Don't get me wrong, we still love it, but its not new nor always wonderful. It is life. Although I'm sure in three months from now, I will have a whole new plethora of things I have learned, this is what I wanted to share about what I learned personally my first three months as a home educator. I'm sure I could have written 500!
1. Tone of Voice is Everything
My daughter is a sweet, tender-hearted child who loves praise. Unfortunately, just as she soaks up positive energy, she is sensitive to my moods and feelings even when they are negative. There have been very few tears, even when she is frustrated, but the moment I even let a little of my frustration peek trough in my voice, she is a puddle, convinced I think she is stupid.
That could be furthest from the truth, but I think as parents, we do not realize the impact our own frustrations have on a child. The unconscious message we are sending to our child when our voice is tired, ragged, defeated, frustrated. It may have nothing to do with them, but they only know that they are not getting it and mom (or dad) is discouraged, it must be their fault.
2. Be Flexible
I am a planner, and I tried planning for the whole year, changing it about five times, before I finally threw away the planner and decided to plan two weeks at a time. That way, when we get behind or ahead, I do not have to scribble/erase/rewrite anything more in the already messy planner with a tentative goal sheet that tells me what lessons I should be on for each week in order to get done with so we do not get too far off track. Maybe I will find even this is not flexible enough!
The thing is, to most efficiently educate our children to their own personal needs we need to be willing to toss the planner in the trash. The beauty of homeschooling is we go at our child's speed not the speed of the middle group of kids in a class of thirty. We can slow down when they need us to, speed up when things get boring, and we should too! We want our children to love school! We want them to be lifetime learners, and if we force them at a speed not comfortable for them, they will assume learning is supposed to be uncomfortable. Well, it does not have to be!
3. Listen to More Experienced Homeschool Moms (and help the less experienced)
I believe that women are meant to work as a community. We are social by nature, and we love getting together. God did not design us this way, so that we would gossip and complain, but in order for us to be be cheerleaders for those that need it, and allow others to lift us up, when we need it as well.
Many areas have a homeschooling support group. If your area does not have one, find one on facebook. There are a lot out there! Ask questions or read the responses of questions already asked. The greatest help I have found, was listening to those who have been here before.
4. My Outgoing, Social Popular Little Girl Really Does Prefer Homeschooling Over Public School
I had it in my head that my daughter would hate homeschooling after the novelty of it wore off. She is outgoing, social, and how was I possibly going to keep her well socialized not at school!?!? Okay, I was not really worried about that, but I really did believe that she would prefer the public school setting, since she is a social butterfly. I have asked her time and time again, and she confirms that home is the place for her to learn. There is less drama, she learns more, and she even feels she sees her friends more. We do make a conscious effort to make sure that she is involved in sports, activities, has friends over, and she even attends classes at a local homeschool co-op. She loves it and she is happier. It may not be for everyone, but do not assume just because your child is super social that homeschooling is not an option for your family.
5. You Don't Need As Much Curriculum as It Seems Like You Will Need
So I completely overbought curriculum. We are only using about half of what I purchased. When I looked at the stuff, I was convinced that she needed fillers and such. I would see this and that, get excited, purchase. Unfortunately, when it came time to teach, much of those fillers disappeared and I discovered they were unnecessary and impractical. After talking to other moms, I realized I was not alone. Apparently it is a common mistake to make. So if you are starting out, be frugal. As I recently heard in a homeschool mom's bible study I attend, they say you will waste money, and you will waste time. Expect it.
As I try to stop at five things I've learned, it's hard not to continue with all the knowledge, life lessons, and experiences I have had. I know without a shadow of a doubt, this was what our family needed to do. It was scary, I was worried about other's opinions, but man, am I happy I took that step! I would love to hear wisdom from others more experienced, and road blocks of those who are just starting out. Man, has it been a journey. An exciting, rewarding, exhausting journey!