Dear new homeschool parent,
Breathe. You have got this. You have walking, talking, and potty training down, if you haven’t already you will have shoe tying and two-wheel riding down too. You didn’t need a teaching degree or credentials to do any of those things, you only needed to provide an environment for your children to learn, and they did!
Yes, some of our children didn’t walk or talk as soon as others, some of our children left us wondering if they would be in Velcro shoes wearing Pull-Ups on their wedding day, but eventually when the time was right for them, they learned.
Education is not a race. Your children are geniuses, each child being a genius in their own way.
You may be feeling overwhelmed, a sense of self-doubt, and unfortunately facing harsh criticisms from family and friends who never before concerned themselves with your child(ren)’s education until now.
I want to help you have peace of mind as you begin your homeschooling journey. Take another deep breath, and remember, you are the parent, and you want what is in your child’s best interest, you will not fail, because you love them.
Your first step is to de-school. Most homeschool parents attended government schools, there is a reason we no longer want our children to be a part of that education model, the biggest mistake many new homeschoolers make (yours truly included) is replicating school at home.
The best way to de-school is to start with interest-based unit studies that your children help pick out. Starting with interest-based unit studies will help you learn how your children learn, which will help you figure out how to tailor their education to fit their needs and interests. Another reason why I recommend de-schooling with unit studies is because they are very cost effective.
–Be sure to check out the Homeschool Resources tab and look at the subtab that says: Online Classes, Curriculum, Downloadables, Lapbooks, Unit Studies, and other Printables for recommended resources–
Children learn best when they are interested, that is why I strongly suggest allowing them to help you choose unit studies based on their interests.
You may find out that unit studies are the perfect fit your family and choose to use only unit studies (and a math curriculum) for the duration of your homeschooling journey, and that is OK, unit studies are adequate, and allow for a very customizable and personal educational experience.
Which brings us to the next most common cause of new homeschool parent anxiety: Math.
I have used a few different math curricula in the 10 years of our homeschool journey. When we started, I used box curriculum (trying to replicate my kids private school experience, and one of my early journey regrets). My then 3rd grade daughter used Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS), my then 1st grade son, LifePacs. My daughter absolutely hated SOS, about half-way through our second year I switched both children to Making Math Meaningful by Cornerstone, it helped math make sense to them, I saw great improvements… But Making Math Meaningful comes to a screeching halt after algebra. I needed to find a different curriculum.
I had heard about Life of Fred Math, but never really looked at it since I had a curriculum that worked. Since I had to change curriculum for my oldest, I went all in, and switched all of my children… Another homeschool regret: Not using Life of Fred from the beginning of our journey. Life of Fred is self-directed, and story based. From the beginning of the Series to the end (Calculus and Statistics), the story of 5-year-old college professor Fred Gauss (rhymes with “house”) is told, your children will learn math without even realizing it, as well as art history, language arts, geography, science, music, which are interwoven throughout the continuing story. The lessons are short, but are more than adequate, and designed to make children think.
I really encourage you to check out the Life of Fred books, I have recommended these books to new homeschoolers since before I even used them, and the feedback I have received is that parental math anxiety is no longer an issue after implementing Life of Fred math curriculum.
If self-directed is not for you, I know families who love Teaching Textbooks, and CTC Math, both use virtual tutors and provide access to actual online tutoring if necessary.
So, your first two hurdles have been cleared, and you have decided that unit studies are fun, but more of a supplement not a complete curriculum, which is perfectly fine. First check out Cathy Duffy Reviews, that will give you an idea of what is out there and give you an opportunity to compare curriculum.
There are sites like Educents, Rainbow Resources, and ChristianBook.com that have a large variety of different curricula to fit every need. I have my preferences when it comes to curricula, but every family and every child is different. There can be some trial and error with curriculum, the good news is there are curriculum resale sites on social media and other websites.
Don’t hesitate to find a homeschool group, and know that there are no silly questions, and everyone in a homeschool group began their journeys at different times and in different seasons, there is a wealth of support, encouragement, an advice to be found in homeschool groups, as well as an opportunity to learn about field trip and other group opportunities.
What about socialization and your nay-saying family and friends? Well…
I have four children, all have close friends in our neighborhood, when we began homeschooling I didn’t keep them hidden from the rest of the world. Contrary to the popular socialization myth, most homeschoolers are actually overbooked. Music lessons, Sports, Church activities, etc… can leave little time for “socialization”.
Let me put your, and your family and friends’ minds at ease. At a drumline clinic the other day some homeschool moms and I couldn’t help but notice that it was the kids on the homeschool drumline that were the first to ask questions (of their “celebrity” professional drumlime clinic instructors), and the first to volunteer to play with the professional “Celebrity” drumline). Maybe I am crazy, but that doesn’t sound overtly anti-social to me.
My 9 year old is taking figure skating lessons, and enjoys spending at much time at the skating rink as possible, a place where to her, there are no stranger. She quickly befriends anyone who comes onto the ice, young and old, to her age is not an obstacle nor a requirement for friendship. She thoroughly enjoys helping people who look like they are struggling on the ice and is usually the first to offer a hand up to anyone who falls.
My 17 year old has worked at a coffee shop for a year and a half and has been praised for her excellent customer service. She has taken classes at the local community college, and never had a problem socially interacting with her teachers or her classmates. Just this week she took herself down to the community college and signed herself up for her college classes, just like she did last year.
My 14 year had no problem whatsoever participating in the discussions in his online college class. He has never had an issue participating in “grown up” discussions and has a pretty extensive vocabulary. He attended a cyber camp at the community college with and had an amazing experience.
Homeschooling actually provides a more natural means of “socialization”, homeschoolers engage with people of all ages and backgrounds nearly daily, while children sitting at a desk in a classroom all day are spending most of their day with children their own age, and an adult telling them what they are supposed to know.
Seasoned homeschoolers do not call homeschooling a journey for nothing, there are twists and turns, peaks and valleys, forks in the road, detours, and dead ends. This journey isn’t always easy, but it is an adventure that you will never regret going on.
Now, take another deep breath, tell your family and friends that though you value their opinions, it is not appropriate or them to way in on this decision, and press on! You can do this; your children can do this. Welcome to the journey!