Advice to the New Homeschool Mom
Dear new homeschool mom, STOP FREAKING OUT! Do you really think that God gave you the desire to teach your children at home just so you can spend every minute with them stressing out? Trust me, I understand! You’re scared that you aren’t good enough or that you’re not using the best curriculum, or they’re not getting enough socialization. You’re afraid that you aren’t pushing them hard enough. Or you think that you’re taking it too easy on them and they will end up being stupid and not able to figure out how to behave as an adult. Or perhaps you’re scared of breaking a homeschool law. I get it! I was once a new homeschool mom too and I was so afraid I was going to ruin my kids for life.
Well guess what? Public school parents have many of these same exact concerns. I know because I was one of them for a few years. They worry that their children aren’t getting enough of a challenge or one on one attention. They may feel guilty for allowing the school to be the main source of their child’s education. They worry about socialization in a whole other way. They can’t help who’s in their child’s class and how other children behave. They have to worry about truancy laws and make sure that their children don’t miss too many days of school.
My point is that no matter which path you choose for your child’s education, it’s easy to feel guilty and find areas to worry about as a parent. Putting them in public school won’t solve all of your problems!
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My journey as a homeschool mom started 14 years ago. If I only knew then what I know now. Or maybe if I had more seasoned homeschool parents in my life to ask questions or gain wisdom from, then maybe things would’ve turned out differently with my oldest son who is now 20 years old and resents me for homeschooling him. The first 8 or 10 years of homeschooling were pretty rocky. I’m not even going to lie! There were so many times that I just wanted to quit. Once I even took him to tour a public school. Don’t ever do that unless you are 100% sure that you will be putting them in public school. Taking that tour got my son excited, but the more I prayed about it, I knew that God wanted me to continue homeschooling. He never told me to tour that school. My disobedience to God ended up causing more trouble with my son.
What I needed back then was more insight that can only be gotten from time or by talking to those who have already walked the walk. So that’s why I’m writing this today. I’m hoping to help you as a new homeschool mom to find freedom instead of frustration in your homeschool adventure.
Here’s what I have learned over the last 14 years:
Relationship is more important than any curriculum.
I destroyed my relationship with my oldest son because I thought that we had to finish every page of the workbook and stick to a schedule. I wasted so much time planning out and grading his schoolwork. I got really upset with him when he wasn’t doing well. All I did was teach him to hate learning. I wish I could have a do-over, but I can’t, so please take my words seriously and try to not make the same mistakes.
If your child is having a hard day, put the books aside. Go outside if you can. Play more games with them. Let them be a kid and play! Make learning fun! If you make it enjoyable, then you are teaching them to love to learn. However, if you punish them for having a bad day, I can promise you that you both will end up having a worse day. How would you like it if your boss gave you more work because you couldn’t complete a certain task on time or to their standards? You wouldn’t like that job much. The same is true with children. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. We all have bad days!
Don’t make them finish schoolwork before a “field trip”!
I cringe every time I host a homeschool meet up and a mother (almost always a new homeschooler) tells me that they can’t make it because their child won’t have enough time to finish their schoolwork before then. Are you kidding me? Did you have to go to school and get all of your work finished before the bus would leave? NO! So, why do you do this to your child? You need to lighten up and learn to enjoy your time out with your kids more. Think of all of the things they are learning while they are out. Getting out and exploring the world teaches in a way that no text book could ever compare to.
Are you worried that you’re taking too many field trips, thus taking away from formal academics? You shouldn’t! Homeschooling gives you the freedom to step outside of the the public school box and do things differently. It’s a gift and a blessing and you’re really missing out if you don’t take advantage of this freedom.
If you’re trying to duplicate a public school, you are setting yourself up for failure!
You are NOT a public school! You do not have to have a schedule and you don’t have to teach PE, art, and music every week. You don’t have to make your child recite the Pledge of Allegiance (although there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that), and you don’t have to have a “school room”. And you most certainly don’t need to finish all of the schoolwork by a certain time each day.
God put this desire to homeschool in your heart for a reason and surely it wasn’t so you can mimic a government institution that marches to the beat of the average student. You are in this for very special, unique reasons. Maybe it’s because the public schools just weren’t helping your children in areas that they struggled in. Guess what? You can take it easy on other subjects while you focus in on that thing that they have fallen behind in because of the public school failing them. Maybe you started homeschooling because God just put it on your heart. Why do you think He gave you that desire? He wants to use homeschooling as a way to bless your family! So don’t allow homeschooling to become that thing that actually drives a wedge in between you and your children because you’re so stressed out over trying to be just like a public school!
If you find that you just can’t let go of a full curriculum, then check out two of my favorite places to find learning tools that are sure to change things up for your family and make homeschooling more fun.
