Homeschooling — what nobody tells you
We’ve been homeschooling for 15 years. My oldest is a PhD student in physical chemistry. My middle is starting high school, and my youngest is soon to be in junior high. I’ve been around the block a time or two in this realm.
Some things nobody told me that I wish I had known when we started:
- It’s all on you, but it doesn’t have to be. When you start, you are going to feel like you have to do EVERYTHING and by yourself. No.
- You are the extracurricular program director. Recess — you; field trips — you; sports — you; art — you; music — you; STEM/STEAM activities — you. Good news, though, there are so many options, even for people like us who are in the rural middle of nowhere.
- You are going to be responsible for putting your kids in environments where they can meet other kids. That intentionally does NOT read you are responsible for forming friendships for your children.
- You have to figure out what to teach. The buck stops with you. You have a ton of options and plenty of time, so research what you want your child to learn. Start with the end goal in mind and work backwards. Take into account that your child has a unique learning style and interests and you do not have to do what everyone else is doing when they do it or how they do it — hello, homeschool!
- There is such a thing as being too connected and too tuned in. When you find the homeschooling groups, great. Join, check them out. See what clicks, but realistically, you and your kids are not going to fit with every group (and you will find that you do not want to either).
- To each their own. When you are on this journey, you are going to meet some very interesting people who are homeschooling for all sorts of reasons and who hold all sorts of diverse points of view and beliefs. Understand what you think and why you’ve made your choices and stick with what is best for you and yours while keeping an open mind for ways to improve on the experience for both you and your kids.
- Find ways to enjoy it. People who say things like “I couldn’t stand to be around my kid for 8 hours a day” are not going to find homeschooling very pleasant. That doesn’t mean your kids are not going to annoy you and get on your nerves. Just like, newsflash, you are also going to annoy them and get on their nerves. You are living in very close proximity and in almost constant contact with other humans. It gets messy and the edges get a little rough. Perspective is a life saver here — this too shall pass.
- Schedule your time. As the parenting saying goes — the days are long, the years are short. Find the scheduling approach that works best for you, your kids, and your unique situation, but do have one. Otherwise, it’s suddenly the end of the week, and you can’t remember what you’ve done or what you were supposed to do.
- Sleep and try to stay on some sort of sleep schedule. You are going to have some night owls — you may all be night owls. Great. Just find what gives you the most stable and consistent sleep on a regular basis.
- Eat healthy. You are going to be at home a lot, but surprise, since you are the extracurricular activities coordinator, you are probably going to be in your car a lot too. Try to eat healthy on a regular basis.
- Find the humor and the beauty all around you. There are going to be times when all you can seem to see is dirty dishes, laundry piled up, and a child crying over pre-Algebra. You are home. Your children are home. You have the opportunity to love them through this and encourage them as you wanted to be encouraged at that age. That is a gift.