method I began to realize that she was not actually learning the words but memorizing the pictures on the page. Without the picture she was unable to recognize the word. I became frustrated because I had spend time and resources planning out her reading activities and work, now I had to scratch this approach and search for something new. I invested in a new resource, I was not excited about the method at first but as time went on I could see that it was working!! This new method has worked well for us, we do still have challenging days but the success she is having reading is wonderful to see.
As I mentioned above, I began our homeschool adventure by modeling our day and lessons after traditional schooling. This led to a lot of tears, frustration and anger at times. I was very scared and nervous to move away from the traditional school model, it was the way I was taught in college and it was how I taught in the public school. I did not learn of any homeschool methods in my education career and I had to take the time to research new methods on my own. As I began to break down our current homeschool style, I began to choose more of an unschooling approach. At this moment, this approach is working the best for my daughter and I have learned not to fear changing or trying something different.
Don’t Compare Anything You Do To Public School
When we started homeschooling, I would become worried that I was not doing it right. I would ask other families, who had children in public school what their children were learning. I get hung up on the areas that I was not teaching my daughter and try to add more to our day. I failed to realize that I was teaching my daughter things that the public school was not teaching the children. I had to remind myself that the reason we chose to homeschool was because we did not want the public school mode of teaching. It is important to remember that there are different teaching and learning styles, this can make homeschool look very different from public school. In homeschool because the ratio of children to teacher is so low, teaching can accommodate specific learning styles.
Don’t Try To Make Your Homeschool Day/Experiences Just Like Another Homeschool Family
Pinterest. Blogs. Facebook. Instagram. All of these are great platforms and provide a great deal of support and ideas for homeschooling families. However, I failed my daughter at first because I tried to take another’s homeschool experience and plug it into our life. Now, this is not to say that I have not learned a great deal from others who have been homeschooling longer than we have, but I have learned to embrace individuality. I am part of several homeschool groups on Facebook and I love reading all the different ways we all teach our children the same concept. It just affirms that belief that teaching and learning is vast and not a one size fits all. So, if you are just starting out homeschooling or feeling like you are stuck then by all means reach out to other families. However, don’t beat yourself up or bring your children to the edge of a breakdown because your way is different than someone else.
Love Your Child And Your Time Together
This is the number one reason why we chose to homeschool. I love the time my daughter and I have together, this is not to say we don’t have challenging moments. We do have our challenges, but as I look at them I see them as learning opportunities for my daughter and myself. Yes, I said myself. Choosing to homeschool is shaping me as a parent even more than I thought, I am learning more patience and acceptance. I am learning how to build up and train up my daughter. Trust me, there have been some very hard, soul searching moments and at times I did not think I could continue. Then, I see my daughter and she responds to me in a way that shows me I am the one to be teaching her and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. My daughter turned seven this year and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, Matt and I talk about how we have 11 years left to school her. Ugh! That just seems too short!! So I am learning to embrace where we are in our homeschool journey, to accept that it may look different from others and loving the time we are spending together.