Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Encouragement For New Homeschoolers

I can still vividly recall when we finally made the decision to homeschool. Two years of thought and prayer had brought us to this decision. I had visions  of how wonderful our days were going to be. They were going to be perfect, school was going to go smoothly, my children were going to be obedient and studious. I bent everyone's ear I came into contact with over the merits of homeschooling. I wanted everyone to be as thrilled and excited about our choice as we were.

I planned and poured over books, looked at websites and went to our first homeschool convention. Oh the smell of all those books was intoxicating let me tell you! I felt I had joined the ranks of homeschoolers and having a nursing baby on my hip made it even more perfect. I visited vendor booth after vendor booth and even though a tad overwhelmed , okay a lot overwhelmed, I weighed our choices of curriculum and placed the orders. I ended up pretty much going with what we had decided on. I was sure I was ready to meet the challenge.

A few months later we left for vacation while local children began school that year. We enjoyed a two week vacation to California and then it was back home to start our new adventure. Monday morning dawned and I faced the day with expectation. It was all down hill with in the first few hours. I kept struggling to juggle time between the children. I heard over and over how they didn't have to do this or that in public school. I kept an eye on the clock thinking we would never finish the day much less the year! It was frustrating to say the least. I knew I couldn't do things this way. It was either do something else and change gears or throw in the towel and since I'm no quitter I changed gears.

I told the children school was going to be delayed for a few days then I placed an order for some unit studies. When they came in a few days we began again and things were much smoother. Not perfect, but smoother. At that point I still had to learn  we could homeschool, but trying to do school at home was a whole different ball of wax. Even with unit studies I still had to learn that. Seemed like there was always something new to learn that first year. Even into the second and third year I was learning and I've never stopped, but the  definite height of the learning curve was during those first years.

So for new homeschoolers let me encourage you if you feel like throwing in the towel after the first day or week, it does get better. Also the sooner you come to realize homeschooling is not the same as school at home you will probably find things begin to adjust. Public school methods don't always work  in the home setting, but they can be adapted and learning to adapt is a huge help. If you don't get everything done you have planned for the day remember tomorrow is another day. If you need to finish something you can work it in to your schedule over the rest of the week. Trying to cram it into the next days schedule will most likely cause overload and make you start to feel overwhelmed.

Plan breaks. I can't say enough about this. I failed to do this the first few years and boy did I feel burned out by January. When I failed to plan a few  breaks through out the year I feel our homeschool suffered. Don't be afraid to be spontaneous. If you have a chance for an outing or a field trip with your children that wasn't planned go for it. You'll never regret time spent with them.

If this is your first year to homeschool and things haven't been going like you thought they would give yourself some slack and time to learn what works best for your children in your homeschool. Make your first year fun and enjoyable. Do fun things, share time together then next year follow your schedule after you adjust to being a homeschool mom or dad. One reason I say this is because I read somewhere that for every year your child was in public school it takes a year for them to adjust to being homeschooled and learning this way. For us that was very true! One of our children began homeschooling in his freshman year of highschool! So imagine a whole year of adjustment! At first I felt it would be a year wasted, but it was so worth not pushing the adjustment and it turned out to be the best decision. If this is your first year to homeschool and your children have never been to public school then the adjustment period is way less for you. For our two daughters who have never been educated any other way than at home, learning has always been a way of life.

Hopefully this post will encourage those who are homeschooling for the first time and finding things a bit difficult. It does get better as you learn what works and what doesn't for your child or children. As you gain experience your confidence will increase and those experiences that make you feel like throwing in the towel now will fade. One day you'll look back and say, I am so glad we chose this journey.

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