I’m getting ready to officially start my 17th year of homeschooling! I can hardly believe it. I have a senior, a 3rd grader, and twins in kindergarten…The senior is my first child to officially graduate from our homeschool (my oldest two kids graduated from public high school). Homeschooling has truly become our lifestyle…But I still remember how overwhelmed and scared I felt 17 years ago! If you’re just starting this journey–and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, I wish I could give you a great big hug and then go grab a coffee a together! But instead–get cozy, refill your coffee mug, & take this post as a hug from my momma’s heart to yours! Let’s talk about 6 Things No One Tells You About Homeschooling…
1. You are your child’s best teacher!
You do not have to be a teacher by trade to homeschool…In fact–in some ways, I think my experience as a classroom teacher made it harder. I had to let go of some of my traditional ideas about school…It was huge paradigm shift that took years.
**Some great books that have helped me (and I wish they were available when I started homeschooling):
- 3 Books That Will Change the Way You Homeschool
- 4 Books That Will Make You Rethink Homeschooling, Unschooling, and the Way You Parent
Where my teaching degree helped: It’s my free pass. No one blinks about my qualifications to teach my own children. I don’t have to explain myself. But I truly want you to hear this–you don’t have to explain yourself either!
**If you need simple answer for people curious about your decision…Here’s what I might say:
“I’m really excited! This is what we feel is best for our family–and I’m amazed at all the great resources available for homeschool families!”
My teaching degree and experience gave me confidence to start this journey–mainly because I know how difficult it is to give individual children the attention they need in a classroom. I wanted something more for my kids…
You are truly your child’s best teacher–no one knows them, loves them, or will advocate for their best interests the way that you do.
2. Homeschooling Takes Less Time Than You Might Think…
Most of us come to homeschooling with a traditional school background…We typically think of school happening in a building from about 8-3 daily…
But learning is always happening. (So in a way–homeschooling happens all the time…You’re always doing “school”!) 🙂
However, formal lessons take much, much longer in a classroom of 20 children. Here’s what that might look like:
- Everyone has to get settled (pencils out, correct workbooks out, and ready to listen). You might be surprised how long this step takes!!
- Teach the lesson–while checking the entire room for understanding and work through interruptions (behavior problems, bathroom needs, someone delivers a message to your classroom, etc…)
- Give everyone a chance to practice–go back and reteach where there is misunderstanding. (Some kids will be bored OR very confused at this point–the teacher is trying to manage both extremes.)
- Give time for independent practice–try to give everyone enough time to do the assignment, keep everyone on track, give extra help to children who need accommodations.
In addition, the logistics of school take time…lining up, group bathroom breaks, lunch, recess, going to special classes like library/music/PE, and packing-up for home…
So How Much Time Does It Take?
What is an appropriate amount of time for homeschool lessons? Well young kids (and even many adults) have short attention spans! Keep lessons short–no more than 15-20 minutes in length for 2nd grade and under! Short but consistent learning sessions always work best!
Here’s the total daily amount of time that formal homeschool lessons typically take at our house: (read-alouds/math/language arts/history/science)
- Preschool: 20-45 minutes
- Kindergarten: 40 minutes-1.5 hours
- 1-3 Grade: 1.5 hours-3 hours
- 4-5th Grade: 3-5 hours
- 6-8th Grade: 4-5 hours
- 9th-12th Grade: 4-6 hours
Keep in mind…
- Kids learn so much through play in those early years!
- Working Independently is a skill…I sit with my 3rd grader and help him do almost every subject…but eventually he will do almost everything by himself! By middle school–your actual teaching time will be much, much less! Most homeschool curriculum for middle school and high school kids are written to the student. Parents move from the role of teacher to the role of coach, mentor, and guide.
- When teaching multiple children at the kindergarten/elementary level–try to study the same topics, or better yet–use the same curriculum to teach subjects like history and science!
3. You Don’t Have to Buy Curriculum for Every Subject!
My biggest advice for moms teaching elementary aged kiddos (or younger)…focus your time and resources on reading, writing, and math!
Everything else is icing on the cake at the elementary level! Follow the interests of your kids for science and history–and try to study the same topics as a family. Many writing curriculums can even be modified for several age groups! (Check out Institute for Excellence in Writing or Brave Writer!)
4. You Don’t Have to Follow OR Finish the Curriculum!
Please feel free to slow down, speed up, or skip parts that don’t meet your needs! Assignments don’t have to be completed exactly as they are presented…
For example, in math–do the problems orally or just do the even-numbered problems! Or do a completely different activity that still teaches the objective–like a game!
Classroom teachers do this all the time! The Teacher Guide–is truly that…a guide!
Most schools consider a curriculum “complete” when 80-90% of the course has been covered…So don’t fret if you haven’t gotten to the last lesson come May!
5. Homeschooling Doesn’t Have to Look Like School
I know–there are ADORABLE pictures on Instagram and Pinterest of gorgeous “classrooms” that people have created in their homes.
These are beautiful homeschool spaces.
BUT please know that the large majority of homeschool families do not homeschool like this (as much as I wish my dining room looked like the pages of Better Homes & Gardens)…
Do not get caught up in trying to create an official “school” space in your home! It’s great if you can & want to–but 100% NOT necessary!
We homeschool all over the house…every table, chair, floor, counter, and our very well-loved-tattered couch…it’s all fair game!
I use cabinets, drawers, baskets, and old armoires to hold and hide all my homeschool stuff! Our home is our school in every sense of the word.
And because we are in our home A LOT (and there are 8 of us when all my big kids are home)…things can get messy fast! (Here’s how I keep it as clean and organized as possible!)
6. You Can Count It!
As I mentioned earlier–learning is always happening and you can count it all as homeschooling!
So yes–count ballet, baseball, soccer, and piano lessons! (These easily count as PE and Fine Art classes!)
That trip to the museum–yes!! It definitely counts as school time!
Cooking, gardening, nature walks…It all counts!
The time you spend snuggled up reading books aloud–it also counts!
And even time in front of the TV counts! My kids have learned a lot of science and history just from watching Wild Kratts (PBS) and The Who Was Show (Netflix)!
For the record…classroom teachers often use television shows and movies in traditional schools! So yes–it’s okay! 😉
Just because it isn’t part of a formal, packaged curriculum–doesn’t mean that it’s not an important part of your child’s educational experience. Give yourself permission to see the world and life as your child’s classroom!
Enjoy the Journey
Homeschooling is an amazing journey and lifestyle…Please know I’m thinking of you, cheering you on, and praying for you daily!