How to Survive Your First Year of Homeschooling
Deciding to homeschool was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make as a parent. I remember being so torn with emotions, worrying we were doing the right thing. I know now it was the best choice for my son. It's what worked for our family then and we just kept going. It's hard to believe, but we just graduated our oldest and he's off to college! My youngest is heading into 7th grade this year, and we're busy putting off the start of school as long as we can. All summer I've been cleaning out old notebooks, curriculum, and all sorts of homeschool clutter that reminds me of our first years on this journey.
It's been almost ten years since then, but our first year of homeschooling will forever remain fresh in my memory bank. Luckily, my son doesn't remember much because it was a mess!
It was wonderful and awful all at the same time. We transitioned from public school to homeschool and there were so many unexpected things we had to adjust to as a family. It took some time to find our way.
Is this your first year homeschooling?
Are you wondering what you got yourself into? It's going to be OK! Here are a few practical ways to survive your first year of homeschooling!
#1 Let go of insecurities!
This is numero uno for a reason! If you can do this, then the rest of your year will be so much easier. When friends and family find out you're making the decision to homeschool, you can bet that you're going to get mixed reactions. People will offer their (well meaning) unsolicited advice and opinions on just about everything. You have to teach yourself to have faith in your choice of education and not care what others think.
#2 Let go of your own expectations.
The reality of homeschool is SO much different than what you envisioned when you signed up for this job. Things you thought your kids would love will cause meltdowns at the dining room table. All those pictures of happy kids enjoying hands-on learning? Forget about it! As much as your heart is in this, your kids WILL annoy you, and you WILL get tired of being with them.
Just remember that you're going to have bad days, but you will always recover. Don't set yourself up for disappointment. Especially, if you're transitioning from public school to homeschool. Your family will need time to adjust.
#3 Remember your heart for homeschool.
Now that #1 and #2 are out of the way, you can regroup, be a big girl, and take a deep breath! It's time to remember why you signed up for this task in the first place. Whatever your reason for homeschooling, I want you to write it down in no more than three sentences. For example, when I began homeschooling, I would have written this:
"I want to build my son's confidence back up and help him find his smile again. I want to give him time to mend from many of the trials we faced at public school, and I want him to enjoy learning again."
Got it? Go ahead and write down your homeschool mission right now.
Of course, I wanted to have a successful year, be a good teacher, make sure I covered enough...blah, blah, blah. But, what really mattered to me was the two sentences I shared above. If nothing else was accomplished in that first year but a smile on my kid's face, I would have been happy!
You have to remember why you made the decision to homeschool in the first place, and you will need to remind yourself daily. Everything else you do should fall into place around that mission. Don't forget what it is, and don't compare your mission field to someone else's.
#4 Expect trial and error.
Some things you try won't work and you'll have to come up with a plan B, C, and sometimes...Z. Perhaps the curriculum you thought was going to be fantastic isn't a good fit for your child, or the homeschool group you recently joined isn't really working out? That's OK!
Don't stay committed to something that isn't working. I'm not telling you to be scattered brained and do a hundred different things without giving it a realistic trial period, but some things just don't work. There are times when you're better off trying something new.
#5 Expect interruptions!
Here's the thing with homeschooling...you're home!
There will be interruptions. The house will need to be cleaned, dinner will need to be cooked, and doctor offices will need to be visited.
When I envisioned homeschooling I didn't really consider all the life that would be happening around it. Be able to regroup without letting distractions get you down. You can always pick up where you left off!
#6 Remember you can't do it all.
You will be overwhelmed with the abundance of curriculum, books, activities, resources, printables, and everything that's out there for homeschooling families! I'm just going to tell you right now, it.is.crazy. Don't go crazy buying a ton of stuff, joining every group, and getting in over your head.
Take it slow, stay focused on #3, and really ask yourself if what you're buying/signing up for will benefit your goals for the year. There's always next year. You just can't do it all in one year! Overstimulated kids are no fun. Burned out moms are awful. In some cases, the change in routine (if you're transitioning) is enough to stomach for everyone.
#7 Take care of yourself.
Do not feel guilty about carving out time for yourself. Here me on this one...you will need a break.
You need to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually. Unfortunately, I know all too well, nobody likes a miserable homeschool mom and burn-out comes quickly! This is a never-ending, 24/7 job. It's hard.
Indulge in that pedicure! Take a walk, close your door and read a book, go see a movie for people over the age of 12...
Exercise, get enough sleep, drink water. You know what your body and mind need. Don't deprive yourself.
You got this, mama!
Have you been homeschooling for some time? Remember your first year?
What are your first-year homeschool survival tips?