Gaining Confidence as a Homeschooler
Whether you’re a new homeschooler or have been homeschooling for years, every one of us has encountered fear and worry at some point. In today’s episode 041, we are going to be talking about building the confidence in yourself and giving you the tools you’ll need when you’re struggling and needing assurance.
* How do I know when to start homeschooling?
* How do I teach subjects I don’t know?
* How do I build up my confidence as a homeschool mom?
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We all want the best for our children. Whether you’re a new homeschooler or have been homeschooling for years, everyone experiences fear and worry at some point. Sometimes when we have friends whose children are excelling in a certain subject, or sport, and we see their highlight reel on social media, it can be intimidating. But we all have these moments! We all feel uncertain about all our life choices at one point or another, it’s not just homeschooling.
There are a lot of reasons why people feel uncertain. This may be a brand-new road for them or sometimes it’s a matter of how aware we are of our own shortcomings. I struggled in math for years, and now I was taking on the responsibility of TEACHING math?! Or we struggled wondering if we would have the patience required to sit through lessons. Was I capable? How in the world was I ever going to teach upper-level science when I didn’t even understand it myself? It’s completely normal to lack confidence in something that you’ve not experienced before. Even if you’ve struggled with a subject in the past, you can be an exceptional teacher because you’re passionate about learning and teaching it now.
A big reason that people struggle with this is when a concerned and unsupportive friend or family member, or even a spouse puts doubt in their heads and tells them that they are incapable of such an undertaking. There are all kinds of stereotypes about homeschoolers out there, but most are simply NOT true. You are capable of homeschooling your children, and setting them up for success in homeschool, in college, and in life. It may be best to spend less time with unsupportive people.
We talk about dealing with naysayers in Episode 011. All About Family
If you have an unsupportive spouse, it’s important to listen to each other and your concerns – both of you. Homeschooling is a family decision and it’s an entire lifestyle. Let the results of all that you and your kids accomplish speak for themselves. Be patient with your partner as they grow to accept and hopefully embrace this new life. Have confidence in yourself and move forward and know it takes some people longer than others to get on board. Remember, they also have your kids’ best interest at heart.
Socialization: Episode 047. Socialization: Will My Child be a Weirdo?
Remember that there is no one more qualified to teach your children than you are. You’ve been teaching them all their life. In this episode, we are going to be identifying some strategies to help build your confidence but really the best way to grow in confidence as a homeschool mom is to DO IT. When we’ve decided that this is the best path for our children, if we are so terrified of making mistakes that we never try homeschooling or quit at the first sign of challenge, that is the real failure. If you are new to homeschooling, check out our Homeschool FAQ Guide.
There are so many reasons that families choose to homeschool. Some families have concerns about safety and their child’s well being and want to have more control over their socialization (possibly they have gotten caught up in the wrong crowd or bad influences that are affecting them negatively) or they may want to incorporate their beliefs, whether that be religious or cultural beliefs. Children who have had negative experiences in traditional schools, like bullying or social challenges, or feeling like a failure when they couldn’t keep up can thrive in homeschool.
Some parents are interested in customizing their child’s educational experience to meet their child’s individual learning style, pace, and interests. Some parents believe that they can provide a higher quality of education than what is available in the local public or private schools or theory may prefer alternative education philosophies. This personalized approach can lead to better academic outcomes.
Especially for children with special learning needs or learning disabilities, homeschooling can provide a more supportive and tailored educational experience. Gifted children also benefit since you can provide a more challenging or advanced curriculum.
Families with non-traditional lifestyles, such as frequent travel or remote living, may find homeschooling to be a more practical educational option. Homeschooling offers flexibility in scheduling, allowing families to create a learning environment that accommodates travel, family commitments, and other activities. Homeschooling allows for increased family bonding and more time spent together, strengthening parent-child and sibling relationships.
Every family’s decision to homeschool is unique and personal. Each family’s reasons and motivations may differ based on their specific circumstances, values, and beliefs. We always like to point out that every homeschool family is different. A lot of the time, we may be homeschooling for completely opposite reasons. But at the end of the day, we believe ALL parents CAN homeschool. You really just have to want to.
Create an entire Homeschool Lifestyle!
