Intimidated. Overwhelmed. Indecisive.
The first year of homeschooling was all over the place. A big beautiful mess of transition. I had this dreamy idea of how I wanted our days to go, how I wanted our space to look, and all of the subjects listed out that I wanted to explore. We dove headfirst and fell in love with this new chapter. But it wasn’t without a lot of trial and error, listening, and growth. Transitioning from public school to homeschool is a process. I am grateful for our journey and so excited to keep moving forward.
Kansas City has an amazing community of homeschooling families. There are many local resources, groups, and pros ready and willing to support you! Having such a knowledgeable support system already in place made a huge difference. Utilizing social media for support and inspiration has also been a tremendous help. Punch in some keywords that describe your homeschool vision on any platform and discover what’s out there. We follow so many Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Secular, and Brave Writer accounts, and I have put myself out there to establish connections and find amazing resources.
Even with a community behind us, a good idea of which direction I wanted to go with curriculums, and a space ready I still struggled to find my footing. There were bumps I expected and some things I never would have thought about planning or researching, and a whole lot of reflection and personal growth. We are now a year into this journey and I am feeling confident as we begin our second year.
Take your budget into consideration as you plan and prepare. There are plenty of free options but memberships, classes, subscriptions, and curriculums do start to add up. There are always great sales going on for unit studies, supplies, and courses throughout the year, and it’s nice to know there is money allotted. We have invested in a couple of curriculums, some local memberships, and high-quality supplies. Do not get caught off guard or stress about having the money as you get going. Start saving up and create a budget for your homeschool early!
2. Healthy Boundaries
Deciding to commit your family to homeschool is a very personal choice. This decision should be considered thoughtfully with your family’s values, dynamics, and personalities in mind. As you begin, please remember that you are not required to defend or explain your choices to naysayers. From unapproving family members to random cashiers, people will never miss an opportunity to make comments about your family’s educational choice, ask intrusive questions, and pass on their judgments. Do not let it deter you from your reasons why or distract you from loving homeschool.
3. Plan For Your Child
Homeschooling is not public school at home. The first few weeks after pulling our daughter from public school we spent a lot of time trying to replicate core curriculums, schedules, even classroom-type decor. We were butting heads and ending lessons in tears. All the things we were trying to escape! After a few months of deschooling and reevaluating our reasons, our routine and approach have drastically changed. The curriculums and lessons we now choose take our children into consideration, not arbitrary standards and requirements. We learn more about the topics that we are passionate about. We move through work at our own pace. We stop a lesson if it is causing stress and go back to review and rework until we are ready to move forward. Letting go of public school expectations, grade levels, and standardized progress has freed us to just love learning.
4. Don’t Forget YOU
On top of all of the responsibilities of being a stay-at-home parent, adding educating your children to this list is another huge weight to carry. Even though I really love being with my kids and exposing them to as much learning as possible, there are still those moments, those days, those weeks. when I am touched out, overwhelmed, and burnt out. Focusing on maintaining a household, caring for others, and providing a rich learning environment can take a toll. Do not forget to take care of yourself. You have to intentionally make time for yourself, for your passions and dreams, for your own work. Modeling lifelong learning, self-care, and a commitment to yourself is just as important as teaching your kids to read and write. Give yourself time to step away. Work on your projects when kids are working on theirs. Share your passions and include your children in them. You are a crucial part of your homeschool success so please do not take yourself for granted.
5. Clean Your House
Before you begin your homeschool journey take the time to deep clean and organize your home. A clean and peaceful space creates an ideal learning environment for everyone. Not having to worry about where supplies are tucked away, or have mountains of laundry piled up leaves more time to focus on the good stuff. It’s extremely frustrating and moment killing if you have to stop to clear a space or search for materials when you’re trying to do school work. Starting and ending in a tidy space sets the stage for a successful day. Less time cleaning, more time learning.
One beautiful part of homeschooling is time. Time to put away a lesson if we need to go back and review. Time to dive deeper into a subject that has captivated our minds. Time to scrap an entire curriculum and start over if it’s just not working. We base our progress off of the individual child, and not any grade level titles. As long as they are each making progress, I know our time is being well spent. We love getting to travel and take as much time with family and breaks as we want. When you are not basing your schedule off of someone else’s clock, you can fit in learning opportunities any time of the day. Not being rushed, timed, or left behind has changed the way we learn and grow.
I know one year into this whole thing is nothing. We have such a long road ahead of us and much more to learn. Starting off with a strong foundation, some inspiration and direction, and willingness to grow will make you a confident and successful homeschooling family. Good luck!