10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Homeschooling

What was a waste of time?
What should I have spent more time on?
What is the biggest lesson I have learned?

Tune in this week while we discuss these topics and more!

Things I with I knew before homeschooling

Episode 020:

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There are so many things we wish we had known when we started homeschooling. Perhaps you are a new homeschooling parent just starting to navigate this journey. When we first started homeschooling, we didn’t know anything about homeschooling and it made it seem very overwhelming. While the list of things we wish we’d known before starting homeschooling is much larger, today we are sharing the top 10. 

Deschooling

If you are brand new to homeschooling and withdrew (or considering withdrawing) your child from a traditional school environment, Deschooling is an essential step to successfully homeschool. Deschooling will help reengage your child and reignite their love for learning. You’ll spend time reconnecting with them and figuring out what kind of education you want to provide so if your kids are in an unhealthy environment, pull them out NOW and start this process. You don’t have to have it all figured out to begin. This period of time is also helpful to the homeschooling parent. You have time to get your ducks in a row, do some homeschooling research, figure out what you think your homeschool philosophy or style will be, and order supplies. There is no need to keep your child in a bad situation because you think you don’t have a plan.  Take the time to figure things out. You will not ruin your child of any age or make them “behind” by taking this necessary time to Deschool. During this time, check out the TOP 10 Books Every Homeschooler Should Read.

1. Don’t compare yourself with others. (5:24)

You do not need to keep up with public school, private school or anybody else’s homeschool. Also, don’t compare your child’s accomplishments or failures against any other child. They are individuals.  It’s easy to see what people post on social media with their perfect homeschool rooms and lives and think that is reality. It’s not.  It’s just a highlight reel.

math anxiety
Go at your own pace
Spend more time on concepts that are hard and slow down and skip mastered concepts.

Unless you plan to send your kids back, you really don’t need to keep on track with what public schools are doing. Do your own thing.  There is no behind in homeschooling, and unless you are bound otherwise by state laws, you can go at your own pace and on your own schedule. It doesn’t take all day to homeschool. Much of the time that children spend at school is spent in waiting, recess, and lunch. Even though kids are at school for about 8 hours a day, they aren’t actually doing school work that whole time. So don’t try to copy the schools or another family’s homeschool. Don’t worry if someone else spends six-plus hours a day, and your kids are done in two or three hours! Keep in mind that kids are learning all the time. 

I encourage you to celebrate the individuality of your child, your family and your unique homeschool. You will all be much happier and content in the long run.

2. Find your people (7:48)

Do whatever you can to get into a community of like-minded kids and parents as soon as possible. It was an absolute lifesaver to find like-minded families. We started off in the beginning with great park day groups.  These were our main connections. We camped together, did co-ops together, found lifelong friends, and our children grew up together. These relationships have been so fulfilling and long lasting. And that’s not just friends for your kids, it’s friends with other parents. No one is going to get your daily struggles like another homeschool mom will. Find your people and debunk the SOCIALIZATION Myth!

Skate park play
Regular friend hangouts is fun for you and your kids

You will question yourself especially in the beginning, which is normal and okay. Find other homeschoolers to encourage and support you.  Sometimes, on the hardest of days, you just need to hear someone tell you that you are doing a great job.  Or you need to tell your friend that what they are doing is enough.  We always question that, and honestly, it’s the sign that you are a great parent. Ways to Gain Confidence as a Homeschooler

3. You don’t have to follow a curriculum verbatim, and grades are not that important.  (9:35)

You are making the schedule and you can decide to omit mastered concepts. You can and should skip things that don’t work for you or your child. You don’t have to use school textbooks.  You can hand pick your curriculum.  It’s one of the greatest things about homeschooling. 

Grades don’t always reflect learning
Take a lot of field trips to keep learning fun! (printing press)

We also want to emphasize that grades aren’t everything. Does your boss care what your GPA was when you were in school? Of course not! This kind of thing holds no meaning once you are out of school. Felicia Day is a popular YouTube star and actress that also happened to be homeschooled and in college fairly young and was a total perfectionist.  She had a professor of a very difficult math class tell her, “It’s ok to take a B.  No one cares about your 4.0.  You don’t need to kill yourself for a grade.” What’s the saying?  C’s get degrees?  Don’t get caught up in the grade that you lose sight of the real purpose of homeschooling. To educate your child and foster a life-long learner. Grades don’t always reflect that.

Complete Curriculum Guide >>

Another thing to keep in mind is that your child will be in different grade levels for different subjects. This is completely normal and again one of those benefits to homeschooling that you can completely cater their education to their level.  Remember, schools need to keep children within their factory level grades because it is the easiest way to manage the sheer volume of kids that work through their system. More than likely, that will not be the case with your child. Maybe they will be in 5th grade level math, but still working on reading proficiently. 

4. We are the masters of our own time (13:27)

Homeschooling affords us a lot of extra time to master concepts or enjoy a beautiful day outside. Homeschool Field Trips are a great way to learn! Be sure to download your Free Field Trip Bundle

When your child shows an interest in something, capitalize on that and abandon other things to dive deep into whatever ignited them. This keeps the excitement alive with learning. And also you can encourage them to spend their extra free time exploring their passions and interests. Learn more about Creating an Entire Homeschool Lifestyle.

