10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Homeschooling

You finally decided to do it. You are going to start homeschooling this year and you are SCARED. TO. DEATH

You have no idea what you are doing. All you’ve ever known is the public school system. You do not know many other families who are homeschooling. You feel a little weird about it but you know it is what is best for your family and for your kids. Well, you think it’s best for your kids but you are not sure….Is it really best? Are you going to royally mess your kids up? Ruin their education? Ruin them? You can already see that you are going to be the topic of many a discussion in your extended family and some of your friends……(maybe you will be, maybe you won’t be, but you feel that you will be).

I felt this way when we began homeschooling 8 years ago and now I can see that some of the thoughts I had were silly and unwarranted.  The idea of homeschooling was definitely new to my family but in reality, most of our family supported us and still do to this day. We have not been banished from our family. 

Several years into homeschooling, I realized that for each family, it is going to be very, very different.  We all have different reasons, different opinions, we think it should be done in different ways, etc. (By the way, aren’t you thankful that we have this freedom? I know I am!)

Homeschooling was already popular in our community when I began and I have seen dozens more switch to homeschooling over the past 8 years. I have had many friends ask me for advice when they started out and honestly, I always felt that I did not have much to offer, as far as advice, because even though we are entering our 8th year of homeschooling, I am still learning as I go.

Doubt still creeps in at times. I wonder if this is the best option for my kids. I feel weak and unable to accomplish this huge task. Then, I am reminded that I am weak, but He is strong.  I am not able to accomplish this task on my own, I have to give it to God. I have to rely on Jesus to get me through and to accomplish this work. 

Looking back, there are some things I wish I understood before we got started on this homeschool journey, but then again, I’m not sure I would have “gotten it” in the beginning. Some of these things I don’t think I would have realized until we were in it for a few years.

10 Things I wish I'd known when I started homedschooling - Pinterest

10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Homeschooling

1.    I wish I had known that it would take a while for us to get used to being together 24/7.

In fact, I would say that it took about a year. I was starting out with a 7th and 4th grader and had a 3 year old at home. I went from spending my days in a quiet environment with my 3 yr. old who was a very calm, quiet child, to having my other kids home. All. day. long. 🙂 It was a lot noisier than I thought it would be. It was something I never expected and I was surprised that it bothered me. It took some getting used to. Now, I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way! I would rather have the noise and know that my house is full of life than for it to be so quiet. 

2.   I wish we had taken a year off to “deschool”. 

I was actually told this in the beginning by another vetren homeschool mom. She told me that it would be a good idea to take the first year off. I thought she was crazy. No, not really, I didn’t think she was crazy but that idea scared me! They would get behind! They would miss so much! I was already worried about messing up their education and getting them behind, I couldn’t take a year off! 

She was so right. We should have taken a year off, if not a year, then a semester. That would have given us a chance to just be together, to get to know each other. I didn’t know how they each learned. I thought I knew them, but I really didn’t. They thought they knew me, but they really didn’t. It’s amazing what you learn about each other when you start spending all your days together. My kids are amazing and I wish I had taken some time off to let that sink in before we dove into our schoolwork. Yes, I already knew my kids were amazing before we started homeschooling, but I didn’t know just how truly amazing they were (and still are) until we spent more time together. 

It might sound crazy and scary to take time off to “deschool”, but if all you’ve ever known is how the public school system works and your kids have been in it for some time, it is a wise thing to take some time off. Your kids will not get “behind”. If anything, they will be able to declutter their minds by focusing on family, life, taking nature walks, spending your days going to museums or parks, watching educational videos, having deeper more meaningful conversations with each other, doing volunteer work together…..all these things will broaden their horizons and set the stage to get them to think outside of the box. 

3. I wish I had known that being consistent would be harder than I ever imagined.

I hate to admit it. I really do…..I struggle with consistency.

I didn’t realize how bad I was at that until we began homeschooling. I had finally gotten the hang of being a housewife with all the cleaning, cooking and organizing ( I wasn’t perfect at it, but was better than when I started out). Now, here I was with little eyes and faces (and hearts) looking to me to guide them everyday. I started out homeschooling with gusto….we stayed on track. Then it got hard. 

It’s hard to stick with what’s hard.  

It's hard to stick with what's hard. Click To Tweet

I have really had to lean on the Lord to help me through this and He has. He has taught me so much about myself through this homeschooling journey, and I am so grateful for that. 

I am still not as consistent as I would like to be, or as consistent as I think that I should be, but the important things do get done. 

