Ten years sounds like such a long time. With this being our official tenth-year, ComputerGuy pointed it out to me that it’s also my official halfway point. With FixerGirl turning eight, that means I have just ten more years of this wonderful experiment left. Ten down, ten to go! Milestone!!
With that being said, I thought it would be fun to write down a few things I’ve learned along the way. I know there are veterans out there with many more years of this under their belts, so if I’ve missed anything, feel free to add it in the comments below! I believe that’s one of the best things about homeschooling… no matter how long I’ve been at it, I am always learning new and better ways!
Preschool & Kindergarten should be fun.
Children at this age learn through play. Don’t worry about flashcards, spelling words or lapbooks; those things can come in time. Now is the time to make it all about nature walks, and fingerpaints, and making animals out of bread dough before you bake them and gobble them up! Sensory play with shaving cream, count the stairs outside as you hop down each one, draw with colorful sidewalk chalk outside on a sunny day! Let’s let these kids enjoy their childhood while they are still young. You will be surprised at how quickly they learn when they aren’t “learning” at a desk.
Don’t try to recreate public school at home.
I would make the assumption that most of us have had a public schooled educational background. I do! One detriment to that is that we’ve got the “perfect” elementary classroom engrained in our minds from all those years of attending in those brightly colored rooms. You don’t need a flag or the pledge of allegiance recited every morning, you don’t need the kids to call you “Mrs. Lastname,” (just during schooltime of course, then they can call you Mom!) You don’t need the pretty calendars with the switchy numbers or the bulletin boards with bright characters. You don’t need a classroom theme. Heck, you don’t even need a classroom! Homeschool isn’t that pretty picture, and it doesn’t need to be. You can have a pretty schoolroom, just make sure that public schoolish expectations don’t come with it. “Away” school lacks the flexibility and creativity inherent to Homeschool– some of its biggest strengths.
Let your children lead.
What are their interests? What subjects are they passionate about? Follow that! Home education is about giving your students a lifelong love of learning. What better way than to allow them to delve deeply into those things that pique their interest the most?
Your kidlets have been gifted with God-granted talents and uniquenesses that no other kid has. Kids learn at their own speeds and have their own individual interests, abilities, and motivations. They will never be just like that “other kid”, and they shouldn’t ever have to be! Along these lines… don’t compare yourself as a teacher to other moms either. What works in one household will not necessarily work in others. One method of teaching, one curriculum, one activity is no better than any other, as long as you choose what is right for you and your kiddos and your homeschool.
There is no “behind.”
Don’t stress, Mama. It will all even out in the end. There is a school of thought in homeschooling circles that directly contradicts society’s “preschool as early as possible” mentality. It’s called “Better Late than Early.” It was one of the first homeschooling books I read back when I started homeschooling, and it was a real eye-opener for me.
Did you know that kids who were educationally neglected during their early-elementary years who were put into a normal classroom at a later age and then worked with and diligently tutored, were later tested and found to be intellectually and educationally on the same exact level as their same-age peers? It’s an extreme example, and I’m in no way advocating educational neglect.
My point is, the kids who were in school all those years, day in and day out, probably some of them even earning perfect attendance awards, were later indistinguishable educationally from those kids who got a later start. There are studies that even show that most kiddos aren’t developmentally ready to read, write or do math until at least age 8. Tell that to your local first-grade teacher! So no stress if your kiddo isn’t reading by 5, or multiplying by 9. It will come when they are developmentally ready.
Enjoy the flexibility!
Every homeschooler knows that the best time for vacations and field trips are during the regular “away-school’s” school year! Follow your own schedule, enjoy not having to be tied down to someone else’s! There’s nothing that says homeschoolers have to “homeschool” at home, either? Have a park-school day! Picnic out in the backyard on a sunny day and bring the school books! Take a road trip and hit some fascinating historical sites. What geology? Hit some caves, mines, or geologic features! Be creative! Unlike our moniker, homeschoolers are not tied to home for our educational adventures!
Explore the wide variety of educational opportunities available!
There are so many different options these days, so many classes, curriculums, books, online programs, MOOCS, recordings, enrichments, co-ops, etc. etc. etc. It’s wonderful! I can’t imagine homeschooling 20 years ago like those true 1980s Homeschooling “pioneers” who tweaked what obsolete public school curriculum they could get their hands on, or spent their days searching through paper card catalogs for books applicable to what they were teaching. We are so spoiled! Ha!
Learn your teaching style as well as your kid’s learning styles.
Don’t force what doesn’t come naturally. Use those resources available to you. Don’t try to recreate the wheel when there are literally hundreds of programs out there (many times free!)
Don’t listen to the nay-sayers.
Although homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds every year, it is still far from mainstream. Competitive Colleges across the nation actively recruit homeschoolers for their stellar academic reputations. Yet despite the fact that homeschoolers regularly outrank and outscore their publically schooled friends, there are still those in society who are not familiar with our techniques, methods, and successes. Don’t let those people drag you down. No one knows your child(ren) better than you. No one knows how much (or little!) socialization your child actually needs better than you. Only you know the educational opportunities and activities your kidlets will get the most out of. No one knows your child’s learning style, likes or dislikes, attention span, better than you. Let the naysayers talk. God has given you a mission, Homeschool Mama, one that He’s fully equipped you for. Don’t forget that!
I hope this list will help some maybe-new homeschooling mamas out there… there are so many things I could have added that we’ve learned in the past ten years of schooling these sweet kiddos! What are some things you’d add to the list?
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