"Children do not need to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them." John Holt
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10 Things I Wish Some One Would Have Told Me When I Started Homeschooling
If I could write my younger less experienced self a letter 9 years ago when I first started along this Homeschooling Journey I think it would have went something like this:
Dear Younger, Unconfident Less Than Perfect Mom,
I know you are super excited to begin your first year of homeschooling. Your like a first year teacher all giddy with her cute little posters on the wall and pencils sharpened to the max, envisioning your smiling can't wait to learn perfectly dressed children sitting in their little desks with their little hands folded. "Good Morning, Ms. Mom". All that I can say i, let me open this window for you and let out some of these Sharpie fumes you must be inhaling too much of because I am about to give you a reality check! Here are 10 things I want you to know before you start:
1. Don't spend so much of your time and energy trying to defend your decision to Homeschool. Not everyone will agree with your decision, accept the fact that no matter how hard you try you will not get the validation you are looking for from most of these family members. However, in the end you will gain the respect from a few that thought you were crazy at first. Overall, just be confident in the fact that you are doing what you feel is best for your kids and that is all that matters.
2.Don't buy every piece of curriculum or cute workbook that you find on sale or at a yard sale. You think you will use them all but most of them will just end up as clutter and find themselves on another thrift store shelf. Yes 10 cents for binders are a good price but 100 of them will only leave you frustrated with where to store them! You will soon figure out that all you really need is the library and the internet, and maybe a good printer. But be careful because I also wish you knew how fast those library fines add up when you lose a book or thought they were due a few days later.
3. Don't underestimate Dad. I know you feel like he's getting into the way YOU want to do things and all he wants to do is take over or go on Field Trips.But you'll soon figure out that Dad was the smart one. He had already figured out that the World was the kids classroom and he will get them interested in so many things. Exposure through Field Trips while the kids are young will get them much farther than reading them some boring textbook. Besides you'll soon figure out that taking the time to go outside to play is not goofying off and alot of times getting outside and breathing in some fresh air will keep you from yelling at a child who doesn't feel like doing math right now. Dad will also be your biggest cheerleader throughout the next few years so be nicer to him.
4. STOP comparing yourself to other Homeschoolers. You will never be that picture perfect homeschool family on the glossy magazine cover with the smiling mom who has everything in her home perfectly organized, all the kids schoolwork done and a homemade apple pie on the table. Don't get me wrong some days you will have it all together like that but most days you won't. Stop worrying about how other homeschoolers are doing things and find out what works for you and your kids.
5. Your home will never look like the cover of the one on Better Homes and Gardens as long as you are homsechooling your kids. Heck, your home probably wouldn't look like because you have children. The people that own those homes probably never had to clean up science experiments off the table to set it, or had to clean up after kids who had the time of their life giving themselves and their puppies " mud baths" outside. Smile, and breathe. Put down the broom and play with the kids, you will enjoy your clean house all too soon when the kids have moved away.
6. Teaching kids how to teach themselves is important above all. No matter where you get your education there will always be a few gaps. Don't try to make them into little geniuses or teach them everything you think the local 2nd grade is teaching, You can't possibly teach them everything so teach them how to use a dictionary, find a book by call number at the library and how to search things on the internet. That way when your child does want to learn something they know how. You will later be amazed at the things they teach you!
7. Home is not a "school". Learning takes place at all hours of the day ( AND night), not just from 8 til 3 on weekdays. Believe it or not it is ok to learn on the weekends. There is no need for a "classroom" to be set up. Your home is perfect just the way it is and your kids will learn so much of their "math" in the kitchen and their "science" in the backyard anyways.
8. Buy the kids GOOD quality art supplies. All of those cheap art kits look awesome and well put together but in the end your kids will end up frustrated because they really are cheap. Go to Hobby Lobby and buy them real art supplies, they are worth the few extra dollars. And yes, there will be days when you question weather having all of these art supplies are worth it when you have to clean them up yet again but you will also find yourself smiling when you over hear your daughter's friend say that she has the cool mom because she always has markers!
9. Have Fun. Your kids will grow up all to soon so take the time to eat chocolate, watch movies, be silly, read lots of books out loud, dance in the rain. Your kids will become your best friends and long after this whole "schooling" thing is over you both will have wonderful memories of their childhood.
10. Unschooling is wonderful. Look it up. You played with it for years before learning it was much more than goofying off or skipping the workbook language lesson, is was a way of life. I wish you had known this from the beginning. Having children starts in the birthing room when you learn there is a time to push and a time to breathe. Go with the natural process of things and continue to pay attention and you will know when those times are. Trust yourself and your children. You couldn't stop them from learning if you wanted to.
Older, Wiser, Less Than Perfect Mom
I have been homeschooling my children for 9 years now and still learning every day, while all of these points are not for everyone, like I have said before we are all different I hope that you have found something that you can use along with you on your journey. And if the time ever comes where you need to drop it and pick up something new by all means do so. I have changed my thinking and philosophy on education many times until I found something that really worked and I believed in whole heartedly. I am sure you have made your share of mistakes but what parent hasn't, life is too short to live with regrets. I promise you that making the decision to homeschool or unschool your child will not be one of them!