Encouragement for new homeschoolers ~ reflecting on thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches I have considered as I have journeyed in my 19+ years of homeschooling …
Don’t jump in and try to do the whole schedule! Your kids will freak out and you will quickly burn out. It is fine to start slow, progress gradually, focus on one new skill or subject each week. When starting homeschooling, take at least 3 months to build up your daily schedule. It is fine to leave some subjects out completely and then gradually integrate them into the schedule later. Looking back, nothing was really learnt in the stress of discovering how what and when to “do absolutely everything” on the schedule!
It is essential that you slow down! Spread out a 12-month schedule over 18 months to 2 years! It will be the best approach for all the middle school years, allowing you and your kids time to enjoy all the scenic routes and ‘rabbit trails’ along the way. Most importantly, your kids will love the relaxed schedule and do lots of hands-on activities that make homeschool such fun!
Don’t “do school” at home! The lovely little timetable, the neat school books, the whiteboard and desk for each child is absolutely fine, but you can accomplish so much informally, organically and uniquely. Use these physical aspects as a guideline or base, but allow for flexibility and individuality.
Find your family’s rhythm and flow. Adjust your approach to suit each child’s learning style, each subject’s requirements, and your personal teaching/ facilitating style. Once again, remember you are tailor-making your child’s learning experience. You are not reproducing “the system for the masses” at home!
Don’t make everything a lesson. Oh boy, Nadene, hear me here … your kids shut down when you start explaining e.v.e.r.y. t.h.i.n.g! They hear that “mom-the-teacher-voice” and groan. You can ask a few questions, answer their questions, but don’t teach all the time.
Remember this when reading aloud, don’t stop to explain this or that, ask pesky questions and interrupt the natural learning experience. Listen to Charlotte Mason’s advice and “keep out of the way” and allow the child to “engage with the author” and the concepts on their own.
Let nature study just be a nature ‘experience‘. Your teens will refuse to “do nature study” because your earlier nature study lessons were too formal and regimented.
Likewise, with Fine Arts, fill the room with classical music and just shut up and encourage everyone to simply enjoy the music. Forget about reading the composer biographies, discussing musical technical terms and just let the music flow. Simply enjoy the time and musical experience together.
Relax. Breathe. Your children WILL LEARN! You need to trust this natural ability. Foster and encourage their delight to learn. facilitate their needs, fertilize their minds and hearts with excellent literature and great books. Expose them to great ideas and discoveries, fine arts and nature. Encourage them to connect new ideas to what they already know.
They will not fall through the gaps. They will catch up. They will become great self-learners. They will grow up balanced and sound. They will be amazing!
Above all, trust the Lord and teach from a place of faith and rest. Keep your heart trusting and surrendered. This will be the Lord’s greatest blessing to you in your homeschooling journey.
With hindsight blessings,
I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic! Please, would you share yours in the comments?
In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series: