14 years ago The Well-Trained Mind appeared in the local bookstore. I devoured it and started teaching my 4 year old to read. Thus began my homeschool journey.
Fast forward 14 wonderful years. My oldest is now 18 and attending a local college. My youngest is 4 himself and learning to read.
I’m halfway through my homeschooling years.
14 Homeschool Lessons Learned in 14 Years of Homeschooling
1. Read Aloud More
One point I wish is that I’d spent more time reading aloud to the children in a group setting. It’s amazing how much you and the children learn slowly reading through books.
Reading aloud also provides a bond as we enjoy the same book and discussions as a family. It’s a fun activity in the car, in the evenings, over lunch, and during our group time. Share great books with your children.
2. Counting to 10 Works
Children do not sit still. They do not appreciate their parents’ dedication. And children do not listen.
I can not tell you how many times I’ve counted to 10 before responding to my children’s antics, and I’ve never regretted taking the time to pause, count, consider, respond.
3. Just Keep Swimming
A homeschool does not progress smoothly. It’s full of bumps and frustrations. There are times you despair of your children ever minding their manners, much less becoming educated.
No matter how impossible it seems, don’t stop. Keep trying. Eventually children learn to mind their manners. They learn to read. Children do grow up.
4. Festina Lente
Along with the Dory’s idea of just keep swimming, it’s also important to keep Festina Lente in mind. Education can’t be rushed. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
That might seem trite, but it’s the truth. We’re educating our children over the course of 12 or more years. Just keep swimming and don’t rush the process.
5. Homeschooling Is not the Solution
Some families I’ve run across claim just by homeschooling all sorts of problems will be solved. Your kids will be awesomely educated. Your kids will be perfect.
Sorry, but homeschooling succeeds because the parents put time and effort into their children’s education and lives. Public schooling succeeds because the parents put time and effort into their children’s education and lives.
No matter what you choose, you’ll need to commit and put time and effort into your children. No one can do it for you.
Don’t choose homeschooling just because someone guaranteed it would solve all your problems. Choose it because that’s how you wish to invest in your children’s education and lives. Choose it because it’s the best choice for your family in the here and now.
Scholé, or restful learning, is a new concept I’ve run into while homeschooling. It’s the realization that we can’t teach our children everything. There will be gaps. But we, and what we teach, are enough.
There is value in time spent daydreaming outside. Value in curling up with a good book on a rainy day. Value in making an effort to choose the best and let the rest go.
Restful learning means we give our children time to simply be.
7. You Grow with Your Homeschool
Because of the one-on-one tutoring of my homeschool stule, my education has improved and grown with the children. I’ve reviewed rules of grammar and geometry, and delved into world history.
I’ve played with literature concepts I’d forgotten years ago. Homeschooling is a process through which parents learn just as much as the kids!
8. What Goes Around, Comes Around
We started with a group time to study history and science back when my oldest children were little. Story of the World was read. Science was learned. Experiments were attempted.
We had a blast. Then they grew up and I was put on bed rest with baby #5. The older kids learned to complete their schoolwork independently with a bit of help from me. Our homeschool changed.
Now the homeschool is morphing. Group time is starting up again. I have a little one gleefully absorbing every word and older kids who give the mandatory grumble but don’t truly complain.
We’ve gone full circle and returned to our beginnings!
9. Sometimes We Need a Break
Everyone needs a vacation sometimes, even homeschool moms. Taking a planned or unplanned week off can sometimes be just what you need to inspire yourself for the next phase of homeschooling.
Don’t feel guilty for taking a needed break. Enjoy it, dream about your perfect homeschool, and inspire yourself to begin again.
10. Solve One Problem at a Time
Don’t try to solve everything at once. Instead sit down, list your problems, and what needs to be done. Pick your top 1-3 items and concentrate on those. Trying to do it all will drive you insane. So pick your battles carefully.
My rule of thumb is one battle per child. One child may work on handwriting, another on diligence getting schoolwork finished, and a third on reading.
Remember, how do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
11. Apply Seat of Pants to Seat of Chair
While there are times we need a break, many times we need to apply a bit of discipline to our homeschool. Be wary of taking too many breaks.
If you do find yourself taking too many breaks, crack the whip, sit down, and make certain the homeschool happens. Apply seat of pants to seat of chair and get it done!
12. Be Adaptable
Life doesn’t happen as we plan. children end up gifted or with learning disabilities. Husbands get fired or find a new job. We move. Life happens.
When it does, we have to return to the drawing board and rethink how we homeschool. Assign a room, homeschool throughout the house, homeschool in the morning, homeschool in the afternoon.
We have to be adaptable.
13. Have a Plan and a Vision
That being said, it helps to have a plan and a vision of what type of education we want our children to receive. Do we want to read through great books together, memorize poetry, spend time outside?
Perhaps we want children who are well-versed with grammar and Latin, or who can actually read Latin like the classically educated men and women of yesterday. We need the vision to keep us on track during the hard and chaotic times.
14. Enjoy the Journey
Most importantly, enjoy the journey. Too soon your oldest child is 18 and talking about going to college in a different state.
Homeschooling may be hard. It may be difficult, but it’s also wonderful. Enjoy the journey because it ends too soon.
What is the most important homeschool lesson you have learned?