I’m entering my fourth year of homeschooling, which doesn’t make me an expert, but my mistakes are fresh.
I brought my older daughter home in second grade, and my younger daughter home in first grade. My daughters are very different, and that includes their learning styles and levels of advancement. This leads me to my first tip.
Don’t compare your children – – not to each other, and not to other kids.
It’s hard enough that my little one is a strong-willed child, but even worse I was giving her work that wasn’t age appropriate. At the start of first grade, I handed her a short chapter book (I mean, it is short you know) and told her to read two chapters and write a summary. I even allowed her to draw a picture of what she was going to write first, for heaven’s sake! I was being generous, is what I was thinking.
She cried, I got angry and accused her of being stubborn. What an attitude! Humph!
So I tell this to my sister, the elementry school teacher, and she informs me she and her other teacher friends sat around and laughed, and laughed, and laughed at me expecting this of her.
My older daughter is ridiculous in language arts, and therefore I had no basis for reality. My youngest is very bright, a sight reader, and above average in language arts, but I was comparing her to my older daughter. I just didn’t know.
Make sure you don’t impose the abilities of other children on your child. And just because one child doesn’t catch on as quickly, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as capable in grasping and applying concepts and information. Is your child not at the same level as others? Don’t stuff them in a box! Maybe it takes them longer to grasp a concept. Our family does Classical Conversations, which stresses mastery before moving on. Also, maybe you aren’t teaching them in a way that makes sense to them. I think parents need to be willing to accept ownership that it might be our teaching technique or curriculum. Which leads in perfectly to the next point, which is . . .
Don’t be afraid to change your curriculum in the middle of the year, or at any point.
One of the many advantages of homeschooling is, we get to craft a curriculum which fits our individual children! Each of your children are a unique person, and God has gifted them all in different ways. Please don’t frustrate your child, and yourself, by being stubborn and dag nab it, finishing that book even if it kills you.
We started out with Singapore Math, of which I am a fan. However, there wasn’t enough repetition for my kids, so we switched to Spectrum, which also didn’t work. I guess it’s a supplemental, and not a curriculum. Who knew? (My poor kids.) We are doing Horizons, which fits like a glove.
Pray for your homeschool
I’m not trying to scare you, but homeschooling is hard. It’s a time commitment, can be an emotional drain, and a confidence stealer. With all I’m teaching my kids, I’m pretty sure I should go ahead and package up my college degree and send it back to my university, along with a “what were you thinking giving me this” note.
It’s an incredible responsibility to ensure your child is ready for college one day. You should pray every day that God will give you wisdom, patience, and ability to teach your children. You should also pray that God inspires your children to being open to learning, and to bless their scholastic abilities. You have the opportunity to petition the Creator of the Universe to bless your little homeschool! Surely if he can put the sun and moon it their perfect places, he can bless your school. Matthew 7:7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” When you pray for their salvation each day (which I hope you are doing!), also pray for your school.
“Doing school” doesn’t have to involve a book.
One of the biggest hurdles new homeschool moms must overcome is, thinking you aren’t “doing school” if you go on a field trip or another learning excursion. Don’t get me wrong, I perfectly understand the need to get in the math, grammar, writing, etc . . . but don’t overlook the extraordinary experience of the field trip. For one, exposing your children to a wide variety of people, companies, careers, and places, gets the wheels turning. We have taken field trips to a brick making company, a rock quarry, a bakery, and a water treatment plant to name a few. They take science classes at the museum, nature classes, and pottery. I can’t even begin to list all our field trips and classes. My kids are learning how the world works by seeing our community close up. And you never know what is going to stick with them, and influence their future. With all of this out-of-the-home experience, it’s a wonder they are unsocialized, you know because they are homeschooled. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist! If you are a new homeschooler just wait – – you will get the joke soon enough!)
Join a co-op or homeschool activity group
We are going into our second year of Classical Conversations, which a model of Christian classical education. Lots of memorization of history facts, heavy writing and grammar, science experiments, and much more. We meet with our group for an intense 9-3 day once a week, and on various days do service projects and field trips. We also belong to a homeschool activity group, which involves us in holiday parties, park days, and even more field trips! Joining these groups has not only introduced my children to friends, enriched their education, but just as important, I have made friends!
The friends I’ve made in these circles not only encourage me spiritually, but are a wonderful resource for our homeschool. I learn so much from mother moms – – they truly are my greatest asset. Once a year we get together without the kids and bring different curriculum and ideas to share. We talk about learning and teaching styles, and have fun just chatting. And when one of us is having a hard homeschool day, we have someone to lean on. We enrich each other in so many ways. Do not miss out on the blessing of a co-op and/or activity group!
One reason I chose to be in an educational co-op was to give me structure and accountability. I have the tendency to plan to do one thing, but — oh look, something shiny! I lose focus. With Classical Conversations, we have papers due, and since all the other kids have memorized the memory work, that’s good pressure for us to be on top of things! I also think my kids like being in a classroom setting once a week. The great thing about homeschooling, is you can find what fits your family, keeping in mind it must fit both parent and child.
If you are a new homeschool mom, show yourself, and your kids, lots of grace and have fun learning together! It really is the best decision we have ever made. If you have any questions, please post on this thread, or on Preserved Home’s Facebook page. Happy homeschooling!