Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Advice for New Homeschoolers Part 1

As my middle child begins college and empty-nest syndrome goes up a notch, I’m painfully reminded of the four short years I have left of this adventure known as homeschooling. As I look at moms just starting out on this journey it seems like only yesterday my three youngsters were underfoot, and my life was disorganized chaos trying to educate my most precious treasures. I recognize that panicked look in new homeschooling moms’ eyes and I have a few things I want to say to them, things I’ve divided into two lists: “Looking back on 14 years of homeschooling I’m glad I ….” And “I wish I had…..”

Looking back on 14 years of homeschooling I’m glad I….

  • Made a list of reasons why I homeschool. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God was calling us to this task when our oldest was about to begin second grade. However, I knew there would be days I’d question the sanity of obedience and would be glad for those reminders that first year. I was right.

  • Read aloud, a lot! I read aloud to all three children from the time they were tiny until….well, I haven’t really stopped. Books are gateways to other places, times, and ideas. Traveling there with your children is one of life’s greatest joys and a way to painlessly learn about all sorts of things. Many of our “adventures” were read by Cassie as I sewed and Candace colored or played with her cat.

  • Tried different curriculums. There are a plethora of curriculum choices and educational ideas out there. While the choices can be overwhelming, they are also freeing. One child likes textbooks and workbooks. Another likes researching interesting topics. One likes Saxon Math while another despises it. The beauty of home education is finding what fits each child and you. The possibilities are endless.

  • Discovered notebooking and copywork. This will also go under the “I wish I had…” section. I wish I had discovered notebooking and copywork sooner, but Cindy Rushton, the notebook queen, was a young homeschool mom herself at the time I was beginning, so it wasn’t available when I first started. (Actually, I didn’t even have internet that first year!) But I eventually did discover these concepts and found them to be effective and stress relieving. These are especially great techniques for those early years. (Check out

  • Realized all kids don’t have to be able to read by age 5. Everyone has their own gifts, talents, and abilities. Just because they haven’t mastered certain skills by certain ages doesn’t mean they won’t. I figure it’s ok if a 20 year old can only read at an 18 year old level.

  • Found a support group. This was vital to my survival. There were a few years in our life journey when we weren’t involved with other like-minded educators. It was tough! Even after 14 years I need the encouragement, friendship, and new ideas a homeschool support group gives.

  • Let the tadpoles take over our inflatable swimming pool. We had baby frogs everywhere that summer! I just don’t believe a traditional classroom could match the excitement and learning that came from checking on hundreds of tadpoles and watching their development every day for weeks

  • Realized somethings are more important than “Book Learning”. Some of those things include adventures with grandparents, nature walks, taking pictures of butterflies and tadpoles, helping those in need, getting along with siblings, balancing a checkbook, holding down a job, and helping around the house.

  • Let Kyle bounce a ball while spelling words and Candace learn phonics while swinging. In other words, I’m glad I realized that learning doesn’t have to take place in a desk in a school room. A public school teacher can’t allow 25 students to bounce each letter of their words, but you can.

  • Let the kids keep caterpillars of all kinds and watched them hatch out.

  • Let Candace help me in the kitchen. In the very, very beginning she wasn’t much “help”. But she was a good companion and is now great in the kitchen. We have lots of fun and she’s learned a lot about real-life math.

  • Stuck with it and didn’t give up. It has been trying and difficult at times. We’ve had years when we accomplished much and years when we barely scraped by. There have been days I felt desperate for “me” time and now there are days I tear up at the thought of not doing this anymore. But I’ve never, never, never regretted this decision to not only teach, but nurture my children and rediscover the wonders of life and nature with them.

    I'll post "I Wish I Had" soon.

    Be blessed!

    Julie said...

    Drewe Llyn! I admire you for your 14 years and I know what you have learned will be passed on to help other Moms just beginning.
    I pray that God especially inspire and annoint with wisdom all home-schooling moms and may they have an extraordinary year !!!
    My 'word verification' is EXTRA so I'll add that... an EXTRA extraordinary year! smile

    Elysa said...

    Ooh, this is good! I'm going to post it at facebook and send it to a new homeschool mom I just spoke with.


    Sun-Kissed Scholars said...

    Wish I could hug you over the internet!!
    We've been homeschooling for 5 years, but I still feel like I'm learning. With a 4th grader, 2nd grader, kindergartner and preschooler, life is fantastic but challenging. They are all so different. And I teeter between being scared that I'm not doing enough and then worried that I'm pushing too hard.
    I want to enjoy every minute, and also equip them to the best of my ability.
    I'm going to print this!!

    Sun-Kissed Scholars said...

    Btw, I jumped from Just Pure Lovely. :-) She is a gem for posting your links.