There is, however, a homeschool schedule that works with your life, a homeschool curriculum that works with your child, and a homeschool day that is the best you can provide. Homeschooling provides awesome flexibility. It’s unique to your family and your life. So, cut yourself some slack and start slow. Focus on one or two subjects, and slowly…and I mean slowly…introduce others. As you become more comfortable, you will become more efficient at tailoring your curriculum and schedule. When you become more comfortable and confident, you add more subjects.
Learning Wasn’t Fun
I took the fun out of learning! At some point, I allowed the excitement of starting a homeschool negatively affect the experience. I aimed for perfection in all things. I made sure to incorporate art supplies and manipulatives whenever possible. I would only use or create beautiful worksheets (as if my son was impressed or even cared). I ensured every piece of my lesson plan flowed and transitioned flawlessly.
You don’t have to be a homeschool parent to know, sometimes things go awry. When my lessons didn’t go to plan, I would become frustrated; if I planned too much material, my son would become overwhelmed and lose interest. After some reflection, I reset my homeschool style and became less consumed with perfection and more interested in creating an engaging and fun environment. My son responded affirmatively and learning became easier. My son became more engaged mentally and was better equipped to retain the material. As I mentioned, homeschooling provides flexibility, so roll with it, and don’t abstain from having fun during homeschool.
Socialization ≠ Packed Busy Weeks
Socialization…it’s a word that plagues homeschoolers. We are often asked by relatives, friends, and pediatricians how we socialize our kids, and this can cause unneeded pressure. This pressure can deceive us into thinking that if we don’t have our kids involved in several extracurriculars, our children are missing out on the socialization that traditional school allows for. These outside pressures can get out of hand.
I endured the same socialization pressures when I began homeschooling too. Intentions were pure; I wanted to ensure my son was getting quality interactions with other children so that he could learn the importance of collaboration, friendly play, and problem-solving. However, as many new homeschoolers do, I overbooked our schedule with social activities.
In four months, we joined a Classical Conversations community, where I provided weekly classroom instruction to other homeschoolers, twice-weekly soccer, and Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) that met twice per month. These events did not account for play dates, which occurred regularly. During some weeks, we had something scheduled every single day. Burnout is real, so learn from my mistakes and don’t overbook your schedule. All these extracurriculars added various stressors, to include, combatting DC traffic to arrive on-time with a gaggle of children in tow, planning and scheduling conflicts, preparing and fitting homeschool into the daily routine, and managing the home front.
Cut and Recalibrate!
This upcoming year, I plan to make some cuts and recalibrations to focus on the most important things for my homeschool.
Although MOPS has been great for meeting other moms, I have found that it hasn’t added to my homeschool. I love the women I’ve met, but most were not homeschoolers, or they had kids in school, which made it difficult to build deep friendships. In addition, planning play dates around their school day, between my children and theirs, was usually inconvenient for either us or them.
Classical Conversations (CC) is something I will be continuing but will make some changes to different aspects of our CC educational approach. This includes but is not limited to planning my instruction as a tutor and how we implement reviewing our CC memory work in our homeschool (posts coming soon).
I will also be recalibrating my relationships. Don’t misunderstand my intentions, I love relationships, especially with other homeschool moms. However, I feel there is a limit to the number of deep, meaningful relationships you can maintain. As a teacher, I would stress about getting to know other faculty members and building relationships with other teachers. My intentions were unrealistic and the people I came to know best were those on my team. It’s no different in the homeschool world within co-ops or communities. Rather than stressing about truly knowing everyone, I plan to focus on building close friendships with other homeschool moms I’ve connected with so far.
Having a support system in the homeschooling realm is invaluable. It provides a sounding board to bounce ideas, discuss challenges, and explore other best practices. If you aren’t connected with other homeschoolers, I would highly recommend seeking them out. As adults, we celebrate our differences; children share similar differences. Children have different personalities and learning styles that may promote or prevent learning. Your homeschool support system may offer insight/experience into reaching children with learning behaviors similar to yours.