How do I know when to start homeschooling? (13:23)
Deciding when to start homeschooling is a significant decision that depends on several factors, including your child’s age, developmental readiness, family circumstances, and your personal preferences. Here are some indicators that it might be the right time to start homeschooling:
Maybe you have always planned to homeschool? Consider your child’s developmental stage and readiness for formal learning. Some children may be eager to learn and show signs of readiness at an early age, while others may benefit from more time in a less structured learning environment. Once you’ve made a decision to homeschool, I know how exciting it can be, but I would encourage you to not let your eagerness overshadow your child’s readiness. We see a lot of parents wanting to start formal lessons when their child is clearly showing signs that they aren’t ready. This can often lead to frustration for both you and them. Young children learn and retain information best through play-based learning.
If you have concerns about the traditional education system, such as the curriculum, teaching methods, or class sizes, and safety homeschooling can provide an alternative approach that addresses these concerns.
If your child has specific learning needs or interests that are not adequately met in a traditional school setting, homeschooling can offer a more personalized and tailored learning experience.
Consider whether you have the time, energy, and willingness to take on the role of a homeschooling parent. Homeschooling requires dedication and active involvement in your child’s education. Lessons may not take long, but homeschooling is more than academics. Your kids need to get out in their community and be with friends hanging at the park or playing board games, getting hands-on at the museums. Remember, learning doesn’t stop when the school books close and choosing to homeschool is a lifestyle.
Assess the availability of support networks, such as homeschooling communities, co-ops, and online resources. Connecting with other homeschooling families can provide valuable support and social opportunities for both you and your child.
Ensure that you are aware of the homeschooling laws and regulations in your country or state. Familiarize yourself with any necessary paperwork or reporting requirements.
If you’re unsure, you can start with a trial period of homeschooling to see how it works for your family. This will allow you to assess whether homeschooling is a good fit before committing to it long-term. If you’re pulling your child from a school environment that was not working for them, it’s important to spend some time going through the process of Deschooling. We have an entire episode about that but in summary, it is a process to help your child transition into homeschooling if they’ve been in a school environment. If you are deschooling, download your FREE 90 Deschooling and Boredom Ideas List.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the decision to homeschool should be based on what you believe is best for your child and family. Take the time to research, reflect, and discuss the idea with your partner and any other involved parties before making a final decision. But also remember that like we talked about in our deschooling episode, don’t be afraid to take that plunge. You don’t have to keep your kid in a bad situation because you feel like you don’t have a plan. You aren’t going to ruin a 4th grader by pulling them now and going through the process of Deschooling while you figure things out.
How do I teach subjects I don’t know? (19:00)
You do not need to be an expert in any subject to adequately teach your children. Teaching subjects you don’t know as a homeschooler can be a bit challenging, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for both you and your children to learn together. Here are some strategies to tackle this situation:
Scripted Curriculum: Many curricula are totally scripted- the entire lesson is laid out for you with your questions and answers. This takes so much of the pressure off! And speaking of curricula- there’s a million options out there (we just did an episode on the 7 steps to choosing curriculum) so don’t feel like you need to come up with something on your own. Visit our Curriculum Guide>>
Hands on Learning: So many children, especially young ones learn best with hands-on activities. We did so much of this with my kids. With math for instance, If you can count and recognize numbers you can teach a 3 year old math. Use objects to help your child visualize counting. Read books with numbers and counting. Point things out in everyday life.
Online Resources: Use online learning platforms, educational websites, and tutorials to learn the subject with your child. There are numerous resources available for various subjects, including math, science, coding, languages, and more. Khan academy is one we use often when we have trouble with a math or science problem and need a better explanation. BrainPOP is an excellent resource that we have used for years.
Along with that is….Educational Apps and Software: Explore these tools that provide interactive learning experiences for your children. Many of these are designed to be self-guided, making it easier for your kids to explore subjects independently. While we don’t advocate for online programs for little kids, there are a lot of cute supplementary apps and programs that can help with things like reading. Starfall is a good option for younger kids.
Online Courses and local classes or tutoring: Consider enrolling your children in online courses or outsourcing to a local teacher or tutor who specializes in the subject you are unfamiliar with. This can provide them with expert guidance and support in their learning journey. We used both Outschool for all kinds of subjects and Thinking Reeds for upper-level science and math.
Co-ops with Other Homeschoolers: Connect with other homeschooling families who have expertise in the subjects you’re less familiar with. Organize study groups or cooperative learning sessions where kids can learn together under the guidance of parents with more knowledge in those areas.
