Written by Jamie C. Martin
They say that hindsight is 20/20, don’t they?
Well, it’s been over eleven years since my family took our first timid step on this homeschooling path, and incredibly, it’s still the path we’re on. I look back with few regrets, grateful for all the imperfect choices we made that led us here.
However, my decade of experience has also given me perspective, and there are five things I might do differently if I could go back to those very early years.
I wanted to share them with you today:
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1 – I would read aloud LESS.
This sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Everyone knows reading aloud is THE thing you do to form lifelong learners. I completely agree.
Yet I know now that it isn’t the amount of reading aloud as much as the habit that matters.
Back then I had internet envy each time I saw a post about someone reading to their kids for HOURS, their littles begging for more. Meanwhile mine might not have made it through one picture book before starting to argue. Those days I felt like a failure.
But guess what? It was still plenty. All three of my teens are avid readers (via print and/or audio), who recently began to tackle this 1,200 page history tome.
Moms of littles, cut yourselves some slack when it comes to reading aloud.
2 – I would use screen time MORE.
We have been slow adopters of tech for our kids when it comes to phones, internet access, and social media, and that has been the right decision for us.
But when my children were younger, I was so worried about their relationship with screens that I didn’t give myself enough grace.
Here are a few ways I would go back and use screen time more:
- allowing them a limited time (15-30 min/day) on certain educational apps–like Reading Eggs
- letting them watch more educational shows or movies on days when we really needed it (2 hours or more on hard days, sick days, husband travel days, etc.)
In hindsight I see that with the right boundaries in place and a strong family culture, kids can easily grow up with screens and not be addicted.
3 – I would start copywork earlier.
Copywork is the practice of copying quotes, sentences, or Bible verses, which helps a student improve their handwriting and spelling from a young age. As a family who practices mainly interest-led learning, there were plenty of times when I agonized over my children’s writing ability.
Copywork, even just one sentence a day, is a small, positive habit that yields great rewards, so I wish I would have started it earlier.
4 – I would pay attention to the academic objectives that kept me up at night.
I was initially drawn to homeschooling because I wanted my young children to love learning, and I saw how the traditional system’s forced requirements often stamped that love out of kids.
My theory was that if my children maintained their love of learning it would eventually make my job easier, as I wouldn’t have to prod them through their entire education. That theory held true, and it’s incredible to have teens who still love learning!
There were times when it really troubled me that a child hadn’t reached a specific academic milestone by a certain age, but I didn’t do anything about it. I feared that putting even small requirements in place would kill love of learning forever, so I ignored my own concerns.
I’ve learned, however, that a child’s love of learning is resilient, and paying attention to my own concerns would not have damaged them. Looking back, I would have used intentional bribery more (see point #4 of this post) to ensure that any minor skills that kept me up at night would be addressed, because here’s the truth:
How you feel about your homeschool matters just as much as how your kids feel about it.
You deserve to be at peace as much as your kids deserve a love of learning.
5 – I would pay attention to my own personality’s needs.
The number of years I pushed myself WAY beyond my natural limits are too many to count. I put ridiculous expectations on myself of how much I needed to do, of who I needed to be.
This is why I wrote my book, Introverted Mom, with hope that other introverted women would understand and honor their uniqueness at an earlier stage in the game–and to see the response of mothers telling me their lives have been deeply changed by it has been such a gift.
Now during homeschool days I take a short mid-morning break as well as a lunch break, and I make sure that our homeschool days end at 3pm no matter what.
I needed these breaks and boundaries all along, and I see how they make me a better, more patient mom the whole day through.
After over a decade of homeschooling, I’m amazed that I can only pinpoint five things I’d change if given the chance.
It’s been an adventurous journey, a wild rollercoaster at times, yes, but I’m still overwhelmingly grateful to have stayed on for the ride.
To think about: What would you do differently if you could go back to the beginning of your homeschool journey?