Advice to the New Homeschooling Mom

Some things I wish I had known when I began homeschooling:

1) Put homeschooling first, for your kids sake

When I began homeschooling, I thought that I would somehow just add homeschool to my  already busy life. It didn’t take long to realize that is impossible. There are only so many hours in the day! I came to the realization that in order to give my children a good education, it would have to be my first concern during “school hours.” I had to commit to the priority of educating my kids. I had to turn off the phone, avoid interruptions, and focus on my children—a very joyful occupation!

2) Consider patience as a wonderful virtue homeschooling teaches

As a new homeschooler, I was excited and wanted to tell everyone about my happy new discovery! People seemed to respond to the subject of homeschooling by commenting that they didn’t have the patience for it.  That puzzled me some, as I didn’t suggest that they homeschool, but just wanted to share my own enthusiasm.  A thought began to form in my head whenever I heard a response of “I don’t have patientce.”  When would I really learn patience, if not now?  If I am striving to have a happy family, it seems like a good idea to begin right now. Patience is a skill developed through practice and homeschooling—being with your children daily, gives you lots of practice.

3) Realize you are your child’s best teacher

It’s a good idea to abandon too-difficult learning tasks until the child is more ready, avoiding trying both of our patience!  Organization and preparation will really diffuse a lot of problems. Even with your best effort, sometimes you’ll have a difficult child.  In that case,  it really helps me to think: “If I feel annoyed— I, who love this child so much, who have his future and well being at heart— how would a school teacher feel? I have a vested interest, he is better off with me.”

4) Routine is incredibly helpful because everyone knows what to expect.

Get organized. We have an opening exercise that begins with a pledge, patriotic song, prayer, fun oral quizzing, and me reading aloud. It feels secure to my children to have school start with the same pattern every day. I don’t try to do every subject every day, nor do I think it is wise to break a child’s concentration by changing subjects every 30 minutes. That is not the way you and I enjoy learning. We would rather pursue our interests uninterrupted until our curiosity is satisfied. If you keep getting interrupted, you begin to wonder if it is worth starting anything interesting.

5) Set some ground rules

Some of ours are:

  • -All work must be done before play.
  • -Doing your best is required.
  • -Sloppy work must be redone.
  • -A cheerful, helpful, willing attitude is the most important thing you can bring to homeschool.
  • -Don’t interrupt while Mom is working with another child. Go on to something else if you’re stuck and Mom is not available.

6) Learning to obey is one of the most important lessons your child will learn in homeschool

Obedience is a hard lesson for all of us, and yet an undisciplined person is not as useful to anyone—not himself, others nor God. Learning to be the master of your own self (self-control) begins by learning to obey your parents. Homeschooling, unfortunately and fortunately, compels us to come to grips with the issue: who is in charge? God gave parents the responsibility to train their children, and part of that training is to be obedient to parents. I tend to be overly tender towards my children, as many mothers are, but children learn best when we are consistent in helping them mind us.  I do think you need to listen and make allowances. Sometimes children are truly tired and need a break or a change of program but repeated choruses of “I don’t want to do my schoolwork”  can undermine your efforts.

7) Education comes in many forms

Flexibility is so important! We drop everything if there is a sunny day in winter and go hiking by the river instead. There is a lot to be learned from visiting the neighbor horse’s new foal. Working on an Eagle Scout project, a 4-H project, baking or sewing, watching birds make a nest— are all very valid learning experiences.

8) Be gentle as your children adjust

If you are just coming out of the public school system, expect a detoxification period. Usually kids are pretty burned out by the regimentation and busywork routine of school. When I brought my children home, my 5th grader could be turned into tears instantly by the thought of reading. I finally decided to totally forget reading for awhile (for that child) and just read aloud to all the children so he could begin to enjoy reading again. Within a year, he was an avid reader who really couldn’t remember ever hating it.

9) Slow and steady

Choose your activities wisely. You can’t do everything! Field trips can be fun, educational . . . and sometimes overly exhausting. Some homeschool moms seem to try to make up for the lack of public school activities by setting up a dizzying round of choir, soccer, scouts, art, gymnastics, etc. . . . rush, rush, too much time driving here and there. We brought them home because we wanted them home and near us. Remember?

