5 things to do this summer if you’re considering homeschooling

Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler

It’s that time of year again. The time when homeschooling message boards around the internet start to fill with what I call the “before summer” questions.

“How do I do this?” moms ask with a sigh. And then with a little worry, “Can I do this?”

So I thought as we head into my 40th birthday this month, (yes, it’s a biggie this year!) I’d take the time to write a blog post about the most important things to do over the summer if you’re considering homeschooling next year.

Keep in mind that this is not a list of requirements and rules you need to cover before homeschooling.

Rather I want to focus on the second question asked above, the more hesitant, nervous one that pokes around at the back of your head as you scout out curriculum online and surreptitiously message your homeschooling mom friends that perhaps you’re not really cut out for this.

Let’s jump right in!

1. Spend time dreaming.

The first thing I would suggest for anyone considering homeschooling is to spend lots of time dreaming about what you see as your ideal day. Of course, it may never look like that; of course, life will throw you some curve balls.

And no, it will not always be as pleasant as what you’ve dreamed.

But consider the time when you were pregnant with your first child. Remember the time you spent dreaming? Remember the strength you drew from those dreams during the difficult times?

These crazy, perfect dreams fill us with strength. Don’t give up on them.

2. Be inspired, not stressed out.

While in the process of dreaming, if you have time, read some books by other homeschoolers. But I strongly suggest keeping them light.

Tomes that prescribe how you should homeschool are guaranteed to stress you out, so don’t read those. Not yet, anyway. You’ll have plenty of time for that later. For now, I would suggest you pick out memoirs by other homeschoolers.

Also, seek out some local homeschoolers – meet them, ask them questions, go out on play dates together. Talk to the kids.

But don’t think you have to do everything exactly as they do it. That will drive you nuts. Aim to be inspired, not stressed out.

3. Spend some time recording what makes your kids happy.

I mention this a lot in my book Create Your Own Homeschooling Curriculum: A Step by Step Guide. (afflink) I think it is incredibly important to know what makes your child come alive.

What makes her eyes light up? What does he enjoy more than anything else? If given nothing to do, what would they do?

Record it so that you always have a handy reference for something to fall back on when days get difficult or you feel like you’re pushing too hard.

And by the same token, also remind yourself of what drives your child to the brink. I have a 5-year-old who is the toughest kid ever. He can take a fall, a hit to the head, whatever.

But if my husband scolds him with even the hint of harshness in his voice, this child crumples like origami. So it’s important for us to know that he genuinely tries to please us and gets hurt easily. This carries over into our homeschooling.

4. Spend some time asking yourself what makes you feel fulfilled.

This is an important one. Do not leave yourself out of the equation. Ensure that you spend some time doing something that makes you feel fulfilled. It doesn’t have to be financially fulfilling. It can be a hobby that brings you joy.

Just because you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean that you have to set aside everything that makes you happy.

Yes, it will require choosing some things over others and, yes, it might require you to be a teeny-tiny bit more organized than usual. However, don’t let homeschooling take over your life.

In fact, the best thing about homeschool is that it’s not school. It’s life lived together. Ensure that you identify what makes you happy and make time for it in your weekly schedule.

If you want to have children who find their own passions, you must not give up on yours.

5. Talk a lot.

Believe me, if my husband is reading this, he’s laughing. No one needs to tell me to talk, especially if they hand me a glass of wine first, but that’s not what I mean.

I mean spend time this summer having intentional conversations with your children. Turn off the radio when you’re driving. It’s amazing how many questions they will ask.

Conversations cover what curricula cannot. Make lots of time for them.

So enjoy your summer. Enjoy your family! Don’t try to fill every minute with activities, but also use the time to learn the pace and the peace of homeschooling.

Experienced homeschoolers, what would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments!

If you found this post helpful, subscribe via email here to receive Jamie’s FREE ebook, Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom!

About Purva Brown

Purva Brown is a writer and homeschooling mom to three. She writes on a variety of topics across many genres and lives with her husband in Sacramento, California. Her most recent book is The Classical Unschooler. She blogs at PurvaBrown.com.

Comments

  1. YumBumTribe says:

    DH and I have decided to homeschool our now-3.5 and now-1.5 yr olds. At present, our “curriculum” is just lots of fresh air, extended playtime when I try not to hover (!), and lots of reading and singing. Certainly, there are “lessons” that are happening: my 3.5 yr can “divide” if you count that as distributing cookies to everyone equally. My 1.5 yr is learning how not to bite or hit! I am somewhat worried that I should be doing more with them, but DH and I specifically decided to hs so that we were not on a resume-building treadmill. My mainstream-schooled nieces (ages 3.5 and 5) are already building their resumes for admission to high school.

  2. Natalie says:

    Yes! I, too, have found myself sharing a little with a new-to-homeschooling mom in the waiting room at our dance studio. She had some questions since she just learned that her daughter (and her husband!) are most likely dyslexic. As I have had a little training, I was able to point her to resources. And of course, we talked about other aspects. But the next week a grandmotherly woman she hadn’t seen in a while, gave her tips, non-stop, for an hour! This first year homeschool mom is still second-guessing her decision to pull them (and being drilled with all the “shoulds” wasn’t helping. At the end, I finally looked up and said something along the lines of, “Look, remember that you pulled them out of the traditional school because they were being bullied and because you could give them the individual attention they were not getting in school.” So that would be my first tip (which is stated all the time here on Simple Homeschool): remember WHY you chose to homeschool.
    Secondly, I reminded her that in the end, we must show grace — to ourselves and our children. Every child is different and will learn respond differently. Ultimately, we want them to learn to love the Lord (I already knew she was a Christian and, from the conversation, it sounded like the grandmother attended church somewhere, too, so I didn’t just say that in an assumptive way.) We MUST show them grace!

    Last, for my particular situation, I had a 5 & 3 year old (my kids are 12, 10, & 7 now), am married to a pastor, & live in a small town. So I had a number of responsibilities at church as well. I came from a teaching background, so the number 1 thing I looked for as I prepared to teach was a curriculum guide. Having taught in the schools before, I have experienced both writing my own lesson plans and using someone else’s. I knew myself and how incredibly long I take writing out lesson plans. I also knew how comfortable I felt tweaking the plan to fit my students. So, for me, I chose the blessing of a curriculum that was well written, but easy to tweak. And to this day, I am SO glad I did. Which may sound bad, Purva, since you wrote a while book on how to avoid purchasing a complete out-of-the-box curriculum.

    So let me say this, once more: I personally needed a launching point and then I was comfortable tweaking and making the curriculum my own. It is cheaper to create your own and extremely rewarding! In many ways I wish I was able to go that route entirely. But I know me and I know my strengths & weaknesses — and I got the tool that was best for me. Just like Purva said, “But don’t think you have to do everything exactly as they do it. That will drive you nuts. Aim to be inspired, not stressed out.”

    Thanks for the good post!

  3. Thank you so much for this, Purva! I’m hosting an ‘interested in homeschooling’ meeting next week and I will either print this or send the this link to all who attended. Your post is perfect!

  4. One of the best things I did was ask my son what he wanted to learn. He is 12 and was in Public School from K-6. At first when I asked him this he thought only in terms of academics. Then finally he said you know I would like to learn how to write a book. So this for next year I surprised him with finding a writing course that is all about teaching you how to write a book; and it is meant for his age. He was in complete shock when I told him that was his Language Arts Class.
    Homeschooling is great for letting you think outside the box in regards to curriculum for your child.

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