Early in September, my phone rang. A mom from a neighboring town introduced herself and told me about how she was having trouble with the public school. She was considering pulling her three daughters out of school and hoped I could help answer her questions.
She wanted my advice. If you know me, you know I’m not really an adviser. I’m more of a listener. And a sympathizer. My first instinct was to give her the number of my support group leader, a seasoned homeschool mom with an encouraging, uplifting spirit.
Ultimately, homeschooling can produce a variety of new challenges, from learning to be with each other day in and day out to added expenses for a family. Homeschooling can at times be expensive and there isn’t much in the way of financial resources to alleviate the burden. Note: If you live in Illinois, Minnesota, or Louisiana, there are tax credits available for homeschooling. Just make sure you check local and federal regulations before estimating your tax refund as new tax legislature is always showing up.
I tried to be as helpful as I could. I answered all of her questions. I listened to what she was going through. I shared my experience.
I didn’t tell her to pull her kids out of school immediately. I didn’t presume to know that homeschooling was the best choice for her and her family. I told her what we do on a day to day basis. I explained why we left the public school system. I shared that for me, making the decision to homeschool was more stressful than actually homeschooling.
It’s not a decision I made casually. And I don’t advise other people to pull their kids out of school and say well, if it doesn’t work out you can just send them back. I think holding on to that thought as an escape route will hinder you.
It’s true. You can send them back any time. But is taking them out of school and sending them back in a few months in their best interests?
So if you are new to homeschooling, my advice is this:
Learn to enjoy being with your children every single day.
It sounds simple, right?
- Have fun with them.
- Let go of the stress. Stress is harmful to the learning process.
- Observe your child playing and exploring and learning naturally.
- Connect with them. Make your relationship your top priority.
- Take your time finding the right learning approach for your child.
- Let them follow their interests as much as possible.
Now, I’ve only been doing this for around two years now. I don’t know that I’m qualified to give any advice at all. I simply know from experience that the more I relax and enjoy the little moments with my girls, the happier we all are. When I get all caught up in the schedule and doing things exactly by the book, we’re all miserable.
Enjoying the freedom of this lifestyle should be a joy. Recreating the school environment that we left behind is not joyful. We left it for a reason.
I came across this video filled with sound advice for those just starting out on their homeschooling journey. And it’s a great reminder for those that have been on this path for a while, but may have wandered off into the thick dark woods of musts and shoulds. I’ve been lost there myself.
What are your thoughts on this? What advice would you give to a new homeschooling parent?