10 Things I've Learned After One Month of Homeschooling



We have successfully completed one month of homeschooling.

I hesitate to say successfully, because honestly, it still remains to be seen how successful we've been - and that is partly why I am writing this post.

Yes, I am a newby homeschool mom.

So, while I may not have any timeless words of deep wisdom for you, drawing on years of experience, I can share with with you things that I've learned during my first month of homeschooling.

And here's why I want to write this post:

I know from other areas of my life in which I feel I am an authority, that after years go by you sort of forget what the early days and months were like.

Hindsight isn't always 20/20.

So, I want to write this post while things are still fresh in me, and maybe it will encourage a mom out there who is just starting out like me.


10 Things I've Learned After One Month of Homeschooling


I started our first week off with the entire month of September planned out.

By Friday, I had ditched the rest of September and chose to go to weekly planning, because I quickly realized that my son moves quickly in some areas and slowly in others.

Also, I realized that in some subjects I hadn't planned very well.

I find weekly planning with roughly penciled in monthly plans works best for me.

Here are 10 other things I've learned this past month:

1. Give a few months for adjusting


This is why I choose not to refer to this month as "successful". In fact, I'm not really using any kind of measurement right now for how we're doing.

I have chosen to view this entire first quarter as an adjustment period to help us solidify what works and what doesn't.

Yes, I'm doing some testing in this period to help gauge advancement, and while I'm keeping these records, I'm not taking them at all to heart.

This is new for both of us - and we need time to figure it all out.

2. Don't be afraid to try different things


Immediately after the first week I discovered that monthly planning wasn't going to work for me.....right now.

But it may work for me later on.

Just like the science plans I had didn't work for us right off....but may later on.

Just like I tried a week of letting my son do more independent study....and it totally bombed. Here's what I'm not going to do:

I am not going to say "Mom fail!"

No, I didn't fail that week, and neither did he. We simply tried something that doesn't work - and that's okay.

It's not a failure, it's an education - and we learned something from it.

So, give yourself room and permission to use this adjustment period to try new things. They may fail, and that is 100% okay.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes and do it wrong sometimes.

Take notes, learn from the process, and then go and try other new things. You never know - you may stumble on something totally genius for your child that no one else does.

3. Listen to advice, but adjust it to work for you


I graduated from homeschool and am surrounded by moms who have homeschooled and who homeschool now.

I have really leaned in on their advice and encouragement.

But one thing I discovered right off is that some of it works for us and some of it doesn't.

That doesn't make the advice invalid, it just makes it a bad fit for our family.

A dear friend shared how she started off their day with math, because it helped to prepare their brain for learning.

I have learned that that we must start off with Croatian because that is his most challenging subject right now.

I have also learned that it's best to end with either math or science because these subjects are easier for him and he really enjoys them.

Listen to advice, try it out, but don't be afraid to say "That doesn't work for us".


4. Don't be afraid to throw out curriculum


Or at the very least skip parts of it.

I downloaded a free science curriculum - it is great and I love it. But here's the secret I haven't told anyone yet -- 

I'm not using it.

Yes - I wasted all that paper and ink on something I'm not using right now.

But I may use it later - so I refuse to throw it out.

But here's why I'm not mad at myself -- I'm still using the ideas I find it. They have been a great launching pad for other ideas I'm using for science.

So, the curriculum is an inspiration - and that is a win in my book!!

For other subjects, I've discovered lessons that either I don't think will be particularly useful or helpful in learning....or that I feel are a waste of time.

So, I skip them.

Maybe I'll come back later and cover them at another time....maybe not.

And this is 100% okay.

Just becomes someone thought it should be in the curriculum doesn't mean I'm obligated to cover it in class.

5. You don't have to keep up. Let your child learn at his or her own pace


While my child typically does well in math, he is still struggling in one area. 

We're using Math U See, which is a mastery-based curriculum, meaning we can't move on until he's mastered this one lesson.

And that's perfectly okay.

It's not about racing to the end of the book, it's about learning.

But what if at the end of 1st grade my son still hasn't completed Alpha?

Here's what I've learned: He doesn't have to complete Alpha by the end of 1st grade!

There is no "grade police" that is going to come to our house and make sure that he has completed all of the chosen 1st grade curriculum.

