I have had many newbies ask me over the years, “So, how do you homeschool?”
I have to smile to myself, because once upon a time, it was me with those big doe eyes caught in the headlights look on my face! Those who contemplate homeschooling are daring to go against the “norm.” They worry that being weird isn’t worth it, or that they will totally mess up their children’s chances of being a functioning adult, let alone get into college if they choose to someday!
So, this got me to thinking about what I wish I had known when we first started homeschooling. What would I tell my optimistic & idealistic self to help prepare me and to change a few things along the way? To help relieve some of the stress? To empower myself?
Dear Newbie Homeschool Self,
This is your future Veteran Homeschool Self. I just wanted to send you a little note. Because we’ve done a lot right, and we’ve stressed over a lot of nothing. Just a few things…
- Enjoy your children. Abbey is a lovely young lady. The same girl who sat at the table for hours and hours and wouldn’t work on ONE math problem? She loves math, now. Yes, those words have actually left her mouth! With JOY! So, maybe not worry that she will never know how to add. She does, and so much more! And, Eli? The son who was given the IEP because he didn’t talk much as a toddler? Oh, he totally grows out of that. In fact, there are days where you will wonder why you ever worried. Because he has lots of stories to tell, and he loves telling them! Most times, very loudly!
- Read out loud more. Like, a lot more. Like, every day, read a book out loud. I am not even kidding. You will find one day that you can’t remember the last time you actually sat down and read a library book with your kids, and it will make you sad. Even if math doesn’t get done, or you know, the laundry, just read to them. It could even be a book you’ve read to them a thousand times! That adolescent daughter and 8 year old boy still want to hear their Mom read to them. For real. Don’t.Stop.Reading.To.Them. It builds a bond between you and you will never ever regret it.
- Seriously, let go of the timed schedule. And don’t feel guilty about it. Time is one of the biggest gifts of homeschooling. So, take down the dry erase schedule with all the clocks on it, already. Trust your gut with that one. You’ll find that it’s more about a routine or a rhythm. And, it’s super cool to be flexible. That will come in extra handy.
- Portfolios were definitely the way to go. The kids are so proud of their notebooks and love going through them and sharing them with family. They aren’t the most sophisticated scrapbooks, but they are theirs, and it makes them feel special. Not one single regret over all the papers we’ve saved. The stuff that didn’t make the portfolios? Um, yeah, you’re gonna need some boxes and become cold-hearted with
somemost of it.
- Thanksgiving Tree will become a bigger hit than you anticipated. You all will love it, and it changes the atmosphere of your home. Seriously, don’t ever stop that. Even if it looks a little different every year, a Thanksgiving Tree is amazing. Almost more than the Jesse Tree… Almost…
Last few words? Stop doubting yourself so much. Quiet words and laughter go a long way to soothing you and your kids… especially when it comes to math. Learning alongside your kiddos is another cool gift of homeschooling. Hug on them more. Cuddle them more. Speak life over them more. And, you will love coffee. I know you don’t believe me, but you will. Oh, you so will…
And, keep this letter. Add to it. Because Future Self gets caught up in the what needs to get done and needs to be reminded to just slow down, even still.
Your Future Self
I’m not sure that this would’ve made a huge difference. I had some amazing veteran homeschool moms who spoke of everything on this list into my life. I have just had to live through it and reassess what we’ve done every year. There are things I’d do differently, sure! But, for the most part, it’s been an amazing journey, and I wouldn’t change much. So glad we’re not done! Although, I would really appreciate a letter in the mail right now from my future self who has graduated their first homeschool kid! LOL Because, that’s looming on the horizon for us, and I am starting to feel like my old newbie self, all over again!