4. I wish I had known that it’s ok to frequent breaks if needed.

I wish I had realized that we needed to take frequent breaks. I needed to take frequent breaks. This relates to the first thing I listed. We were making big changes. Transitioning the kids from being around hundreds of kids a day to being at home every day; transitioning myself from the calm, quietness of the day to kids being home every day….Yeah, we should have taken more breaks.  I loved them being home and I wanted to spend my days with them, but it would have been a more pleasant experience for all of us had we taken more breaks and not focused on the “school work” and focused more on each other. 

5. I wish I had known that it’s a bad idea to try to replicate the public school schedule.

What do you do when you start something new? You tend to replicate what you are familiar with. I wish I had realized that learning can happen in spurts, throughout the day. Learning doesn’t have to happen within a specified time slot.  

6. I wish I had known that all a preschooler really needs is creative time, play dough, paint (if your are brave enough) and legos (or Lincoln Logs).

I started out teaching the alphabet to my preschooler the first year we homeschooled. That was a bad idea. (For us anyway)

He was happy to start out at first but then lost interest…and I should have just let it go.

It was great at first. I got a spiral notebook and we looked through magazines for pictures that correlated with the letter he was learning.  We cut out the pictures and glued it in the notebook. Each letter had it’s own page.  I thought we must complete our ABCs notebook that year. There were some days that I felt like I had been put through the wringer and he probably didn’t feel so great either.  He was 3……I should have put it down, let it go and waited until he showed interest again to pick it back up….Ah… You live and learn! 

I have a 3 year old this year. She is showing interest in doing school work but I will approach it with a much different mindset this time.

7. I wish I had realized that there was a lot of information I had forgotten since my school days. 

I didn’t realize, until we got started, that there was a whole lot of stuff I had forgotten since being in school myself, and that it was ok, we would learn together. 

Something wonderful happens between you and your kids when you learn together.

Something wonderful happens between you and your kids when you learn together. Click To Tweet

8. I wish I had known not to not compare my beginning to someone else’s middle or end.

I read a lot of how-to homeschool books, and that’s great. I encourage you to read homeschooling books written by mom’s and dad’s who have homeschooled. 

I remember one book I read, the mom talked about how her teen boys loved     to read Shakespeare. They read Shakespeare for fun.

AHEM….my kids just wanted to go outside to play. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the fact that my kids really were not excited at the thought of learning something new.  Learning seemed more like a chore to them that first year and I now understand why. That was a side effect of being confined to a classroom and being expected to learn new things the same way everyone else did instead of being able to explore different ways of learning that may have suited them better.

 My family is different from your family. My kids have different interests and may not want to read Shakespeare, and that’s ok. I shouldn’t have compared to our first year of homeschooling to a family who started out homeschooling from day one.  

9. I wish I had known that there would be extremely hard days ahead, but also the sweetest days as well.

I really didn’t know what to expect when we started out. I had some preconceived ideas about the way it would be or the way it should be. 

Homeschooling is a challenge. I have had really challenging days, days I have thought that there was no way God called us to do this (we must have misunderstood what He was telling us :-), and I have had days that I wanted to quit. 

We have also had the sweetest days ever! I am thankful the sweetest days outnumber the hard days.

Most days, I can’t imagine doing anything differently.  I am overwhelmed with God’s grace and mercy and am absolutely certain this is what He wants us to do. 

I didn’t know how to handle those hard days in the beginning. I didn’t know how much I would have to lean on Jesus to homeschool my children. Those hard days still show up every once in a while, but they do not catch me off guard. I know to expect them, I know how to combat them, and I know that they will not stick around long. 

10. I wish I had known that it’s ok to ask for help. 

I have never been a person that could ask for help easily. It was not easy for me to admit that I could not accomplish something.  

I know better now. It’s ok to admit that you can’t do it all. It’s ok to ask for help. Chances are, your family wants to see you succeed. More times than not, they will be willing to help you out from time to time. If you can’t get school work done with your older kids, it’s perfectly fine to ask for help with your toddler. Yes, you have to figure out how to juggle it all eventually, and you will, but in the beginning, give yourself some grace and ask for help if you need it.  

Homeschooling has been hard, humbling, exciting, rewarding, scary and sweet.  It’s been a mixture of emotions. I’ve learned so much about myself and my sweet family. 

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Food for thought…

I was listening to a very interesting talk not long ago and the speaker said something like this….

God gives us the gift of choice, but God Himself chooses the consequences. We are not allowed to determine the consequences; He reserves that right. 