Just as there is no "grade police" that is going to come to our house in September of 2020 to make sure he starts with all 2nd grade curriculum.

So what if he's still doing Alpha in 2nd grade?

There is no sin in that - because the point is to learn, not to be at some arbitrary level at a certain age.

Don't be afraid to let them learn at their own pace. If they move slower in a subject, it doesn't mean they're not smart or they have a learning disability, it just means they're weaker in that particular subject.

And we all have "that one subject".

6. Try different areas in the house


When we got close to the first day of school, I assigned part of my 2-tier desk to my son and made it his.

He loves that desk - it's really the only place in the house that is specifically his - besides his bed.

But what I've discovered is that this area of the house has way too many distractions for him.

Concentration is already hard for him, and sitting at his desk just makes it even harder.

The best and easiest place for him to learn is at the table. He faces a white wall with no pictures, he has a clear learning space, free of anything not related to what we're doing at that particular time.

He is calmer and more attentive when he sits at the table.

And he uses his desk for crafts, or drawing - or playing with his toys at those times when he's wanting to be left alone.

7. Cut your child loose


The first week of school we began learning about the solar system for science; immediately we discovered that this was something that greatly interested him! 

My sister had given him a book about planets that he would look at for hours.

One day after school he asked to make Saturn.
I gave him some modeling clay and opened the book up to a picture of all of the planets in orbit -- and within a half-hour, he'd made models of all of the planets.

This was not a school assignment. In fact, our school day was over by that time.

But I learned a valuable lesson that day -- find what your child loves and then give them wings.

Cut them loose - because when you do, they will astound you with how far they can go with something that has captured their interest!



8. Make sure to have fun


If there is anything I've learned from my oldest being enrolled in a brick-and-mortar school, it is the value of having fun.

I've witnessed first hand how easy it is for a child to learn when learning is fun.

Sure, we all know that learning isn't always fun, and school must be taken seriously, but if the entire time we're standing over them with our ruler commanding them to get their nose in the book, we will kill any love of learning they may have.

But if we can make some fun of it, we will nurture life-long learners! 


9. But help your child know that it is serious


My son is the life of the party.

He loves nothing more than to make people laugh...like with his crazy and very....ummm..... interesting version of The Floss.

During this first month of school I've found this to be the most challenging battle.

Unlike most kids, he doesn't want to grow up. Encouraging him that he is now a "big boy" does nothing at all for him.

He will reply with, "But I don't want to be a big boy! I want to be little!!"

Truly, despite all of my years and experience in childcare, this utterly confounded me! What do you do with that? 

I have literally never met a kid who didn't want to be "big".

My oldest son was born thinking he was already grown up.

But this child is a real-life Peter Pan - a child who wants to remain a child.

And it presented problems when he approached school from a perspective of "fun and games". 

Things came to a head yesterday when I had to look him square in the eye and let him know that under no uncertain terms this was school and he would take it seriously or face consequences.

The today I have a very different child in my "school room".

Just because you homeschool doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken lightly. Education should never be taken lightly!


10. Learn all day long


Cooking? That's math and science

Folding laundry? That's Home Economics

Shopping? That's math

Church? That's Bible class

Nature walks? That's Social Studies

Caring for your pets? That's science

One of the unfortunate things brick-and-mortar schools have done is limit our idea of learning to a 5-6 hour time period Monday-Friday.

But what if we stopped thinking of school in time slots and started thinking of it as a life experience?

What if we found opportunities for learning all day long?

Even if your child does attend a brick-and-mortar school, it doesn't mean that you're not still in charge of their learning.

You are - and you should be. It's your role as their parent.

I have a child in a brick-and-mortar school and still consider myself their primary educator. We go over every subject nearly everyday together and I make it my responsibility to make sure that he learns every subject well.

And even still, we find times to make real life our school room!


Comments

  1. #5!!! It took me too long to realise that there are no grade police (although some nosy family members try to be!) who are checking that my son has learned a certain fact by a certain age ... I love the freedom of homeschooling to move at our own pace.

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    1. Yes!! What is about family quizzing the kids to see if they're keeping up? I don't get that at all! School should be about kids learning at their own pace - we preach individualism for adults, but expect kids to all be exactly the same. There is a lot of hypocrisy in that.

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