BTDT Homeshool Lesson Planner & Ultimate Organizer is an essential tool for every homeschooling family! This 187-page planner is all about tailoring it to your unique needs and making your homeschooling journey a breeze. See A Video Walk Through>>

That’s the benefit of not being a slave to a clock or someone else’s schedule. You also don’t have to keep to a traditional school schedule.  We’ve schooled all year round for most of our homeschool career.  It really wasn’t until we took college dual credit classes that we really started working around a county school calendar.

Kids choosing and planning an impromptu roadtrip on a SCHOOL DAY!

If you are having one of those terrible no-good days, step away. We had a recent episode where we talked about Surviving a Bad Day.  It’s ok to spend an impromptu day in a nerf battle, hiking a trail, or enjoying the latest traveling exhibit at your local museum. Do schoolwork on stormy days and abandon academics and get out on those glorious days where other kids are stuck in a classroom. Take full advantage that you are in charge of your schedule.

5. You don’t owe extended family, random friends, or strangers at the grocery an explanation of your homeschooling.  (14:51)

I always tell people, spend less time with unsupportive people.  Don’t include people in conversations where the result is that they think they have a vote. They may try to quiz your child on fractions or stress you out with socialization questions everytime you see them, but you don’t have to give any energy to that. Simply say, “this is what works for us” and move on. 

I love when a stranger once asked, “aren’t you worried about socialization?” and I said, “Of course! That’s why I don’t want to send them to school!”  It’s funny when a stranger at the store asks you something like that while you are out with your kids.  What do you think we are doing right now?  Talking to you. Interacting in public.  Socialization is one of the biggest myths in homeschooling.  But What About Socialization? Learn More

6. You don’t have to be available for everyone else just because you have chosen a more flexible lifestyle.  (16:02)

You don’t have to be a YES person. You may be out and about exploring with your kids, but that doesn’t mean you have time to do extra favors all the time for friends and family. You have chosen a lifestyle with more freedom so go enjoy it without guilt.

And some of this is even just typical for all stay-at-home moms- just because we don’t have a job doesn’t mean we can sit around all day for the washer repairman.  We have busy schedules and work to do with our kids.

7. You are well qualified to teach your kids (17:51)

There is nobody more qualified to teach your children than you are. As you read to them, spend time with them, and watch them as they learn new things, you will be learning right alongside them. There is no one that loves them as you do, or knows them as well as you do.The greater culture doesn’t set parents up with confidence if they opt out of the public school system. That sense of doubt, fear of failure, and overwhelm can become great. But you absolutely are qualified to do this!

You know your child best and are qualified to teach them!

You know your child and their needs better than anyone. You probably already do know more than you think you do, but you also have a ton of resources available to teach.  There are fully scripted curriculums, there are classes that can be outsourced, there are classes you can take together and other instructions available for things.  As a homeschool parent, you don’t have to be an expert.  No teacher has all the answers, but they know where to find them. As we look for answers while teaching our kids, we are teaching them how to be lifelong learners. You will make mistakes but that doesn’t mean you are a bad parent or homeschooler.

If you find certain subjects challenging to teach or if your child has specific educational needs, consider enlisting the help of tutors or specialized educational programs or outsourcing classes. We both have outsourced classes-math and science, writing classes on Outschool.

8. All kids are different. (20:16)

Their temperament, their learning style, and the way they interact with you is different for all kids. Parenting and homeschooling styles with change for each child. They are not cookie cutter people and the way you interact with them shouldn’t be either. Again this is where that big benefit of being able to cater to your child comes in.  Everything from curriculum to schedule to style is something you get to decide. Find what works for your special, unique child, and do that!

9. Relationships are more important than academics. (21:27)

Don’t get wrapped up in a teacher/student mentality.  Remember that we are first parent and child and we are here to shape and guide and grow these little beings.  Some who end up turning to homeschool from a traumatic school situation may need some extra time being nurtured.  We also may have sensitive children who need a little extra attention or a different approach to harder topics. We may have a unique family dynamic that demands a different style.

Enjoy time with your children (surfing on a school day)

There were many times in my early days of homeschooling when I would get frustrated and impatient with one of my kids when they just couldn’t “get it”. This not only can kill their love of learning, but it also hurts your relationship. You will have bad days. We are all human and will mess up and lose our cool. Do your best to learn from the situation and do better next time. When things go really bad or you are not feeling like you made a good choice to homeschool,  stop and remember all the reasons why you have chosen to homeschool. Look at the big picture and know this too shall pass. Learn Strategies to Keep Learning Fun.

10. Reading. (24:12)

Read to your children EVERY Day.
Teach them to enjoy great literature.

Reading to my children was the single most important thing we did in our homeschool. Even older students benefit from being read to. And it doesn’t have to be boring schoolbooks.  We read everything- all kinds of styles, authors, genres. When you model reading to your child, and when you read to them, you are instilling a lifelong love of reading, which in turn creates lifelong learners. Be sure to check out our Top 50 Books for New Readers!

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