We didn't always homeschool. My oldest actually went to public school through fourth grade. After many years of watching our child struggle in the public school setting, we decided to give homeschooling a try.
I knew others moms that homeschooled their kids and while I had no idea how I was going to do it, I knew it was possible.
Our first year of homeschooling was a hodge-podge of trial and error beginning with an online public school that was just not a good fit. I remember how timid and insecure I was about every decision I had to make. There was just so much information. So many curriculum choices and oh my goodness how do you pick the right one?
I did know one thing in the beginning. Without Play-Doh, I would not survive the first year of homeschooling!
As my oldest and I scrambled to find our way, my youngest spent a full school year exploring Play-Doh. Ok, maybe there were some numbers and letters mixed in somewhere, but mostly? Play-Doh.
Starting off on this journey isn't easy!
There are so many things I look back at and wish I had known then what I know now.
Here's my advice for the new homeschooling mom!
A veteran homeschooling mom once told me, "Give yourself time to de-school."
I didn't really get what she meant until I actually felt the process of "de-schooling" in my own life.
If you're like me and you've taken your child out of the mainstream system after years of participating in it, you need time to de-school.
It can be hard to let go of some of the ideas and principles you thought were important to you. My husband and I both grew up in public school and we had spent five years as parents in the system. It was our normal. It was all we knew.
I remember being so worried about testing. I felt pressured to measure our first year with scores and scales. I worried that I was providing my son with everything he would get in 5th grade.
I mean, if we didn't take the state standardized test how in the world would I know if I my son got what he needed? How else would I be able to show that we made it? How else would I prove to the naysayers that I could do it?
I needed a test to measure our success. Testing was my normal.
I signed the poor kid up for the test and sent him off to take it at the local school and he did great, but I realized how silly the whole thing had been. It took me staring my own pride in the face to realize that I didn't give a crap about that test.
I was more proud that he had the courage to go to an unfamiliar classroom everyday for three days than I was with his scores.
I was ashamed of my prideful thinking, and I realized testing was one of the many things I needed to let go of.
We've evaluated our children in all sorts of ways since, and have even taken other tests, but I had to "de-school" to realize that while tests might be important, they can never measure what really matters. After five years of homeschooling, I've let go of that mentality and so many others that I clung to in the beginning.
So, give yourself time to de-school.
Don't let the pressures and routine of a system you no longer need to answer to dictate how you teach your children.
It's OK to break away even when the people in your life might not get it.
Don't let the fear of what others think sway your choices.
Embrace change and don't be afraid to make decisions that go against the norm.
You have the freedom to teach and learn in any way you want.