Editor Highlight, Homeschool

Advice From a Homeschool Mom Survivor

Advice From a Homeschool Mom Survivor

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
So, you decided to do it. Welcome to homeschool! Get ready for fun, stress, and joy. It’s wonderful, scary, and an adventure. And you’ll receive tons of advice. Before you ask: yes, you will need it! You want it, I know. But you’ll probably ignore most advice, and in a year, you’ll find yourself sharing that same advice you ignored as the “veteran homeschool parent” to others. It’s okay, we’ve all been there! When first homeschooling, you’ll be frustrated and overwhelmed. You’ll also bond with your kids with time you never had before and be amazed by their development. More importantly, your child’s learning enthusiasm will surprise you when you let them guide you. The sky is the limit! With each passing day, you’ll love homeschooling more. That being said, here is some advice from the trenches. Take it, leave it, or giggle about it – it’s all personal experience.

Homeschool Advice From a Mom

  1. You will stress way too much over whether you should do this in the first place! You will spend time, tears, and emotional angst certain you are doing the right thing, the wrong thing, and that you will ruin your child! You will start from a place where you know nothing and believe every misconception about home school. (Hint: Contrary to the myths, homeschooling is not remotely like remote learning!) This is NORMAL. You are not ruining your children. You are simply exploring a way of learning that is totally unfamiliar and foreign feeling to you. Think of it like getting the courage to move to France when you don’t speak French! It’s an excellent decision but terrifying at times.
  2. You will add too much curriculum in the beginning.

    In the beginning, you’ll add too much curriculum. Welcome to a whole new type of shopaholic fun you never experienced before! You will want to buy everything you see or find every free worksheet or educational “thing” you can and use it all. There are over a thousand curriculums in Anything Academic, not to mention the thousands more of learning resources. You can’t do them all, nor should you! So reduce, reduce, reduce!
  3. Okay, good job reducing! After you reduce your child’s class and curriculum requirements, it will still be too much!

    I’m not kidding. It bears repeating. Reduce! Leave time in your day for a lot of spontaneity. Discuss whatever comes up, go chasing a new subject down a rabbit hole, and discover where in fact, wombats come from. You NEED this time. Your kids need it more than you do. The sooner you learn to let go of the “we must do everything” idea, the more fun everyone will enjoy and the more they will learn. Seriously, trust me on this.
  4. Your schedule is helpful. But it’s just a guide. Be ready to tear it up every single day.

    Simply put, you will teach them things that you didn’t plan for the day. This is where partial unschooling comes in. Here’s how it happens: Today, you planned a structured science and space lesson with your newly purchased curriculums. But five minutes into your “plan,” you start reminiscing about watching Space Camp and being inspired when you were 10. So, you and your kids start watching “Space Camp” for 1.5 hours and discuss how to become an astronaut. Only, 1.5 is really 3 hours because you pause every five minutes to talk about something science/social mentioned in the movie. (By the way, get used to pausing frequently when you watch and discuss anything!) Then, you spend another hour reading NASA’s history, so they watch “The Right Stuff” at night with Daddy. Next, they run off to read about the planets and moons, intermittently yelling that they need a telescope NOW.  
    Protip: Tell them to ask Grandma for Christmas!
    One also texts you to watch the Falcon launch tomorrow. She found it on the NASA website while randomly exploring (ahem, researching). Here is the punchline. Your kids, who had no interest in space at all this morning, now all want to be astronauts when they grow up and go to Space Camp. Remember, this is normal. Enjoy this free-form education. They will learn tons of science and go looking for books to teach themselves. You win when you wander in to find your child on the floor, drawing the solar system, watching a YouTube video on the sun, and reading picture books about planets all at once. Give them time to do this! Seriously, when it happens back away quietly. Just don’t forget to take pictures for their portfolio and as proof of the miracle of homeschooling to show your spouse.
  5. It will be your stress, not your kids, that will sink the first few weeks. Learn to let go. I swear it works.

    Boy, this is a doozy. Ironically, it’s not your kids’ expectations that usually cause stress, it’s yours. This is not school, so don’t try to make it school. I’ll never forget what happened when I finally stopped “organizing” so much and started letting them lead. It was amazing. Does this mean that you shouldn’t have a schedule? Of course not. But when the plan goes sideways for something amazing or when you decide family game night is important, the morning after can be slow. It will all get done. It just doesn’t have to get done in regular 45-minute time blocks like school. That is what makes homeschool work. Feeling the love for social studies today? Then spend the whole day on it and do science tomorrow. Anything but math, right?  
    Protip: Do math every day!
  6. You will hear all about deschooling.

