There is no doubt about it. The first year of homeschooling can be rough. Between trying to decide on the best curriculum for your family, balancing home and schoolwork and figuring out how to get your children to actually learn something, it can be a very scary proposition. But there are some things that new and veteran homeschoolers alike may want to keep in mind when the going gets tough.
Remember the reason you choose to school your child at home. The choice to teach our children at home is not usually made without serious consideration and there were many determining factors when we made this decision. On a regular basis, try to recall those reasons and focus on them. For some families, creating a written "Mission Statement" helps us to recognize our overall purpose and allows us to stay the course.
There is no master blueprint for homeschooling that fits every family. Just as every family is different and every child learns differently, so are the ways that our homeschools function. The trick is to be flexible enough to experiment with different things until you discover the best methods, tools and options that meet your family's learning needs. Yes, this could mean that you will have to change curriculums or you will need to spend more time covering one topic or another or you may have to adjust your schedule to fit your household, but in the end, you will find the things that work and don't work for your home.
While learning can be sometimes very challenging, it can also be loads of fun. Don't be afraid to be silly and take your studies outside of the classroom. Get outside, visit parks and museums, explore your neighborhood and town, play games, watch movies, discover new things and places away from your books. We incorporated lots of hands-on activities into as many of our studies as we could. The world outside is a wonderful classroom and laughter can encourage learning.
One of the very best things about homeschooling is that we have a wonderful opportunity to build strong family bonds. Like most families, my children did not always get along and sometimes still have disagreements with each other even as adults, but when push comes to shove, they don't just consider themselves to be siblings only, but also friends. They also had tremendous opportunities to spend a lot of extra time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles and learn a lot of different things from them too, including first-hand accounts of family history, skills that, as their teacher, I struggled with, and much more. And I feel that my relationship with them is all that much better because of all the time we spent together.
You do not have to go this journey alone. For some, joining a co-op or homeschool group can be a sanity-saver. For me, I had an entire online family of homeschool moms that I got to know as we blogged through our homeschooling years. Some I have since met in person, but most I have never met, yet we still were (and are) there for each other. Having some sort of support network is invaluable. It is incredibly helpful to be part of a group of others who understands what we are going through, that encourages one another through every chapter of teaching our children, with whom we can compare notes, share tips and inspiration, and most importantly, we are able to blow off steam with when things just seem to be out of control.
Yes, homeschooling can sometimes get rough and we may have all felt like throwing in the towel from time to time. But by hanging in there through this amazingly opportunity, you will quickly discover the joy in it and it is so worth everything we go through, both for the teacher and the student.