First is Timberdoodle. I stumbled upon this amazing website many years ago when my oldest was in fourth grade and we’ve continued to use their resources over the years. If you want more hands on learning that your children will really enjoy, this is a place to check out before you go anywhere else. I promise that you won’t be let down!
Second Is UnitStudy.com. Does your child have a particular interest and you’re just not sure how to further educate them on it? This site has unit studies for almost every topic. We’ve enjoyed learning more about sharks, volcanoes, and even Bible study with Unit Studies.
Here’s an example of their amazing study on Israel:
Comparison will steal all of your joy!
This is true for all areas of life, not just homeschooling. I’ve noticed that my family is the happiest when we are doing things how they work the best for US. The moment that I start trying to do things the way someone else is doing it is when I feel like I’m losing my mind and my peace.
There are SO many different ways to homeschool and a plethora of curriculum to choose from. It can be downright overwhelming at times. If you’re having trouble figuring it all out, the first thing you need to do is STOP! Take a homeschool break and use that extra time to draw closer to the Lord and ask Him to guide you. Ask him to lead you to the perfect curriculum. Maybe unschooling would actually work better for your family. (If you’re not familiar with that term, you can read more about it here.)
Ask God to help you find your homeschool rhythm. Pray for Him to put more seasoned homeschoolers in your path who can help you in the areas that you are struggling with. I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have, just shoot me an email at info@BibleMomma.com.
Momma, pull yourself together and chill out! In the blink of an eye, your children will be grown and gone. Why are you fretting so much over trying to be perfect? What is it that has you so wound tight? Do you feel like your house has to be clean all of the time? Do you think you have to get all of the lessons finished? Are your kids in way too many extracurricular activities? Do you constantly put your self dead last and then wonder why you struggle to make it through another day?
Maybe it’s time to let some things go! Let go of imperfections. Your house can be perfect for your grandchildren. Right now is the time to focus on actually enjoying life with your family. If you just can’t stand to see a messy house (I get it because I’m the same way), then maybe it’s time to do a serious home declutter. All of those possessions take up precious time. While you’re cleaning and putting things away, that time could be spent playing games with your children or enjoying a hobby that you never seem to have time for.
Don’t take advice from someone who hasn’t homeschooled!
I pushed my oldest son into sports because everyone around me was just terrified that he wasn’t getting enough socialization. I honestly felt bullied by people who should’ve been the most supportive of my decisions as a parent. Do you know what happened? My son honestly hated me for making him try things that he had no desire in. If your child is shy or introverted, do NOT push them to do group things just because other people think it’s what they need. You know better than anyone what your child needs and if you allow others to sway your decisions, you will end up with a lot of regrets!
Usually those who have the most unwanted advice to give, are those who think they are looking out for your child’s best interests. They are people who know nothing about homeschooling. Taking advice from someone who has never personally dealt with homeschooling is like taking parenting advice from a single person who has never had a child. (Read that again!) Don’t let those people dictate your decisions as a parent.
God has the ultimate say!
I tried to homeschool my oldest son to the very best of my abilities. I involved him in a lot of activities for socialization. We did co-ops so he could better learn the things that I just wasn’t great at teaching and also to add more fun to our routine. We took several field trips and I made sure that he had free time with his best friends. When he was younger, I thought that I needed to behave like a real teacher. I sat and planned out his lesson plans and I graded his papers with my red pen, pointing out all of his mistakes. Oh how I regret not pointing out more positive things to him. I crushed his spirit time and time again, all in the name of “being a real teacher”.
Now that he’s grown and out of the house, I can see that all of my striving so hard, struggling day in and day out, got me nowhere! All it did for my son was make him hate learning. Please don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Instead, realize that no matter how you try to raise your children, they will go their own way and God has the ultimate say in their lives. He never meant for you to be so stressed out over teaching your children. He gave each person the natural ability to seek out their desires and to learn new things on their own. You don’t get upset with your baby when he stumbles and falls when he’s learning to walk, so why waste time being frustrated with your child over a math problem that they are having trouble grasping? They will learn everything they need to know at their own pace!
I know that as a new homeschooler, you feel like you are jumping into a 10 foot pool without knowing how to swim. You try teaching yourself as quickly as you can. You feel like you’re drowning and you consider just giving up. Please don’t give up! Instead, give it over to the Lord!
If you will truly seek Him in regards to homeschooling, He will light the way. He will show you the unique path that is meant just for you.
Be blessed my friends!
P.S. If you’re a homeschool parent in need of more encouragement, I’ve teamed up with the Timberdoodle Blog Hop. Come back here beginning on Febuary 3rd for more great posts from my Timberdoodle blogging friends! In the mean time, be sure to check out some of their product reviews by clicking here.
I’m Amanda and a Christian homeschooling Mom to 4 awesome boys from ages 4 to 20.
I have an amazing, supportive husband, a passion for encouraging others in their faith, and helping new homeschoolers find their way through their journey.
Thank you for stopping by and getting to know me better.