7 Ways to Be Encouraged If You Are a Newbie Homeschooler

Recently, it seems I am meeting more and more people who are making a switch to homeschooling.  I recognize that dear-in-headlights look on their face and that what-am-I-getting-myself-into tremor in their voices.

I didn’t plan on being a homeschooler. But it is where God has led my family and has kept us thus far. I had in my head that I would just homeschool through second grade and send my kids on to public school, but here I am with my oldest starting third grade and my middle child starting kindergarten. And in spite of rocky beginnings, I enjoy homeschooling and have become passionate about it.

Anyways, since my brain is on homeschooling and I seem to have many friends just starting on this journey, I thought I would offer up the wisdom I have gained thus far in homeschooling. I hope it encourages you if you are just starting out. (Note: this isn’t my regular blog content. I have no plans on being a homeschooling blogger. But I am a writer who homeschools, and it's encouraging, so it sorta fits. Right? ;) Also, guys, I have a few posts written. {!!} I know! I am so excited to be writing again.)


1. No, you didn’t come with enough patience for it.

Signing up to homeschool is like signing up to always feel like you are coming up short: short on patience, short on time, short on energy. It’s almost like by homeschooling, you are choosing to be keenly aware of your need for Jesus’ grace every.single.day. But the thing is, we always DO need Jesus’ grace, and if you can see all the ways you are falling short as the places where you get to lean on your Savior, you and your kids will grow. I don’t know a single homeschooling mom that feels like she has enough patience to be a homeschooler, but I can promise you, by the end of the school year, you will assuredly have grown in patience.


2. Write a Homeschooling Manifesto. 

Regardless if you are the mom who is super excited or completely terrified to start homeschooling, at some point in the journey it will get difficult. There will be attitudes, there might be tears, and the days will feel simultaneously long and not long enough. Your house will get messy. You might even kick into survival mode, lose all the passion you started with, and find yourself ridiculously jealous of every single mom across America who can drop her kids off for a few hours. When you get to that place, it helps to remember why you started in the first place. Why are you homeschooling? Why does homeschooling seem like the best option for you and your child? I made a list of all my reasons before I started some four years ago. I still pull my list out about 2-3 times a year when I find myself extra weary. My reasons have inspired me to rethink our days and shove off some of the have-to’s in favor of the get-to’s. I am having Addy write her own reasons she likes homeschooling this year so I have her reasons to inspire me as well. 


3. Find people

Join a co-op. Create a monthly homeschooling moms’ dessert night. Participate in learning-center or charter-school enrichment classes. Find support from fellow homeschoolers. There is absolutely no need to join a homeschooling island where everyone who doesn’t homeschool is banned from your life. (Don’t do that.) But it is really good for both you and your kids to find the people whose lives look similar so that you can learn from one another, know you aren’t alone, take field trips and do projects together, and make the most out of homeschooling.   


4. Homeschooling will not look like traditional school.

You can’t make homeschooling look like traditional school, because it’s not. What works in a classroom won’t always work in your home. Your child will end up with different memories of school than kids in traditional school—not bad different; just different. In homeschooling, the lines between education and home blur and your home will become a learning environment even outside structured learning time. You won’t be both mom and teacher—juggling between the two roles. It’s that now mom means teacher also (and I would argue mom has meant teacher all along). You don’t need to stress about the lack of a “classroom” or how you would really rather not have educational posters in your dining room or how you have no clue how to stretch out your school time to six hours or if you should stand in front of a white board and teach. (And by the way, all of those things are possible, but certainly not necessary.)


5. Pick a curriculum that gets you and your kids excited about homeschool.

Um. Have you looked into curriculum yet? There are SOOOO many options. And it’s completely overwhelming that first year. It’s a great idea to check out the vendor tables at a homeschooling conference or ask a seasoned homeschooler if you can visit her house and see what she uses. But really, since you are the teacher and your child is the student, choose for the both of you. Pick the one that jumps out at you and looks like fun.

And one more bonus tip: If at all possible, try to get a full-grade package curriculum for your first year (meaning it has all the subjects all included). You certainly don’t have to, it’s just that the first year is overwhelming, and the number of curriculum options is daunting. Every year, you will feel more confident and will likely start to branch out into what fits you and your child best. But do yourself a favor that first year, keep it simple. (If you need a place to start: Sonlight, Bookshark, My Father’s World, and Bob Jones University Press. These all have full-grade packages that I or my closest friends have used and loved.)  


6. You aren’t deciding your whole life. You are deciding one year at a time.

When I first thought of homeschooling, I wanted to look way off down into the future, like I was deciding my whole life from when my oldest started kindergarten till my youngest graduated high school. And it was daunting. Can I gently submit this: it’s not only hard to look out that far ahead, it’s also presumptuous of us to pretend to know what God wants us to do ten years from now. Most schools and curricula work on a school-calendar- year span… treat this decision as a year decision and come back to it every year in the spring. You aren’t deciding your child’s whole life. You are deciding this year.


7. Here is what you say to everyone who asks you, “What about socialization?”

“You’re right. Somehow between the co-op classes, the enrichment classes, AWANA club on Wednesday nights, Sunday school, our community group, soccer team, karate, playing with neighbors, and spending time with family and friends, I forgot to take socialization into consideration.” Okay. Maybe don’t say that. I’m being snarky. But you get the idea. You will hear this. A lot. You might even feel worried about it yourself. Let this encourage you. You don’t have to live or homeschool on an island. Simply stay connected.


I’d love to hear from you! Is this your first year? Let me know so I can remember you in prayer. Or are you a seasoned homeschooler with anything to add to my list?


By Grace,

Amanda Conquers