“What curriculum do you use?”
“How can you manage it with so many kids?”
“I’m interested in homeschooling, but have no idea where to start.”
Questions like these have been a staple in conversations since I was a little girl. Back then, they were directed at my mother. Now, as I have shifted into the role of mother and teacher myself, they are once again discussed often. And, just as my mother before me, I’m happy to share my answers.
Since I started homeschooling my own children, I’ve noticed a trend in how homeschooling is approached. It often goes something like this:
Mom wanting to home school posting in social media group: “Hey! I’m interested in homeschooling, but I’m overwhelmed by the options. What curriculum do you use?”
Moms in home school group: “I love Charlotte Mason!” “You should look into classical conversations!” “Have you joined a co-op?” “Have you considered un-schooling?”
First Mom: “Thanks everyone! I’ll check into these.” (and is left more stressed and confused than when she began)
If there is one thing that I know about homeschooling is that it shouldn’t be stressful. That defeats the whole point, right? But more and more moms interested in the option are left daunted by the very act of starting, and I hate to see it.
Unconsciously, the initial questions were off. If you are interested in homeschooling, your very first question should be the following:
“When I picture myself homeschooling, what does that look like for myself and my home?”
I know it seems strange to put yourself first when considering homeschooling for your family. Shouldn’t the children and their educations take priority? Don’t they have specific needs and requirements?
But what about the children!?!!
Of course! And all that should most definitely be considered, but hear me out first, if you would.
Here are three reasons why I believe this is the best question with which to begin.
A picture of homeschooling in your head will immediately provoke a visceral reaction. If you picture yourself standing up in front of your kids lecture teaching three grades at once and you break out in hives, then that is not the right fit for you. If the idea of a room just for schooling sounds heavenly to you, then you’ve hit a good area to start. If viewing yourself as more of an educational manager and less of a teacher relieves pressure, that doesn’t mean that homeschooling won’t work for you and your family. Use that picture as a guide.
For example, I have no papers hanging on our kitchen walls or fridge and I loathe school craft projects. Both of these things completely stress me out. They may not for you, and that’s cool! But if those were an absolute requirement for homeschooling, I probably would have run out the door long ago. But they’re not, so I don’t. And my home remains visually stress free, which in turn, keeps mama on the sane side. Stick to your picture. It doesn’t have to match anyone else’s.
Once you settle on the right mental picture, it will automatically rule out certain curricula. There are so many options out there. Wonderful, fantastic options. But having so many options to choose from can be daunting and stressful. The way you picture yourself homeschooling will help to narrow those options down.
Say you like the idea of a structured approach at home, but electives with a group. Easy! Pick a curriculum that gives you easy structure, then join a co-op for the electives. Perhaps you want more free range and flexibility with schedules for your family so you can plan more excursions. There’s an option for that, and a local group to boot! Narrowing down the options by holding them up to your picture will far easier than considering each and every curriculum for their own merit (here’s the problem: they’re all good!).
If you love how you home school, your kids will love it. Children pick up the stress of their parents. Growing up, I noticed that my friends who hated being home schooled also had parents who were stressed by it. The ones with parents who were comfortable and enjoyed the process thrived. A couple of decades later, the same pattern rings true.
Yes, you will still want to work with each of your children’s strengths and interest. And yes, you will want to think about their needs and requirements. But I promise you this, if you find a way to home school that YOU love, all the rest of the work will be a joy.
And I guarantee, your kids will see that.
So if you’re considering homeschooling, take a deep breath. It’s okay. It’s not actually as difficult to get going as you may think. It can be done, and YOU, fellow parent in the trenches, can succeed in providing an exceptional–and wonderful–education for your children.
What other concerns or fears hold you back from homeschooling?