I have to admit that maybe, in the beginning, in the back of my mind, I thought that because we chose to homeschool that my kids would turn out better.  

Better than what?

Better than if they stayed in the public school system. Yes, the choices you make now for your kids will affect the choices they make later….to a certain extent. 

They still have choices to make on their own. Homeschooled kids still break parents’ hearts, can disrespect their parents, still love their parents, still honor their parents, etc……. 

There is no guarantee that comes with the decision to homeschool. 

The point is, God gives you the choice to homeschool, or not to homeschool, but you cannot determine the outcome of that. It is in His hands.   

Choose to homeschool because you feel that is right for your family and then leave the rest to God. Pray for your children, invest in your children, pray for your homeschool and God will take care of the rest.  

 Are there things you wish you had known before you started homeschooling?  

*You may find this post here*

Amanda

Amanda

You'll catch Amanda at mendedandblended.com writing about her
family's journey of being mended and blended together by the thread of the Word of God. They are a homeschooling family on this journey with 4 children talking about real life andseeking to encourage others.
Amanda
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44 thoughts on “10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Homeschooling

  1. This has been very insightful. We have been going back and forth about whether we want to homeschool, private school, or public school our two daughters. It sounds very hard and intimidating, but all things are possible with God. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. I think the one thing that I wish I had been told was not to get bogged down or caught up in what “method of homeschooling” I ascribed to. There are so many great ways to home school and it is easy to turn it into another thing that is a “this camp or that camp” type of situation. That isn’t what this is about. It’s about doing what is best for you and your family and following the path God has placed you on. The “method” doesn’t really matter.

    Thanks for this list. Its a great reminder of why I do what I do.

  3. ” I wish I had known that it’s a bad idea to try to replicate the public school schedule.” So many homeschoolers try to do this at first, and they nearly always burn out. We can accomplish so much more in way less time as homeschoolers!

  4. I am just starting homeschooling this year! We have had a looooong summer to “deschool” because we moved from one state to another with completely different schedules. Anyway, I’m a former public school teacher, and even I have had all these same thoughts. I agree that the freedom is worth all the scares from newness.

  5. I found myself saying YES to every single one of these! This is our third year homeschooling, and I can think of so many things I wish I had known. Now looking back, I am grateful for the journey of failing and learning and refining those first couple of years. Most of all I wish I hadn’t pushed academics so hard in some areas and just enjoyed being with my children as they learned and explored naturally. And yes, you are right that we cannot control the outcome- homeschooling isn’t their Savior!

  6. Great tips and very helpful for those that are considering this commitment. (I have family members that home school and I know it is quite rewarding but definitely a real commitment).

  7. H Renee, I only homeschooled partially but I think these 10 tips are great. There are a lot of homeschooling families at our church and two of my adult kids are homeschooling their kids and I believe this information is very wise. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I wish I had known that what God calls us to do, He will surely equip us to do! But He did use my unfounded fears to keep me dependent upon Him. So all was not in vain. We just began our 18th year of homeschooling and I cannot imagine my life any other way.

  9. Great thoughts! I had many of the same ones. I don’t think you ever really feel like you’ve got it all figured out because every year, every semester is different. We had our bumps in the road, too, but when they came up I prayed about them and God was faithful to get us through. Now, looking back, I’m so grateful for the fourteen years I spent homeschooling. It was such a blessing!

  10. I dont have children yet. But I have definitely thought about homeschooling when it’s time. My mom was a teacher and if all else fails. She can teach my babies. My brother was in her class for 6 weeks while his teacher was on maternity leave and she said the only way they got through it was because she took brakes with him and tried to not take thing personally.

  11. Renee, This is all very good advice! I homeschooled my children from Kindergarten through 8th or 9th grade, then they went to high school and college. I loved homeschooling and really miss those days of being together. But, there are definitely those things that you wish you had known to start out. Looking back I can say that, while our homeschool wasn’t perfect, my children are very close to each other as young adults, which I attribute to our homeschooling years. That is a big blessing!

    1. Marie, Thank you! Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we sent our kids back to public school….and I shudder. I have even more reasons now to homeschool than I did when we started.

  12. This is very well written. I wrote a similar blog post on my old blog, but now that I’m a veteran blogger my thoughts would definitely align more with your thoughts now than they did back then.
    I love homeschooling with my kids despite the hard days.

    1. Cindy, Hope you found it helpful in some way. Even though I have had my doubts over the years, eight years into it, I still am convenience it’s the right thing for us 🙂

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