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What to Expect When You’re Homeschooling

What to Expect When You're Homeschooling - Columbia SC Moms BlogIt’s back-to-school time, which for me, brings up all sorts of nostalgia and memories of new crayons, new lunchboxes, new clothes, new everything.

Like most people in the United States, I grew up attending school. You probably did, too, either public or private. Homeschooling has gained momentum as a movement in the last twenty years, but when most of us who are now parents were kids, it was still in its infancy. Homeschoolers were still seen as “that family,” a bit on the edge, if not off the edge altogether, and in some states it wasn’t even legal (it is now, don’t worry).

That is me. A public school-educated girl now grown up and homeschooling my children. Which meant that our first year, even though I had friends and families who homeschooled, I really had no idea what to expect. You may not either. So if you are new to homeschooling this year, let me give you an idea of what’s coming.

Expect to cry.

You, your kids, your spouse. Tears of frustration, but also tears of joy. Homeschooling is a whole family, whole self endeavor, and it changes you and challenges you like nothing else. Hence the tears.

Expect to doubt yourself.

You will. You will wonder if you are really qualified to teach your own children (you are), if your children will ever learn anything (they will), and what the neighbors think when your kids are outside playing at 10:00 in the morning (who cares?). It’s normal, and doubting yourself does not mean you can’t do this.

Expect to be amazed.

At what you child will learn, at how it feels to be there for the “aha!” moments, at how quickly you can finish lessons and have time for other activities, at how much you are learning at the same time you are teaching your child. At how bright the stars actually are when you look at them for a science lesson. At how much history you learned but forgot. At how smart you actually are, yes, even in math.

Expect to be tired.

Being with your kids all day every day takes a ton of energy, plus you are just doing a whole lot of thinking, and figuring out new ways to keep your child engaged and to help him understand why two and two are four, all the time. Then there are the field trips and co-ops and classes and playdates and…  It’s SO easy to overdo it the first year and enroll your kids in a thousand activities because hey, we are homeschooling, which takes less time, so we can do these other awesome activities. If you aren’t careful, you may find that instead of homeschooling, you are on-the-go-schooling – which is fine for some families’ personalities, but for a lot of us, it is just too much. We need down time, and overscheduling is not the way to get it.

Expect to wish you could put your kids on the bus.

Because there will be days when you are tired of it and you need a break (especially in February). When you wish you had never signed up for this whole adventure. When that yellow school bus looks awfully nice and you would love to have a quiet house for the day. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you made a bad decision, it just means you need a break.

Expect to think everyone should try homeschooling.

Because on the best days, it just makes so much sense. You will want to share the joy you are finding in this new adventure with everyone and you may wonder why more people do not homeschool their children. That’s okay, too! (Just don’t overwhelm your friends with all your reasons why they should pull junior out of school, like, yesterday. If homeschooling is for them, they will catch on to your excitement on their own, and if it isn’t, you will just bug them.)

Expect to change your mind.

About your schedule, your curriculum, your reasons for homeschooling, the co-op you signed up for, the other activities you thought you would have time for. The first year of homeschooling, especially, is a time of trying things out and seeing what works. Don’t think that you have to finish a math book just because it seemed good at the homeschooling convention you went to this summer. You can put it aside and do something else.

Expect to grow.

As a parent, as a spouse, as a scholar, as a teacher, as a person, as a family. The call/drive/desire/whatever to homeschool is about your child, of course, but it is also about you. You will not be the same person in May that you are now. Embrace that and wait expectantly for it! And then this time next year, you will be the one telling the homeschooling newbie what to expect!

Are you a seasoned homeschooling parent? What would you add to this list??

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2 Responses to What to Expect When You’re Homeschooling

  1. Jane Long August 18, 2016 at 10:50 pm #

    Hi Kristi!

    Your wrote an awesome article! I was nodding my head to all of your expectation paragraphs 🙂 It’s hard to think of another expectation from my experience of 2 years of homeschooling….hmm, maybe expect to need support/ stay accountable with others? For me, the encouragement and support from my husband and other homeschooling moms were essential to me staying committed and motivated. I would also add expect to have a reward system for your children so that they stay committed to finishing their school work and not hiding under the table while I go put in a load of laundry (I’m speaking from experience with my willful child!) We used incentives like earning tokens/stickers for completing assignments and my kids could pick out a special trip to a recreational amusement place or a book or craft or toy at the store for working hard during the week. We even used iTunes to download a favorite song on Mp3 for $1.29 just so my kids would be pumped to finish their work! Some of you may disagree but it has been an uphill battles some days to motivate my smart but lazy child to get the work done…homeschooling is a test in patience and grace, in character building more than I ever imagined!

  2. Angela Sneed August 19, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    You covered a lot of the bases with your article. This is year 5 for me and my 10 and 13 year olds. A few things I would add to your list are:

    1 Go to the library a lot. Get them intetested in books and they will be able to explore all types of new and interesting things. Richland library allows 12 year olds to volunteer so the rest of the family is there weekly. (Be sure to track your books we partially fund the library with overdue book fines). Science and History don’t have to come from a textbook.

    2. You will find that your kids are friends to each other. Mine are very Little House on the Prarieish (word?). Sure they argue but they collaborate on all sorts of things, talk about everything, make stop motion videos together and PLAY. You will find your kids play way past their schooled peers.

    3. With time to just be, my kids have created a great deal, be it art, poetry, short stories, music and short films. Creativity and imagination have time to flourish, encourage this and take your break during their creative quiet time.

    Last but not least, never compare yourself with others. I make up what curriculum I want to use based on my kids. One size does not fit all and you will learn what motivates your children. You will also get the added benefit of actually having kids who talk to you and want to be with you because that is normal not weird. Some days will be hell others heaven but all will average out to simply lovely if this is your families’ calling.

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