It’s summertime and that means everyone is busy making plans for the next school year. Homeschooling moms are looking at curriculum options and deciding what to buy. Optimism and anticipation will slowly rise over the coming weeks as new books and school supplies start filling up homes again.
But some moms are wondering if they even want to do this homeschool thing again. They have just
finished up survived their first year. Truth be told, they feel a little shell-shocked. It wasn’t what they expected. It wasn’t what they read about on all those perfect homeschool blogs.
They aren’t sure that homeschooling is going to work for their family.
They wonder if they should quit after the first year of homeschooling.
Do you relate to this?
It might be less than enthusiastic kids. It might be power struggles. It might be learning difficulties. It might be illness. It might be money.
It might be a whole bunch of things.
I think most homeschoolers have felt that way at one time or another. I knew I wanted to homeschool before I had a child and yet there have been hours, days, and even weeks when I wished I could quit.
Even though I knew it was the best choice for my family and my child, I still didn’t want to do this any longer. At one point I even toured the local Christian school to see if it might be better for our daughter.
But we’ll be starting our fourth year in the fall and I’m glad we stuck with it.
Before you throw in the towel after one year, here are a few things to consider that just might help you keep going.
1. It takes time to deschool
If your children have been enrolled in school in the past, it takes time to undo the school mindset. Yes, it might even take a full year.
If you’ve had your children in traditional school for a few years and are now homeschooling, the first year should not be considered a “normal” year. You all are just starting to find your way free. It’s called deschooling and it’s very common.
Take this first year of homeschool and chalk it up to deschooling. Consider it prep time or boot camp for the real adventure.
2. Anything new takes an adjustment
Whether it is a new job, a new church, a new city, marriage or a baby… Change always includes a period of adjustment. If you’ve gone from being just mom to mom AND teacher, then it is going to take some adjustment for everyone.
It takes time to adjust to a new way of living. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It takes time to figure out how to work everything into the day (home, meals, school, activities, etc.). No one figures it all out right away.
And most homeschooling moms will tell you that they are tweaking and adjusting every year as their family changes.
3. It takes time to study your children and figure out what makes them tick
One of the reasons so many people homeschool is the desire to give their child the education he/she needs. They realize that the traditional school route isn’t going to be optimal so they choose home education.
But knowing that your child won’t thrive in school and figuring out how he will thrive at home are two different things. It’s easier to recognize something that isn’t working. It’s a bit tougher to figure out what will work and how to make it happen.
I would guess that after spending a year at home with your children you know so much more about them. This is incredibly valuable information that will help you prepare more effectively for your second year. You will have a better idea of how they learn best, what kinds of materials work most effectively with them, etc.
Again, consider this preparation for the real adventure ahead.
4. Trial and error are a part of learning
Just as we expect our children to try and fail as a part of the learning experience, so will we as homeschooling parents. I’ve purchased things that didn’t work. I’ve brought out activities I thought would go over well and were a dud. It’s part of the experience. It happens to ALL homeschooling parents.
Accept that trial and error is part of being a homeschool parent. Use it as an opportunity to model failure to your children. Teach them how to reevaluate and learn from a mistake. Then move on to something else.
5. You’ve already invested too much to walk away now
You have invested a lot of yourself into this first year. Your children have also invested into this first year (although they may not fully realize it). After putting so much time and energy into getting through the first year, you really owe it to yourself and your children to try one more year before you throw in the towel.
Take the time to figure out why you want to quit and brainstorm ways to overcome those issues.
Do you need to rethink how you discipline? That is something you can work on changing over the summer before school starts.
Do you have attitude problems in your home? Use the summer to work on that away from the formal learning environment so it isn’t necessarily associated with your homeschool time. (And sending children with attitude problems to traditional school is not going to solve the attitude problem. You’re just giving the teacher the headache and then you still have to deal with them when they get home and are tired and cranky from being in school all day.)
Do you need a different learning approach? Take the time to find realistic moms and learn from them. Maybe you want to use a certain curriculum or approach, but it really doesn’t fit with your children. (That’s my situation and why we are relaxed homeschoolers who homeschooled in the afternoon and not the morning.) Take the time to make the change for a fresh start.
Whatever the reason, look at all that you’ve invested so far in your homeschool pursuit and find a way to build on that investment.
Tell yourself – just one more year
Homeschooling parents look at their commitment to homeschooling in a variety of ways. Some have an unshakeable certainty that they will homeschool every child through high school. Some parents take it on a year by year, child by child basis. Others fall somewhere in the middle.
If you are feeling uncertain about homeschooling again next year, but still know deep down inside that you know the value of it for your family… Tell yourself to think of just one more year.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to think beyond that. Just take it one year at a time. Expect that with some changes and adjustments that next year will be better.
And you know what? I bet the year after THAT will be even better.