By Beverly S. Krueger, senior editor Eclectic Homeschool Online
Beginning homeschoolers are often inundated with advice, suggestions, and possibilities. The process of selecting curriculum can be overwhelming all by itself. If you could just ask experienced homeschoolers, not what they use but the kind of questions that could help you sort out all the advice a beginner's life would be so much easier. We've done that for you. We addressed three questions to the experienced homeschoolers on our EclecticHS email list. We've compiled their thoughtful responses and offer them here.
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you when you started homeschooling?
"I knew that it would be a full time job, but I wish someone would have told me that to begin, it is best to get your house in order first. It really helped me a lot when I finally got a routine down about what I cooked for dinner on a regular basis, how I kept the house clean on a regular basis, that kind of thing. I have just gotten these things down this year, and my life is a lot easier. I also completely decluttered the entire house, and that has helped tremendously. I owe a lot of the inspiration for this change in our homeschooling to Victoria Moran's book, Shelter for the Spirit. She was a single mom homeschooling her daughter at the time that she wrote the book, so I knew that she would know what it meant to really LIVE in your home! I highly recommend that book to everyone." Rachael
"I wish someone had told me how hard it would be to live life and get school done. Sometimes it feels like school is all we do." Terry
"To relax ... homeschooling doesn't necessarily have to mean school at home." Kathy
"To start slow. Don't rush into anything at first. I started homeschooling my kids after they had been in public school for a few years (one was 8th grade). Take time to relax in the beginning. It was explained about how long it would take to de-public school my kids, but no one ever said how to handle the schooling in the meantime." Cathy
[Editor's Note: A great resource for what to do while deschooling is Barb Shelton's Decided to (Re)Start Homeschooling? section of articles.]
"Do not underestimate how quickly time will fly. He may be a first grader today, but he really will graduate "tomorrow" (it'll seem that way anyway) and you'll have regrets about what you've done and not done if you don't keep that in mind." Tammy
What is the one most important piece of advice you received when you began homeschooling?
"In response to my concerns about my inadequacies (lack of patience primarily), a lovely Christian mom said "It's great that you are aware of those issues. Commit them to God and trust in His grace for those areas." Homeschooling has deepened my walk with Christ and enriched my life as a parent. It's awesome." Billie Jo
"Remember that it doesn't take as much time to school at home as it does a whole classroom of children. We do five different grade levels in five hours a day." Terry
"Take full advantage of the homeschool environment and count life learning with as much importance as book learning." Kathy
"Enjoy what you are doing with your kids. Have fun and play with the subjects finding out what the best way to teach them and yourself for being the teacher." Cathy
"Me, give only one? HAH!
1. Consider the first year to be practice.
2. Don't buy it until you need it.
3. No teacher ever finished the book." Tammy
"Two things that I was told have stuck with me "Better late than early" (in other words they will get it eventually, so let them take their time) and "Start homeschooling form the beginning". I am grateful for that advice, and I think we are all better off for it." Rachael
What advice did you ignore when you first started homeschooling, but now wish you hadn't ignored it?
"Stay organized from the very beginning. The paper can multiply exponentially and before you know it your are drowning in a sea of worksheets and forms. Sadly, it took me two years to really implement this. I didn't notice the problem when I first started because I was only homeschooling one .. but once I doubled the kids, the paper doubled. I still take one week a year to weed out all of the old papers and forms that I accumulate. After 8 years and four kids, even the most stringent weeding still leaves me with a large amount of stuff that I have to keep for at least two years at a time for portfolio purposes." Kathy
"Keeping records. It is so important to keep them. I didn't want my son to go back to public school and wasn't too worried about it (in our state you don't have to keep records). He ended up going back in 10th grade, and I needed to have records for him so he could graduate with the rest of his class." Cathy
"Homeschooling is not school at home. We set up a school room, said the pledge, the whole nine yards....for about a month. After that reality set in and my only return on the schoolroom money I spent came from reselling the school desks to new homeschoolers who were as convinced of the need for a school room as I had been.&" Tammy
"To set up a daily schedule. We have finally admitted as a family that this works for us, and our lives are a little more simple for it.
I also wished that we had started our support group sooner, (Hindsight is 20/20!) instead of trying to make another group work for us for so long that never really suited our needs." Rachael
"Let them learn to read at their own pace, and incorporate unit studies into your curriculum for Social Studies and Science." Terry
Contributors to this article included: Billie JO Youmans,Oxford, NY; Tammy Cardwell, Baytown, TX; Cathy G.; Kathy Martinez, Florida; Terry, Pennsylvania; Rachael La Rock Whaley, St. Louis,Missouri.
Beverly Krueger is Senior Editor of the Eclectic Homeschool Online and EHO Lite. She also blogs regularly at HS Blog.