    Most likely, you’ll end up deschooling in some way. Maybe at first, maybe later. Maybe as you go. But, it’s part of the process. As a type-A OCD mom, I would have never done it. But it happens, so let it come and choose how and when. The point of deschooling is (1) to teach everyone that this is not school and the rules do not apply, and (2) that everyone can learn to learn all by themselves while having a blast. Deschooling is not “not learning.” They will learn while you do it. But they will learn that learning doesn’t have to be fully structured and can happen anywhere lifelong.
  7. Let your kids help decide what to learn.

    No, not all of it and yes, they have to do math every day, but let them pick some subjects. Let them help decide which curriculum works. Allow them to choose what they learn and watch them want to learn MORE as their passions drive them. Find an online book club. Join a co-op class of their choice that is totally random. Not in the “normal” path for their grade level? Who cares! If they want to do it and are passionate about it, they will learn.
  8. Be willing to toss all your plans and start over by about month 2 when you KNOW SO MUCH MORE. Your kids will do fine!

    You don’t know what you don’t know yet. (YDNWYDN) You will look back in 2 months and want to change it all and you should! Whatever is not working, discard. This is not school. You are not stuck with the same course/way for a year. If it is not working throw it out. You will do this often.
  9. Don’t wait. Start now.

    If you wait until you finally figure out “just the right stuff,” you will take forever! Start with something simple while you figure out what to do. A good all-in-one child-led program is an easy way to begin. Let the kids learn while you explore other options. Many of them let you pay monthly (or are free), so what do you have to lose? For about $25/mo per child for all classes, your kids can actively learn while you find that “perfect curriculum.” Check out All-in-one curriculums here!
  10. Add art, languages, coding, robotics, drama, music. Or WHATEVER.

    Don’t forget! Does your kid want French? Why not? Think about out-of-the-box options, American Sign Language, Japanese, Arabic, Chinese. The sky is the limit. Find a tutor, curriculum, or self-taught program. There are even programs like TalkBoxMom that have you all learn as a family!
  11. Let go of the rigid schedule.

    Kids enjoying science today? Do 3 hours. Do science experiments, watch a documentary or just enrich it another way. There is not a “timer” saying you have to switch lessons. Do history later this week and do the same thing then. Blocks of information are fine. You are not on a 45 min per class schedule here. Dig deep, get it done as you enjoy. You can do an entire day on a subject. But not Math! Math every day! Remember!
  12. You are an awesome Mom/Dad/Grandparent and you are totally going to mess up.

    You’ve heard the stories of the blissful homeschool families. They are always smiling in the pictures, right? Honestly, is your family like that all the time? No? Neither is mine. Set reasonable expectations. Truth is, you are going to be frustrated with your children or spouse, especially at the beginning. This too shall pass, mostly. Everyone is learning something new. Here is the clincher: You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to make learning fun and encourage them to love it. Perfection is boring. It means you can’t learn something new and improve. Strive to be the best you can be, and always be looking to do more.  
    Protip: Find your tribe and get mentors. Don’t do this alone. Check out the co-op and Facebook lists to find your community!
  13. It’s okay to do work lying on the floor cuddled under a blanket with the dog as long as they get all the questions right. If they don’t, rethink the strategy.

    If you want a fancy desk setup and it works for you, go for it. But if your child learns on the sofa, in bed, sprawled on a bean bag, outside on the patio, at the kitchen table, in a park, in the library, or wherever – let it happen as long as the work gets done! Flexibility is a privilege, not a right. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a “home classroom” setup. Odds are, your kids won’t even use it. That same space might be a future art studio, architectural haven, chemistry lab, game room, or even a place to keep all those science projects. Wait and see what you need before spending the money.
  14. If your child wants to stay up reading (Hallelujah!), just start a little later the next morning.

    Seriously, you are in charge here. School days are when you say they are. Your kid is asking to read! READ! Go with it. Maybe they will just need a bit more sleep the next day, so what? You aren’t on someone else’s schedule. You are on yours. The same thing goes for family game night, that great documentary you are watching, etc. School is not 8-3. School is every time. Feel free to adjust the schedule to make it work for you. This doesn’t mean video games every morning (though I suppose it could). There still needs to be some structure, just feel free to toss it when needed and logical.
  15. Building forts can be an engineering class.