One trip that we do deem important is a regular trip to the public library. I ask each child to consider what they want to learn about and make a list. Once in the library, we go to the computer and get the titles and numbers so each child can get their own stack of interesting nonfiction and fiction reading. I think a child could get alot of his education via the library, just following his interests!

10) Don’t rush into buying lots of curriculum

What to buy first? As a new homeschooler I think I made up for lack of confidence with stacks of books. Now, I try to encourage new homeschoolers to begin with the very basic necessities: a journal, Bible, a hymnbook or songbook, a good phonics program, a language arts program and a math program. Basically, that is all you need. There is so much on the market that really can make homeschool easier and more enjoyable but you can also use library books for reading, history, science, health, etc. and buy other things you may want as you have the money. Take care to choose carefully at the library. Not everything at the library’ is worthy of reading! As your first year progresses, you will see what is working and be able to buy the things that are best for your children.

Enjoy the journey! Homeschooling  is a wonderful lifestyle!

Comments

  1. I have a question I am hoping you will be able to answer for me very soon, no pressure..lol I was planning on homeschooling my kids next yr for personal reasons but I feel it would be better for one of them to be taken out now, although there is only about 2 months of school left…Is that even possible and if it is, which I think it is, what can I do to make sure he finishes this grade b4 starting next yr,,He is in 7th grade right now and I would hate to have to start him in 7th grade again..please help!
    Thank you!

    • Definitely take your son out now if you feel it is best for him. I trust a mother’s intuition the most. When you withdraw him, request his textbooks and just finish up the year’s work at home. You are entitled to the supplies (you paid taxes) and you can return them when he is finished. It won’t be that difficult, probably easier since he can go at his own pace. My biggest concern is that he has homeschooled friends. That can make or break your endeavor. He can’t just “solo’ alone. So congratulate yourself on your decision and then find some homeschool group to join so your 7th grader will get to go to activities with others that homeschool. Let me know how it goes!

  2. I have a 17 and 15 year old who I would like to pull out of school and home school. Is it too late. The school they attend has become so un disciplined and the grading system leaves the child repeating classes that the parent has to pay for. I have always wanted to home school but my children felt they would miss out on socializing with other children.

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      No, it isn’t too late, as long as they are excited about it too! Teens do great in homeschool, can be self-teaching and accomplish a lot. There are lots of online opportunities, community classes, open coursework from college websites, etc. You will have to make sure they have opportunities to socialize. Find a homeschool group with teens and they should have plenty. You might also consider having them do homeschooling with 1-2 classes in their current school, so they keep their current friends. If they have special interests, they can get involved that way. My daughter plays blue grass fiddle and enjoys the local fiddling group (all ages). Best success!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing with us new to be homeschool mom’s. Reading your guide has not only answered most of my questions, but given me a big dose of confidence that i really am on the right track.

  4. Can you give me a little more direction on curriculum? I’m new to homeschooling, I have a gifted 7th grader who just doesn’t fit/learn well in the public system. I know there are different styles, programs, etc. how to decide? Thanks!

    • Diane Hopkins says:

      Please come to my store: http://www.lovetolearn.net
      You can see the books and resources I recommend in the 7th and 8th grade curriculum kit. There are many things to choose from if your child is gifted and needs more of a challenge than the 7th grade level. Yes, there are many different styles and programs. I have homeschooled for 28 years now, and have tried many of them and have settled on what I feel works best. I would love to help you find a good program for your student. Homeschooling opens so many opportunities to gifted children! I know you’ll enjoy it!
      ;0 ) Diane Hopkins

  5. hello I have many questions for you, to kind of give you an ideal of who we are first, I am 57 years old single parent of recently adopted grandchild 14 yrs old,who has various issues, he has been attending a behavioral school for two years and he hates it, I have decided to home school him on line, but found out because i know very little about computers which I never liked thought that it would be better for him than all the distractions in school. I decided tonite after wanting to throw the computer out the window that maybe homeschooling would be a better option, Ihave plenty of patience and time.but little money,he has a 3rd grade Acamemic level, my question is Where do i start, I called one lady on the internet she said she would send me a homeschooling pkg. for 500. checks only. are there any state funded support groups, or does everything come out of my pocket, is there a good link to get help from,or am i pretty much on my own. thank you any advise would help

  6. Nancy Moffett says:

    Good morning, do you have any ideas or recommendations to help me with homeschooling my 15 year old male son. I do see so much out there and it is very expensive not that he is not worth I just would like a way that is affordable. Please help this new to homeschooling mother.

