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!