    Look up the best forts! Let them learn how to research online safely. Find models and let them design sketches. Do revisions! Have fun. (Yes, they can build a modeling prototype in Minecraft if they want, but only “after school” or with your permission.) Basically, anything you do can become educational. Learning is not accomplished through textbooks or workbooks alone. You can learn all the time. Find fun and knowledge in whatever you do. This is a big mindset change. In some ways, this is the hardest part to get your head around. That doesn’t mean that every activity becomes a didactic “now-sit-down-while-I-lecture.” No, instead, a zoo trip means putting a child in charge of “teaching” you about the exhibit and being the leader. A beach trip may be about the architectural design of sandcastles and erosion and marine biology – just add in the splashing, swimming, and sandcastles.
  16. Let go of a clean/ordered house at first.

    Yes, you can demand the house stay tidy, but make room for science experiments in the kitchen and an art studio in the garage. And when your kitchen table has green spots from a science experiment gone awry, just chill. It’s worth it. Just teach those cleaning life skills! Teach them to do the dishes, put things away, and maybe more household chores – time and age permitting. Life skills can be a class in your schedule. The same goes for cooking. You cook it, you clean it.
  17. Sloppy math?

    Get graph paper and make them write their answers to keep it neat, tidy, and in line. And again, get math done every day. Repetition matters as well as staying on schedule with math. The other subjects can be more organic. If you get behind in math, you will be sorry.
  18. Set expectations.

    Do this early and stick to them! Decide to uphold things like cursive, neatness, and full sentences. In fact, they can even do it in bed as long as it’s neat. Understand? Increase your expectations of your children with time as well. As they become more mature, responsible, and attuned to homeschool life, start upping your game. It will keep them on their toes. Oh, and tell them you are going to do this!
  19. Exercise can be walking the dog, trying to murder daddy by jumping on his back, and more. A good family tussle burns lots of calories! And yes, Dance Dance Revolution counts. You can even drink a margarita while they do it. Better yet, ditch the drink and do it with them. Be competitive. Dance your heart out. Sports lessons can be at 8 AM instead of 4 in the afternoon when it’s hot. Tennis in the morning makes sense. So does golf, running, bicycling and more. Remember, the schedule is up to you! Group sports usually adhere to team schedules, but you may find dojos, dance studios, and even some sports teams offer homeschool lessons. Look for sports with your local co-op. Sports are also excellent ways to stay social. But if you’re looking for something more unique, that’s fine too. Parkour in the backyard, anyone? At the very least, get out of the house, take a walk and teach while walking. Everyone benefits!

  20. Play games. Lots of games.

    Seriously, play games with your kids. I’m not just talking about the 5-year-old here. As they get older, play games that teach lessons and subjects. Discover gameschooling! Family game nights count as education! Think geography, strategy, social skills, and more. Consider learning from games like Risk, Trivial Pursuit, and Monopoly, which teach about money, math, and investing. Anything can be Academic (my favorite mantra)!
  21. Keep some sort of records.

    This varies state by state. Know your state’s requirements. This does not have to be hard. Read all about portfolios. Do this not just for your state laws but also for fun and to keep your own record. There are many great helpful planner programs.
  22. Like ice cream, homeschooling comes in many flavors.

    This might be the most important thing to learn. Not everyone will homeschool like you. You will think some of them are a little strange. Some of them will think you are strange. It won’t matter, you’ll all get along and train your kids together. Everyone has something of value to contribute and sometimes they will surprise you. That kid who you thought was just odd? They teach an awesome art class. The mom you just can’t connect well with? She will be there when you have an emergency with the kids. So be kind, patient, and understanding of all the glorious types of homeschool. Secular or religious, unschooled or traditional, it takes all types.

Do What Works For You

So there you have it. The first of the “advice” to take to heart. Listen, don’t listen. Use what works for you. Every family is different. Every child’s needs are different. But if homeschool is not working for you, I suggest you take a good look at this list and think about what you could change to make it work. The last and final rule of homeschool is simple. If what you are doing is not working, change it. Anytime. That is the simple beauty of homeschool. It’s always evolving, just like you and your family. Enjoy this journey. You will laugh, cry, and love it.
Author’s note: This is my slightly (but not really) tongue-in-cheek advice. Every one of these tips is true except for the margarita. I had a Sprite.  
Need some help with all of this? Trying to find curriculums or resources and well, Anything Academic? Then check out our custom search tailored specifically for your child. We know what questions to ask to help you find the resources that work best for you. We list all the companies and resources you will ever need! Anything can be academic. Explore to discover more and create a custom saved search for your child or student.

Discover So Much More!

At Anything Academic we know you want the best resources and educational opportunities for your student or child. That is where our special search engine comes in! Search for exactly what you need: Learning style, Subject, Educational philosophy and more. We help you to find what works best for YOUR child to not just learn but to LOVE learning.

Start your search now!