Becoming a Homeschool Mom
I started homeschooling in 1998. Yes, that means I’ve been homeschooling for nearly 20 years. I don’t even remember how I heard about homeschooling. I didn’t know anyone who was doing it. I just knew that when I began to think about putting my son in kindergarten I distinctly felt that I should look into other options. So I did. And I found homeschooling. And I’ve never looked back. But how do you become a homeschool mom? How do you begin? Let me briefly share my journey with you.
I started homeschooling in California. At the time, a homeschool had to set itself up as a private school, filling out the proper forms and filing them with the state. I did so. It’s important to comply with the laws in your state.
Next, I had to figure out how I was going to teach my child. I decided to begin our homeschool journey using the Unit Study approach. My son could learn at his own pace and delve into the topics he loved for as long as his interest held him. One month we studied dinosaurs for an entire month! This worked well for us for a while. As my kids got older we changed curriculum and approaches many, many times—sometimes mid-year. You gotta do what works, and sometimes what worked a month ago just doesn’t work anymore! It’s not a sign of failure, it’s a sign of growth!
The next biggest concern on my mind was a social group for my son (and other children). I searched online and found a group that met for park days nearby on a weekly basis. We quickly joined this group and my kids looked forward to these play dates. It was nice to have other moms to talk to who were doing the same thing as I was. Support is very helpful! With social media, and the increased popularity of homeschooling, it’s quite easy now days to find a homeschool group in your area to join. Use Facebook and Google to help.
I also took advantage of any workshops or presentations that came anywhere within an hour of my home to learn and grow, not only in my own education, but how to best educate my children. I was always looking for inspiration. Now days you can hire homeschool coaches and get inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. There really are so many resources available that weren’t readily available to me when I started.
During all this I actually started homeschooling. I started when my oldest was 4-years-old, kind of a trial run to “see if I could do it”. And I loved it! He really flourished in the homeschool setting so I dove in and kept going. I have very fond memories of those early years, creating projects, playing outdoors, reading together, gardening, crafting, doing service projects, dancing. But there were also challenges, like grocery shopping. My kids hated it, and I ALWAYS had to take them, so I hated it because they were miserable while I was doing it. I also never got to go to the fabric store alone, or anywhere alone for that matter. So, I made nap time a sacred space for me. When they stopped napping it became quiet time–a specified amount of quiet play in their rooms while I retreated, caught up on reading, wrote songs and generally fed my soul. This is what really saved me! As they got older they started doing their own thing. I took them to LOTS of homeschool classes, they also did some classes at the public school. As their interests developed it was easier to take time for myself while they worked on their own projects.
Now to address some common concerns:
- You may wonder if you have enough patience to homeschool. The truth is, some days you will and some days you won’t, but your level of patience WILL grow over time. I know of no better training for the attribute of patience than homeschooling! The upside is, YOU are in control of your schedule. If you’re going to have a breakdown, take a day off! You can make it up somewhere else in the year. Or, take a field trip, change it up. There are lots of ways to give yourself a break while still educating your kids.
- You may worry that you’re going to mess up your kids. You will. Every parent does. That’s the human legacy. And it was bound to happen whether you homeschooled or not.
- You may worry that your kids won’t be dynamos, or excel, and then you’ll feel like a failure. It’s okay to raise children who are not overachievers. It’s okay to raise kids who graduate by taking the GED. It’s okay to have a child who does average work in school. It doesn’t mean you somehow failed! There are billions of kids in this world who do average school work. Take the pressure off of yourself and give your child the room to be who they are. Chances are they would have the same level of interest in learning (or less) in a public-school setting.
- You may worry that your kids will miss something if you teach them. They will. But they will do that in public school too. Every person on this planet has gaps in their education. No one knows everything! So don’t worry about it. If you’re super worried about it use a canned curriculum so that you hit all the points of a prescribed public school education, or use an online school. Use what will make you most comfortable.
In summary, I have a 23-year-old, a 21-year-old, and one still homeschooling. Both of my older kids took the GED, they both got into college. They both have jobs. They both live on their own and take care of all their own needs financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and educationally. They are competent adults who have integrity and know how to achieve goals. And they know how to learn. They are forging their paths in this world with no expectation or pressure from me. They feel free to be who they want to be. And I’m proud of them. Sure, they’ve done some amazing things along the way, but it’s not because of anything I did. That’s just who they are. They wanted something so they went for it, and reaped the rewards. Did I do everything perfectly? Heck no!! In fact, I homeschooled under very difficult circumstances for many years. I look back and wish I had done many things differently. But I love who my kids are! And I gave them everything I could with the knowledge and resources I had available to me at the time. That’s really all we can do. And in the end, your love for your kids, and your sacrifice to homeschool them, will give them a unique educational experience that cannot be duplicated in a classroom. You will be there to make sure they learn the way that’s best for them. You’ll be there to get them any help they need. You’ll be there to see their emerging talents and interests, and foster them. You will get to play a bigger part in their lives than most moms get to play. And that, my friend, is a priceless gift. The time we have with our children is short. Enjoy this journey you’ve chosen. It is beautiful.
Basic steps to becoming a homeschool mom:
1). Comply with the laws in your state. Fill out the proper paperwork and file it with the proper authorities. Check into any legalities, such as how many days a year your state requires schooling, what subjects are required, if testing is required, etc. Find out the homeschool laws in your state here.
2). Figure out what curriculum you’re going to use. Don’t worry if you need to change curriculum to meet your child’s changing needs. We have done just about everything out there, including creating our own curriculum from various sources. Ask other homeschoolers what has worked for them to help you narrow down your options. Also, consider your child’s learning style to choose the best curriculum for their needs.
3). Find a group of homeschoolers to meet the social needs of both your children and yourself! Support matters, especially when you’re new at this!
4). Attend homeschool conferences, presentations, and workshops to inspire you and bolster you on your journey.
5). Take care of yourself. Create a routine that allows time for you.
6). Trust the process. You got this!