Over that last eleven years of homeschooling, I have had several opportunities to share my thoughts on what I would do differently if I could have a homeschool do-over. I think those types of articles are great and are meant as encouragement for new homeschool moms. In my early years as a homeschool mom, I would have loved to have had the insight of a veteran homeschooling mom.
There is a problem with those sort of posts, though. They don’t take into account the wisdom gained through doing things the way you did them in the first place. Perhaps more importantly, they often don’t take into account the seasons of a homeschooling mom’s life. So, while I think it’s great to share the things I would do differently, I also think I may have to start including some caveats.
So, for you homeschooling newbies, I want to say:
It’s okay to do school-at-home or use a boxed curriculum.
When we started homeschooling, I used a prepackaged unit study curriculum. In the interim years, I’ve run the gamut from writing my own unit studies to eclectic schooling to an all-in-one curriculum. The fact is, as much as I love the idea of a Charlotte Mason style homeschool, I think I’d have gone crazy that first year without the safety net of a prepackaged curriculum giving me some guidance.
It’s okay to have a highly structured homeschool while you find your way as a homeschooling parent.
It’s okay to have a highly structured homeschool throughout your entire homeschool years, if that works for your family.
It’s okay to unschool, to have a CM homeschool, to follow TJEd, to be eclectic, or whatever else.
My homeschooling style doesn’t have to be your homeschooling style. Don’t let the things I wish I’d done differently make you feel bad about what you’re doing now if it’s working for your family. Each family is different.
I’ve been guilty of having a bit of a prideful attitude with new homeschool moms when saying, “If I could go back and do it again…” in a tone that suggests I know something that they don’t and by the time they figure it out, it will be too late.
The fact is, I think there are things I’d do differently, but if I were once again new, unsure, overwhelmed and trying to figure it all out, I might just do things exactly the same way I did them all those years ago.
It’s okay to not have a beautiful, color-coded schedule.
I know that’s okay because even now I don’t have a beautiful, color-coded schedule. We’re definitely routine people, rather than schedule people.
That being said, a while back I shared a post somewhere on the web about having a successful homeschool day and how that started with getting up before the kids, having my workout, and having a routine. There is nothing untrue about that post. The only thing is, those things are possible in large part thanks to my current season of life.
My kids are all middle school and high school age. They’re night owls who sometimes go to bed later than I do, which is okay because I’m not having to give someone yet another glass of water, read bedtime stories, or make sure no one goes into the bathroom and plays in the toilet.
I’ve been babysitting my infant niece once a week. I love her and I’m happy to have her over, but it’s hard to get stuff done when she’s over. We manage to get school done, but it’s not the simple, straightforward affair it is the rest of the week. It makes me wonder how my sister accomplishes all she does. It makes me look with new admiration on moms who homeschool all the time with infants and toddlers.
When you’re swimming in chaos, sometimes the best you can do is get through the day. Getting most of the lesson plan boxes checked off, getting everyone fed, and keeping the preschooler from flushing the goldfish down the toilet is accomplishment enough. If I were in the trenches of those days, I doubt I would crawl out of bed for a workout or anything else until there was a child sitting on my stomach prying my eyelids apart with his little fingers.
It’s a season. If you’ve got littles, seasons with more predictable days and more independent kids are on the way. Don’t stress over all the things that are going undone in the season you’re in. You’re doing an amazing job, Mom!
It’s okay to long for bedtime.
“The days are long, but the years are short” is so very true. The idea of savoring those long, hard days is a noble sentiment that sounds great on a Hallmark card, but the fact is, those days can truly be hard. Viewing your child’s meltdowns as anopportunity to build character is equally noble-sounding – and often just as hard.
Yes, you should savor the moments because the years really do fly by. Yes, sometimes you need to take time to use those meltdowns to build character. But, Mom, you are not a failure if some days you find yourself hiding in the bathroom eating chocolate while you mentally calculate how many hours are left until bedtime because sometimes this homeschooling gig – this motherhood gig – is h-a-r-d.
So, when you hear one of us old-timers talking about what we’d do differently if we were in your shoes, take it with a grain of salt. Sift through to find the wisdom to be had there – then practice your best mad scientist laugh as you imagine us trying to get a workout done with a toddler clinging to our leg and the infant crying to be held while the preschooler looks menacingly at the goldfish.
What homeschooling season are you currently in? Is it one of the easier ones from which you could encourage a young mom or are you a mom needing some encouragement – and five minutes to go to the bathroom alone?