Written by Amida of Journey Into Unschooling
Ready to rise from the ranks of a newbie homeschooler to a genuine pro?
While I don’t guarantee overnight success, I can offer a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.
Three R’s to Successful Homeschooling
1. Redefine yourself.
Classical, Eclectic, Unschooler… Whatever you call yourself, don’t let the standard definitions confine you.
Just because I blog about our “Journey Into Unschooling” doesn’t mean I never break out the worksheets or <gasp> refer to a textbook. We use whatever feels right at the moment, regardless of how a true “unschooler” is supposed to learn.
Flexibility is the homeschooler’s middle name.
2. Remind yourself of your goal.
For whatever reason, we all stumbled upon homeschooling as the best way to educate our children. The road is long though, and many times, we go into autopilot and forget why we do what we do.
Don’t fall asleep at the wheel! Just like any long drive, we need a break. We need to stop and refuel, refresh, and refocus ourselves. We need to remind ourselves why we are even on this journey to begin with.
At these breaks, I like a refresher course on some of my favorite articles and books on homeschooling. It never fails to put the fire back into me and remind me it’s not about completing assignment #119. Here are some of my personal favorites:
Teach Your Own by John Holt
Homeschooling For Excellence by David and Micki Colfax
Guerrila Learning by Grace Llewellyn
Dumbing Us Down by John Gatto
Last Child In The Woods by Richard Louv
This is a good one for all aspects of life, and is especially useful for the homeschooling educator. If you ever find yourself stressing out or worrying about whether you are ruining your children’s futures, just take deep breath and relax. Most of us don’t work well under pressure. Rather than making it miserable for all involved, let the kids play.
Missing a couple of days (or even a week) of school for the sake of recharging isn’t going to set your kids back. After playing Monopoly five days in a row, they might even welcome the math, or gain a new understanding of a concept they’ve been stuck on. If not, at least the break would have help you regain some sanity. Tomorrow is always a new day.
The opportunity to homeschool our children is a privilege not everyone can have. Take the time to remind yourself how lucky you are and everyone will benefit from this special time together.
What advice can you give to the newbie homeschooler?
Angela @ Homegrown Mom
I wish I could go back and tell my newbie self to relax! I am still learning 🙂
Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: I’m Sad- but Strangely Relieved
Wonderful advice. I’m adding the books to my interlibrary loan list, too, after years of reading about them but never reading them in full. Thanks for the great reminders!
Alicia’s latest post: Trying to limit kids screentime Kitchen table busywork to the rescue
good advice for a newbie like me :).
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I Live in an Antbed
Pray for a mentor who is several miles down this road ahead of you. This mentor should be one who is mature and wise and who is seeing real fruit produced in her children and herself in the process. I was blessed with such a mentor, and it made all the difference. I am still at it after 18 years!! But the Lord used her to help me build a solid foundation for our homeschool.
I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: Why Blog
Amida, this is great advice. I think homeschooling “like a pro” is often about how confident we feel in the style of home education we choose, because we’ve defined our goals and are moving forward in those.
In addition, we undermine our confidence and ability to shine (lowering our professionalism, if you like) when we keep comparing ourselves to others, which is very easy for homeschoolers to do since we are often looking (rightly so) for inspiration and encouragement.
I’m learning I simply cannot compare myself to other homeschooling moms and this helps me feel more “professional” in my calling as mother and teacher to my own children.
My advice is “it is okay to use something that is already scheduled” especially if you are like me and feel as if you should be able to plan out this fabulous course of study but can’t seem to actually do it. Since switching to a curriculum with an included schedule and texts in Language Arts that are divided by days, I feel like school is more managable. I actually feel better about skipping things because I “know” what I am skipping. Otherwise I am overwhelmed with choices.
Kara @Simple Kids
Great reminders, Amida! Especially number 3 – yes, relax and take the pressure to be “perfect” at this away.
“Whatever you call yourself, don’t let the standard definitions confine you. ” LOVE this! Great advice! 🙂
Kara @Simple Kids’s latest post: The Sibling Relationship- Challenging but Powerful
OR….don’t homeschool like a pro! Be an amateur- which means someone who does something for the LOVE of it (and our family) not the money… 🙂
priest’s wife’s latest post: Wordless Wednesday- Smile!
thank you for the beautiful inspiration. Permission to not define who we are and what we are doing is important, especially in a world that struggles to keep everything compartmentalized. Change is good. Also number three goes for everyone, including parents:)
kim’s latest post: Hold on to 16…
R.E.L.A.X. This is our eighth year homeschooling and I an finally getting it!!! So what if our spring break is a week or two later… so what if we spend an entire day learning about a great artist instead of doing workbooks – it isn’t everyday and let’s face it… even when we do nothing our kids are learning and teaching us so much!!!
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Trevor @ Tootlee
It seems too easy for us homeschoolers to forget that we have a lot of freedom and flexibility. There is no perfect way to educate our kids. Life is organic, ever changing, never static and above all unpredictable. Just when we think we have it figured out, something changes.
I like the reminder that it’s okay to just take some time off and recharge if need be.
Trevor @ Tootlee’s latest post: Joseph Machado- From Wheelchair to Biking Across America
Great advice for newbies! And us veterans’ too. My mind still runs off with me sometimes even after 10 years but I know who we are as home schoolers and I am seeing the fruit in our children which spurs us on… The mention of breaks, and finding new inspiration is key. Some of the books you mentioned are on our shelves too!
Great I deas….I also love dropping in on you at your blog and seeing all the fun things you guys are doing. I just love the little guy flying across the galaxy such a great picture of discovery and adventure. I like what you said here about not defining ourselves. I am a classical educator mostly because I love the content and the idea of following the growing and changing of the child’s mind, but I also drop in alot of unschoolers blogs seeing how to keep our school full of discovery and freedom. This year I have decided to relax a bit and allow the boys to pick the books they want to read when they want to read them from a selection of books on our shelf. For history I will tie them together with a map and a timeline so we can see where each story fits into the chronological scope of things. I let the boys choose their books at the end of last year and found such a renewed sense of interest on their part. When I chose books and put them all in order for the topic etc they hardly ever purused the bookshelf on their free time. However when they were picking the books, they read books all day. I am a great fan of John holt and recently books by Nancy Wallace, she wrote Better than School and a Child’s Work. Both books really help me to see the child’s mind working and know when not to interfere and when to provide help or structure.
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