Library Resources: Utilize your local library to find books, DVDs, and other resources related to the subjects you want to teach. Libraries often offer educational programs and workshops, which can be beneficial for both you and your kids. Use Libby at your local library
Field Trips and Real-Life Experiences: Whenever possible, incorporate field trips and real-life experiences related to the subject. Visiting museums, science centers, historical sites, or nature reserves can enhance learning and understanding. We have an entire resource page on field trips that is totally awesome! Download your FREE Field Trip Packet
Documentaries and Educational Videos: Use educational documentaries and videos as supplementary learning materials. They can provide valuable insights and explanations on various topics. We love Crash Course, and Horrible Histories Videos, and Donuts and Documentaries Monday!
Horrible Histories explores the side of history that they don’t teach you about in school! From the Vicious Vikings and Awful Egyptians to the Slimy Stuarts and Terrible Tudors, Horrible Histories covers the funniest, yuckiest and most gruesome bits of history for kids.
Encourage Independent Learning: Foster a love for self-directed learning in your children. Provide them with the necessary tools and resources, and encourage them to explore subjects on their own with your support and guidance. Encourage your children to ask questions and explore their interests. Facilitate their curiosity-driven learning, and let their interests guide the direction of their studies.
Learn Alongside Your Children: Embrace the journey of learning together with your kids. Show them that it’s okay not to have all the answers, and that learning is a lifelong process. While you may not be an expert in a particular subject, you can still teach core skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and communication. These skills are valuable in any subject area. It’s important to model that we are also continuing our education as adults- we never really stop. Remember, homeschooling is about creating a nurturing and supportive learning environment. Embrace the opportunity to learn alongside your children, and you’ll not only gain knowledge in new subjects but also set a wonderful example of lifelong learning.
How do I build up my confidence as a homeschool parent? (27:18)
Building up your confidence as a homeschool parent is essential for creating a positive and effective learning environment for your children. A lot of homeschool parents talk about how they NEVER believed they were capable! Maybe you didn’t do well in school yourself, but you are your child’s parent and the person who loves them the most in this world, so you are the best person to be teaching them! You will know what’s best for them and the fact that you know you want to homeschool is a sign of that.
- Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives for homeschooling. Knowing what you want to achieve will give you a sense of purpose and direction, making it easier to stay confident in your decision.
- Educate Yourself: Continuously learn about homeschooling methods, curriculum options, and child development. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to handle challenges and make informed decisions. Top 10 Books Every Homeschool Parent Should Read
- Create a Supportive Learning Environment: Organize your homeschooling space to foster a positive and engaging learning environment for your children, which will also boost your confidence as you see them thrive.
- Start Small: Begin with manageable tasks and gradually expand your responsibilities as you gain confidence. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once.
- Be Flexible: Homeschooling may require adjustments along the way. So Stay open to trying different approaches and adapting your methods as needed.
- Join Homeschooling Communities: Connect with other homeschooling parents through online forums, social media groups, or local support networks. Sharing experiences, tips, and encouragement with like-minded individuals can be very empowering. Don’t hesitate to seek advice or guidance from experienced homeschooling parents, educational consultants, or even therapists. Having someone to talk to can help you gain perspective and new ideas.
- Attend Workshops and Conferences: Participate in homeschooling workshops, conferences, and seminars to gain new insights, meet other homeschooling parents, and stay motivated.
- Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate both your children’s and your own accomplishments. Acknowledge the progress you make, no matter how small it may seem.
- Embrace Mistakes: Understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of being discouraged, use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
- Reflect on Your Children’s Progress: Keep a record of your children’s achievements, their academic progress, and personal growth. Sometimes just Reviewing these positive outcomes can remind you of how far you’ve come and the significant value you bring to their education.
- Trust Yourself: Remember that you know your children better than anyone else. Trust your instincts and intuition when making decisions about their education.
- Self-Care: Take time for yourself. Set aside time for relaxing, hobbies, exercise, and activities that recharge you. You know I love my sports! A well-rested and balanced mom is better equipped to handle all those homeschooling challenges.
- Practice Patience: Be patient with yourself and your children. Homeschooling is a journey, and progress may not always be linear.
By incorporating these strategies, you can gradually build your confidence as a homeschool mom and provide your children with a fulfilling and enriching educational experience. Confidence is a journey, and it’s okay to have moments of doubt. We all have these feelings at one time or another! Embrace the challenges, celebrate the successes, and enjoy the process of learning and growing together. Take some time to write down all the reasons why you have chosen to homeschool. In these moments when doubt and fear surface, go back and read and reflect on the big picture. It’s essential to remember all the reasons why you chose to homeschool in the first place. Homeschooling is not something you have to do, it’s something you choose to do because you know in your heart this is the right path for your family.