We have been homeschooling for a few years now and I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way! Homeschooling is a journey that has taught me so much about myself and my daughter. If you’re just beginning your own homeschool journey, I’d like to share with you some of the important lessons I have learned along the way.
When we began homeschooling, I had a lot of ideas about what it should look like, what was important, and what we needed to have to teach our child at home effectively. Along the way I’ve learned a lot! I’ve come to understand we don’t need tons of curriculum and we don’t have to do everything. Below are 10 important homeschool lessons I have learned.
We can do school whenever we want
School doesn’t have to happen Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. It’s a challenging concept to wrap your head around when you come from an environment where most people attend public school. However, as homeschoolers, we can school whenever we want. We have the whole year! If you think about it, it’s wonderful news.
Another important thing I’ve learned is that our school day doesn’t need to last 6 hours or however long the public school day lasts. We can actually accomplish the same amount of learning in a quarter of the time.
I don’t have to do everything
I’m a recovering type A person. I like to plan, make lists, and I like to check those lists off. However, I have learned that just because I write something down doesn’t mean it needs to get done. It’s ok if we don’t get to everything. In fact, it’s often better if we don’t check off every single box on my list. It’s also ok if we do something in a different way than I originally planned.
I’ve learned to plan from behind. That means I only write down the bare minimum in my planning notebook. Then, I write down things we do afterwards. Doing this keeps me from being tempted to just check boxes.
I’ve also learned to really love erasable pens. That little tool makes it easy for me to change my mind, change our lesson plans, and adapt to where we are that day and what we need or don’t need.
You don’t need curriculum or a co-op to homeschool
I know what you’re thinking. When I started homeschooling, I thought we needed a curriculum for every subject, for everything I wanted to teach. I also thought that being part of a co-op was a requirement fro homeschool families. Along the way I’ve learned that I can teach with books and games and be just fine.
We did try a co-op in the beginning and it was a fun experience, but at the end of the day we realized it wasn’t a good fit for our family. Co-ops can take away a big part of your day and be a huge investment (both a financial and time investment). You’ll need to really think about whether or not it’s a good choice for your family. If it’s not, don’t feel like you are required to be in a co-op.
I don’t need ALL THE THINGS
I like things. In fact, I love things! But I’ve learned we don’t need all of it. During our first two years of homeschooling, I remember going to all the back to school sales and stocking up on large quantities of crayons, markers, and spiral notebooks. I bought those workbooks in the Target dollar spot every time!
Then, I realized we don’t need 10 boxes of crayons. The dollar workbooks are always the same, every year. The just change the cover. I have realized that if it’s not something I’m going to use right way, it’s more beneficial for me to wait and not purchase those items just because they’re on sale.
“Just Because” days are OK
I have learned that it’s ok to take a day off from school. We don’t even need a real reason. Any time we need a day, we can do that. It was a difficult lesson for me to learn since I’m definitely a type A person, but it has been a very important one. We call them “just because” days.
Teach the child in front of you
When you begin your homeschooling journey, you’re probably going to ask veteran homeschooling moms about the curriculum choices they have made for their families. You might read reviews and find curriculum that the experts love. That’s all normal. However, you have to remember that doesn’t mean that curriculum will work well for your kids.
I have had to learn to teach the child in front of me. I have to think about what kind of learner my child is and do what works for her if I want this to work. That also means not buying curriculum just because I like it, if it won’t work for her. For example, I’m a visual learner, but my daughter is an auditory learner. I have to think about the way she learns and buy curriculum that will work best for her.
Gaps are inevitable
I have a whole video about gaps in education, but the simple truth is that gaps are inevitable. Everyone has gaps in their education. There will be something you fail to teach them, something they just don’t learn, or something your child forgets. You have to be ok with those gaps.
Think about which gaps you’ll be ok with and which ones you aren’t ok with. Then, focus on making sure they don’t have gaps you’re not ok with. For us, the gap I wasn’t ok with was a gap in our relationship. So, my goal is to protect our relationship no matter what. Figure out which gaps you’re ok with and work from there.
There is no wrong way to homeschool
Don’t get it in your head that you must teach a certain way or keep a certain schedule. I have learned there is no wrong way to homeschool. You just have to do what works for your family. For example, I’m not a morning person so we don’t do school early in the mornings.
Think about your family’s schedule and personalities and then do what works best for you. School on Monday, Wednesday, Friday works best? Do that. No school on Fridays works best? Do that. Only teaching in the evenings is the best schedule for your family? Do that. The only wrong way to homeschool is the way that doesn’t work for your family.
Be inspired, not discouraged
I love to look at what other homeschooling families are doing. However, I have had to learn to be inspired by these other homeschools, not discouraged. It can be easy to see what other families are doing in their homeschool and feel a little jealous. It can start to make you question what you’re doing in your own homeschool. Just remember, comparison is the thief of joy.
We all look to others and are curious about what they are doing in their homeschools. However, we have to remember that our individual homeschool is unique. I remind myself that I can be happy for others and what works for them and even inspired by their homeschool, but not discouraged or comparing my own homeschool to theirs. It can take time to learn this lesson, but it’s important.
Loosen up and enjoy the ride
The final lesson I have learned about homeschooling is probably the absolute hardest for me to learn. At the end of the day, I don’t want to look back on our homeschooling journey and only have memories of us sitting at a table doing boring things or days that end in frustration and tears. I want my homeschooling memories to be happy ones. So, I’ve had to learn to loosen up and enjoy the ride.
I really hope you’re enjoying your homeschooling journey this year. Share the lessons you have learned since you began your homeschooling journey in the comments, so I can learn from you too.