It’s been almost a year since we began our homeschooling journey, so naturally, we’re experts.
(whips hair over shoulder)
Er, not really.
If homeschooling has taught me anything, it’s taught me that I will never be an expert. I will never have it all “together” and I will never know what the “best” homeschooling method is. It’s also taught me a lot about myself, from my weakness in planning to my strength in patience. I’m definitely not a perfect parent, and I’ve learned to not only accept this fact, but to embrace it.
10 Things I learned from our FIRST year of Homeschooling
1. I’ve learned that learning evolves.
If you remember, at the beginning of the year we chose not to follow the traditional “homeschooling with curriculum” method and instead dove right into unschooling. This was really something we enjoyed and I highly recommend it for new homeschoolers! We had some amazing experiences (here & here) trying to learn naturally with everyday experiences. It really helped me discover what my kids’ passions were and more importantly, it helped us all remember that life is intrinsically fascinating!
My husband had a difficult time doing unschooling and nothing else. He loved the idea that most of our learning was happening through life experiences, but he also wanted to incorporate some tasks and assignments for the kids. The kids wanted to try it as well, so that’s what we did! We have since incorporated some structured time for math, science, history, music, & language arts. It’s still pretty relaxed and we don’t sit at the table for two hours pouring over curriculum books, so I feel it’s a good compromise on our previous unschooling method.
2. I’ve learned that having my kids home all day is awesome and not at all scary or overwhelming.
It literally seems crazy to me now that I used to be worried about having my kids home all day. I mean, they are my own kids, right? I birthed them and cared for them all day until I booted them off to Kindergarten, right? I have no idea why I was afraid of this because I am telling you, I LOVE having my kids with me all day, everyday. They are so fun to be around and they are so incredibly helpful, I just can’t imagine sending them off to school all day. While other parents were happily posting pictures of their child’s first day of school this year, I was crazy excited that I get to be with mine all day. They are truly amazing young people and I am so grateful to be able to spend each precious minute with them. Before long they will be grown up and I’m not going to waste this time in their lives!
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t have those “I’m gonna pull my hair out” moments, but they don’t happen often, and usually when they do, it just means we need a break from our life a bit. It’s during these times that we go out to a movie & lunch date, or drop everything and start some project like building some raised garden boxes.
(I’m not saying because I homeschool that you don’t love your children for sending them to school. It’s just that I love mine more. TOTALLY KIDDING. I am the LAST person to judge anybody for their family’s choices. Seriously, whether you send your kids to school or not, you’re amazing.)
3. I’ve learned that finding a homeschooling group that meshes with your family is GOLD.
I knew before we started homeschooling that finding a homeschooling group would be my weakness. I’m a homebody (in case you hadn’t noticed), and between the farm and this here ol’ blog, it keeps us busy. Sure, we have friends who attend public school, but I knew we really needed some fellow homeschoolers to attend events with and for my children to bond with on a deeper level. After a lot of searching, we finally found an amazing group of homeschoolers who we meet up with various events around town and even in some learning co-ops. Each family I’ve met has been amazing and we are really loving all of these new friends!
4. I’ve learned that there is an endless amount of free resources, all around us.
Seriously, the world is amazing and people are even more amazing-er (inside homeschooling joke right there). From online websites, to local events, from discounted days at local parks, zoos, rollerskating rinks, museums, and more, the world around you is just waiting for you to participate. So, how do you find out about all of these amazing events? See #3. Join a homeschooling group and you instantly are in the know.
5. I’ve learned that my kids don’t necessarily learn the same way I do.
Eesh. Wouldn’t life be easier if everybody acted and thought just like us? Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. Children come with their own personalities and definitely with their own learning styles. It took me a while to realize that teaching something in my learning style didn’t always translate to my kids’ learning style. It’s really not about who’s smart and who’s not, it’s just about finding the right key or learning style that fits. This book, The What Now of Learning Styles, has literally changed my life! It really opened my eyes to the different learning styles and how to implement various activities to help each child fully grasp the concept.
6. I’ve learned that learning can be SO simple & fun.
Unschooling taught us that learning can happen contantly and can be incredibily fun. We’ve practiced math facts in a Smeagol voice while driving in the car, discussed The Giver while waiting for our haircut appointment, and reenacted The Sugar Act of 1764 while playing with Legos.
We’ve also played the ukulele on rainy days and reviewed fractions while baking cookies.
I’ve come to the conclusion that while some learning does need to occur in a “sit-down, let’s go over this” method, a lot of it can also be covered or reviewed in everyday life.
7. I’ve learned that I am intelligent and fully capable to teach my own children.
As a homeschooling mom, you get this weird thing called “doubts”. Every so often, I’ll look at myself in the mirror and think, “What the heck do you think you’re doing, teaching those kids all by yourself?!” But usually, I’m pretty quick at smacking that woman across the face and getting back to reality.
I am fully capable to teach my own children, and man, that there’s a fact.
8. I’ve learned that learning happens CONSTANTLY, not just Monday-Friday from the hours of 9-3.
I’ve already hit on this a little bit, but I really want to point this out because in the beginning, I had the “turn on learning, turn off learning” mentality. It wasn’t too long before I realized that learning really does happen ALL. THE. TIME. On weekends, holidays, summers, evenings, you name it, we are learning. And it’s awesome.
9. I’ve learned that setting simple monthly & weekly goals is the key to long-term success.
I’m a planner, but hey man, I also don’t like anybody telling me what to do! As you can guess, I have a love/hate relationship with schedules. On one hand, they help me feel in control. On the other, I feel controlled. Still, I have found we are all happiest ’round here when we have a plan. We may not always stick to that plan, heck, we may sometimes take that plan and throw it out the window, but at least it’s there in case we need it and for when we desperately need to cross something off our list.
10. I’ve learned I’m not like everybody else, and that’s okay.
I am fascinated with other homeschooling families. I love to ask others’ how they stay organized, which curriculum or method they follow, and what they’re covering this year. The downside of this curiosity is the feeling of inadequacy in my homeschooling method or goals when I hear that “so n’ so” created a real life robot and traveled to California to compete in a competition. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be like everybody else. Instead, we can learn from others and then do what we feel is best.
Ahem, in conclusion
I’ve found that life is good, and we’re definitely happy with our choice to homeschool. They kids love it, I love it, and gosh golly, if that’s not what makes a happy homeschooling family, I don’t know what does:)