  7. I am in the beginning stages with my 3 year old to homeschool him. He started off great, he liked it and had fun for the first week. Now as we go into our third week he doesn’t want to start. I feel defeated even though we’ve only just begun. I do like teaching him. He knows his ABC’s, colors, numbers and shapes. He loves science experiments. I try to find those things and he enjoys crafts some times. I try to do letter themed weeks, but I don’t think they work for him. If every day could be train orientated he’d love it. So I was hoping for some wise information from someone who has taught many. Ty

  8. Hi Diane,

    My husband and I are seriously considering homeschooling our 1st grade daughter (who seems to need more time to develop than she is being given in public school) as well as our 3 yr. old son (who conversely already reads on a 2nd grade level). Our daughter is already at the 7th week of school. And although she “gets” her work, she seems to need a little bit more time to complete an assignment. Yet she can’t seem get that extra time and attention in school without being labeled as a slow learner or having her work marked incorrect. She is starting to express some disenchantment with learning; saying things like “I don’t want to go to second grade” or “I just want to stay at home today”. We don’t want her to grow a deep rooted dislike of learning. We’ve had conversations with her teachers, but they have state mandates to meet. We don’t want her to begin to think negatively of herself. Should we allow her to complete this year and then begin homeschooling or would it be ok to go ahead and pull her out of public school and begin the homeschooling journey now?

    Thanks so much

  9. I have a 7th grade boy that has been bullied so much that he has now become somewhat of a bully himself. He has been kicked out and I have tried to talk with someone there with no luck. I just want him to get an education without all of the issues so I am going to withdrawal him. I don’t know anything about homeschooling.
    I have no one to turn to please help. Where do I start?

  10. Kate Gammel says:

    Hi my name is Kate and Im currently a 9th grader in high school. And Ive been thinking about homeschooling because although i love my friends, i think i would feel more comfortable and able to focus at home. i was just wondering the main rules of it. Like do you do the same work you’d be doing at school at home?, what time do you wake up in the morning?, is a sport required?, what is the workload like during the day, and in one of your previous comments you said that students can still take some classes at school?

  11. I home schooled all three of my daughters. All are grown now. I have 5 grandchildren. I am considering schooling one of my 13 year old grandaughters. I home schooled back when no one did and blazed new trails. My oldest is 38 and my youngest is in college. Im “rusty” and a bit un easy. Do you have any advise for me? The choices overwhelm me and I have no idea where to start. We are both excited to do this. Her only concern is socialization but I think I took care of that concern. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

  12. Hi ! What would you recommend for a student who is finding reading difficult ? I have read to my son everyday since he was born. He loves books. He is very good with math and science. Also there are no homeschoolers where we live ? I’ve checked all sorts of online info. I’m concerned for his social interaction.

  13. hello. i am a dad of 3 children.my oldest daughter is wanting to be homeschooled and she says it is the most important thing in her life right now…lol…i also have a 10 yr old daughter that has decided to be homeschooled also…..my question is ……..my youngest is in the 3rd grade and my old gtr is in middle school (7th grade) is there a cost for each grade or can i get a packaged deal..as we live on a fixed income, and it gets tight around here from time to time?

  14. Hi,we are in South Africa, main language being Afrikaans, any sugestions if I considder homeschooling? I have been pondering over the idea for about a year now, but I am affraid that they would not get the papers they need to have to go into a job,but in the last year there has been so many changes (again) in the curriculum they are teaching at the schools, my kids are falling behind.(one is in Grade 5 and the other Grade 7 and I personally don’t think their reading skills are up to standard) and then I see the children going out of school these days can’t even spell (at the end of grade 12).I also want to thank you for your letters, advice and positive mindset,I already feel like I would be able to do it – still scared to try,but willing.
    thank you
    Linda

  15. I am going to be a first time home school dad. I see you said “home school group” above. How would one go about finding one?

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