Advice That Homeschooling Parents Need NowWhat do you wish someone had told you before you began homeschooling? What would you tell yourself now if you had the chance to go back and talk to that idealistic mama, just getting started?

There are so many things I wish I’d thought about, and so I’m passing some of them along to you.

Breaks are Critical

It is important—no, imperative—to take breaks in your homeschool. Whether you homeschool according to the local public school calendar or follow a more flexible or year-round schedule, you can’t work your kids every day. You’ll kill their love of learning. Incorporate physical exercise every day. Play hooky to run the the park on a mild fall day when you’ll have it to yourself. Take the kids out and treat them to ice cream for lunch every once in awhile.

You will all be better for it.

There is More to Learning Than Textbooks

Let go of the public school mindset. Kids learn all the time. They learn from movies, documentaries, television, magazines, books, museums, friends, travel, life experiences, and play. Build a learning-rich environment, and your kids will naturally pick up books and games that teach them skills and content. Best of all, they won’t even realize (or care) that they’re learning.

Get Out Into the Community

The socialization question is the most oft-told joke in the homeschooling community because there really are so many opportunities to socialize. But, sometimes, especially in the winter, it’s tempting to hunker down and cozy in. While the kids will probably be just fine socializing with you and their siblings for awhile, you need to talk with other adults who understand what being at home with kids all day is like. Get out and socialize, mama! It will be good for you.

Location, Location, Location…

Advice That Homeschooling Parents Need NowIt really isn’t necessary to have a dedicated homeschool room. Seriously. In the past we’ve used a basement room, converted a dining room, and are now spread out all over the house. Keep your supplies handy so you can do your work anywhere, but it’s okay if your kiddo likes to read in a tree or do math under the kitchen table. It’s one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling.

Integrate Subjects and the Arts

Imaginative play, arts, crafts, music appreciation, and so much more can be easily integrated into content area subjects like history and science to help you cut down on the things you have to teach. We just started an art journal for history and my kids are loving it. I read to them memory work, passages from history books, and novels, and they write down the memory phrases, timeline, and things they want to remember, and then sketch out a picture to go with it. Their journals are full of watercolors, colored pencils, charcoal sketches, and more. They’re gorgeous keepsakes, fun to create, and are helping them solidify their learning without having to take formal lessons on art techniques and writing endless answers to comprehension questions.

Delegate

Listen carefully to this one. You need to delegate the household responsibilities, mama. You simply cannot create amazing lessons, keep the house immaculate, cook every meal from scratch, and stay upright. You must teach your kids how to help you or enlist the help of other family and friends. Consider trading twice a month with a friend. Maybe you can take her kids and have a big science experiment, art, or play date while she stays home and cleans the house or prepares freezer meals. Then she’ll do the same for you.

Don’t try to do it all; you will burn out.

Put Heart First

There is absolutely nothing that matters more than your child’s heart. You have a unique opportunity to impact your kiddos and raise them to be strong, moral adults. You are with them more than anyone else will ever be. Try really hard not to put the schooling before the loving. These kids are yours. If there are behavior, attitude, or emotional issues, it’s your job to put aside the teacher hat, and just be a mom for awhile. The lessons will be there. I promise.

Taking the time needed to nurture your kids, whenever they need it most, is a gift that they’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Homeschooling is worth it. You may not always feel like it is in the heat of it, but if you trust the process, it will work out—and your family will be better for it.


About the Author

Colleen KesslerColleen is a former teacher of gifted children who hoped for nice, average kids. Since things never quite work out as planned, she now stays at home to homeschool her highly gifted kids, trying desperately to stay one step ahead of them while writing about their adventures {and messes} at Raising Lifelong Learners. You can find her avoiding housework by playing on the trampoline or going for hikes with her kids. 

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