Dear New Homeschooler,
I hesitated to write this letter to you. I know you’ve scoured the internet in search of anything and everything that will help you prepare for this year. You’ve found encouragement and you’ve found fuel for your anxiety. You’ve found much of the same words of advice over and over again. Maybe you can’t decide if the repeated advice is mere consolation or should be tucked away as treasure for later. So, I hesitated to write because I you don’t need more noise; you need true support.
The truth is I needed support when I started my homeschool journey ten years ago, and I still need support today. We all do. Don’t hesitate to ask for it. Find another mom or dad who has experience homeschooling to walk alongside you. But, never, ever, feel like you have to do everything that mentor suggests. Just like every child is different, every homeschool is, too. And guess what–what works this year might not work next year. Just like your parenting skills have had to adjust with your children as they grow, so too will your homeschooling style.
I wish I could sit with each of you to give you in-person support. If I could, I’d want to tell you much of what you think about education is arbitrary. Yes, arbitrary. I have a degree in education. Did it help me homeschool? Yes, but mostly no. My training helped me teach my children to read. It also ingrained in me benchmarks that are useless outside public schools. Here’s an example. Does it actually matter if your child learns to read in Kindergarten versus First grade? In the short term, it might help your child gain independence in school work earlier. In the long term, it will make absolutely no difference. You do not indicate on his/her high school transcript when he/she learned to read (or memorized math facts, or learned the Scientific Method, or, or, or…), nor will he/she be asked in his/her first job interview. My point is, don’t lose sight of the proverbial forest. It’s a wonderful place full of exciting learning opportunities. That one tree that makes you anxious is just a distraction.
Lastly, have fun! But also, allow yourself to have what my youngest calls “unlucky days.” Every day can’t and won’t be perfect. They don’t have to be. Give your kids an environment in which they can learn, explore, create, and engage. Make them feel safe and loved. That’s what matters most.
With love and support,
P.S. Do you have specific questions about homeschooling. Leave a reply and I’ll gladly answer them.