Written by Angie Kauffman of Real Life at Home
If you would have talked to me about the idea of homeschooling nine years ago, I probably would have thought you were crazy. But we eventually decided it was our best educational option, and we’ve been going strong for seven years now.
Beginning to homeschool was a huge transition, and now another looms ahead of us:
Unless something changes between now and August, our children (ages 10, 13, & 15) have all decided to attend school full-time in the fall.
In fact, one has already been enrolled this year. The other two have been attending part-time.
This period of change for our family has given me a chance to reflect on what I’ve learned about homeschooling over the past seven years:
The value of one-on-one time can’t be overestimated
The main reason we decided to homeschool was because we recognized that both of our sons, then finishing up first and second grade, desperately needed more one-on-one teaching.
Our boys both moved from being far behind to more in line with peers after having a lot of one-on-one instruction.
The value of that time for them was immeasurable. I will never regret spending it with them, as well as allowing for an environment where they could move at their own pace.
Homeschooling can be both exciting and overwhelming
I have loved the opportunity to be so hands-on with my kids as they have learned new concepts and skills.
It’s been especially exciting to do things like teach my youngest to read, participate as my oldest finally understood algebra, and watch as my middle child fell in love with a book that I adored at his age.
Homeschooling can be overwhelming too, though. I have treasured those exciting times, but it’s all too easy to get bogged down by the responsibility and enormity of it.
I have often had to keep those exciting times close to my heart to help me get through the difficult moments.
I highly recommend a support system of homeschooling or like-minded friends for both you and your children. That can be such a sanity saver.
A routine can make everyone more comfortable
It could be a set schedule, a general routine, or just a rhythm to your days, but it’s good to find a way to have it.
Not every day has to look the same. I have found, however, that the times when I have been well organized and our days flowed, my kids and I were happier and more comfortable.
Be mindful and realistic when you buy curriculum and resources
Each year when planning time came around, I seemed to suddenly forget what we could accomplish in a realistic day. Almost every year found me buying more than we could ever use.
I sometimes wonder how much money I could have saved and how much less guilt I would have piled on myself if I had just been realistic about what we would actually use versus what I felt like we should be doing.
Make a point to view your homeschooling journey in a positive light
I can’t say that I have loved every minute of homeschooling. There were times when I didn’t like it at all.
However, I don’t regret having spent these seven years dedicated to my family in this way. Even in my most overwhelmed moments, I knew that this time was a gift to my children and a gift to myself.
Our school year will look very different next year, and I have mixed emotions about those changes. However, I’m taking comfort in a few truths:
My kids and I will keep learning and growing together regardless of where they attend school.
It also gives me peace to know that my heart is still open to homeschooling.
Despite the fact that it seems like our homeschooling journey may be over, my kids and I all know that at a moment’s notice, we can be prepared to go right back to that journey.
What are some takeaways that you would share with a new homeschooler about your homeschooling journey so far?
This tugged at my heartstrings. Good advice. I might be in your shoes in a year or two.
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Thanks for the insight. We have not been homeschooling near as long. This year we are completing our 3rd year. Next year will mark some big changes as we add another sibling to the table. But here is what I have loved. I have loved being with my kids every morning. I have loved teaching our oldest to read and watch him develop a passion for it. I have loved his younger siblings bounce in and out as we tackle various subjects of interest to them. That said, all that togetherness does not always feel so grand, but instead of just going our separate ways we are forced to face it, and work things out. I have to admit that it is overwhelming at times, and even that I don’t want to do it every day. But I also love that there isn’t a compulsory form of home education and I’m thankful we can be flexible and open to changing our routine when it isn’t working for us anymore.
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I like that you are okay with returning to school. It makes it so much easier when you can look at your own family, see their needs, and act on them. And sometimes kids just have different needs at different stages of their life.
These are great takeaways and I feel the same with our homeschooling journey. I wish your family success with next year.
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Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Blessings and joy to you and your family during this transition!
My kids were in grade 7 and 3 when we started homeschooling. After 4 years (and a new baby), they decided to attend public school again — we had given them the choice every year. The younger one thinks one year of junior high is enough and wants to homeschool again next year, but the oldest wants to finish his last year in public school. We have found both benefits and drawbacks in both schooling methods, but are glad we’re able to give the kids a choice.
We’re on year six here and everything you write rings true.
One of the best early lessons I learned was that it’s a lot more comfortable for everyone involved if you observe the natural rhythm of the day and simply tweak it here and there, rather than throw down a whole new, rigid schedule for everyone to follow.
I heard someone talk about how we budget for groceries in a week as an analogy for choosing curriculum/ goal setting for the school year: you can’t afford every organic, grass fed etc product and you don’t make everything from scratch and grow your own everything because no one really had the time or budget. Similarly, we can’t “do it all” with our school year. We choose the things that matter most, buy some “prepackaged” stuff, cut a few nice but less important things, and we keep in mind that we have years, plural, to try things and learn things.
That idea has really given me a lot to think about and given me peace!