How to Homeschool: Introduction
So you’re thinking about homeschooling…or maybe you’ve already started homeschooling and are struggling. The decision to homeschool is a big undertaking, and sometimes anxiety-inducing. But I want to help you!
So how can I help? By giving you a framework for your research that will give you confidence in your decisions. The reason for this framework is uniqueness.
Why is uniqueness important?
Every child is unique. Like no one else. They each have a unique combination of gifts, abilities, struggles, interests, and quirks.
Every unique child also has parents with their own uniqueness – their own gifts, abilities, struggles, interests, and quirks.
Put all of these unique individuals into a family, and you have a unique family with layers of uniqueness and complexity. Those layers of complexity increase when you look at that family through the lens of a specific season of life, both for each individual and the family as a whole.
Since each family is unique, what works for one family may not work for another. This is especially true for homeschooling, which is pervasive in the way it affects the lives of every member of your family.
In a day when so many people are interested in personality types (including me!), this shouldn’t come as a surprise. (If you’re curious, I’m an INTJ, enneagram type 5.) But somehow, when it comes to children and their education, we tend to default to a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Even homeschoolers, and especially within families.
A Customized Education
The uniqueness of individuals and families can complicate the homeschool decision-making process. We look at how other families homeschool, and it all looks so fun and peaceful and magical. So we think, “I want to homeschool like that!” Or we look at other families with children that are so accomplished and knowledgeable and respectful and we think, “That is how I’ll homeschool!” And it goes on and on.
Add to that the conflicting advice we see
Do lots of crafts! But memorize tons! And spend hours outside! And more hours reading! But don’t let any of it feel like school!
and the homeschooling quotes and memes
Play is the work of childhood! But you also need to train the mind! But wonder is more important! And homeschooled kids are “socialized” just fine! But it’s better not to fit in!
and it all starts getting overwhelming and confusing.
I would love to help you out of that confusion! (Also, don’t take parenting advice from memes. 🙂 )
Types of Homeschool Advice
A lot of homeschool advice falls into two different camps: “Just relax!” or “Do it my way!”
If you’ve been researching homeschooling for any length of time, you’ve probably come across the idea to just relax! Because it’ll be ok! It’ll all work out!
This type of advice about homeschooling reminds me of comments I’ve received from older moms while exhausted with a new baby, or struggling with a toddler, or just generally weary from parenting challenges: “Enjoy this time! You’ll miss it when it’s gone! You’ll wish you could come back to this!”
Yes, I recognize that one day I will miss the charm of toddlers and the joy of childhood. One day I may be sad that my walls are not covered with toothpaste splatters and that my table and counters (and floor and refrigerator and, again, the walls) aren’t smeared with food. But that’s not what I need to hear when I’m struggling. At the very least, I need to hear, “You’re doing great!” Even better is genuine interest in my parenting experience, with maybe some practical advice.
So you won’t hear, “Just relax!” from me. Quite the opposite – do NOT relax. That sense of urgency can be a gift. It motivates us to be extra-vigilant when scoping out new terrain. It reminds us that we have some work to do. It encourages us to get our ducks in a row. That’s the responsible reaction to a decision that will have both personal and legal implications for your family. Once you’ve (somewhat) got those ducks in a row, with the help of the steps I’ll present to you (practical advice!) and further research, then you can relax.
“Do it my way!”
The “Do it my way!” advice is different from the “Just relax!” advice in that you actually do get some practical advice. Unfortunately, since your family is unique, that advice may not work for your family.
Yes, there are homeschool moms that have been homeschooling dozens of kids for decades, and have a ton of experience and knowledge from which to draw. They are experts…in educating their own children. Not yours.
And yes, there’s that author that “everyone” loves, that blogger, that YouTuber that you absolutely must follow and imitate. But just because an author or influencer is popular doesn’t mean that you should model your family after theirs.
Middle Ground – “Find what works for you!”
The homeschool moms that I have appreciated the most have been those that share their own experiences, but acknowledge that something that works for them may not work for everyone.
So I’m not going to tell you what curricula to use. Or what co-op to join. Or whether or not you should use workbooks, or have a schoolroom, or grade your kids’ assignments.
If your family is unique, how could anyone, especially a stranger, be qualified to tell you how to educate your kids? No, I don’t want to tell you what to do. I do want to give you some ideas and tools for understanding your family’s uniqueness so that you can make insightful, lo, even WISE choices for your family. So that you can adjust when things don’t go as planned. Or when life changes. Or when you get to know your family better.
The first three tools I’ll give you should be the first three things that you do, in order, as you work to customize your family’s homeschool (or as you work through the decision-making process of whether or not to homeschool).
After the first three steps, we’ll tackle subjects like educational philosophies, curricula, planning, organization, co-ops, etc. Be sure to join my mailing list so that you’ll be notified when I update this website!
You can do this!
You really can do this! Your educational background, personality type, and work history will not determine your success as a homeschool parent. Your dedication to getting to know your children and determination to make wise choices are much greater contributors to success.
How to Homeschool: Introduction
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