Have you ever wished there were a list of things you should do or definitely not do when beginning homeschooling?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Even veteran homeschool mom’s are doubt themselves at times.

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When I first started homeschooling I asked everyone I knew which curriculum to use, what days to homeschool, which subjects to teach, and how I would know if my kids were doing okay or not.

I spoke with several veteran homeschool moms and they all had the same advice. Have fun with your children, enjoy the time while they’re in your home, and use whatever works best for you!

Well, as a first timer, and a type A personality person, those words weren’t exactly comforting to me. I wanted a well laid out action plan. I wanted a curriculum that would tell me in specifics what to do, when to do it, and what to say. I wanted something that told me how long to do each subject, and how many days to do it.

Unfortunately, and fortunately, there just isn’t anything out there like that. Honestly, there really isn’t one absolutely perfect curriculum that you need to run out and get right now. And ironically, after homeschooling for 9 years I find myself starting to sound like those other veteran mama’s who told me to just do what works best for our family.

Now, that said, I realized that there were others out there like me who needed at least a starting plan to follow until they could take the reigns on their own. And so I wrote Homeschooling 101: A parents guide to getting started. It’s a great book, with well laid out plans to help you get started. And hopefully it will also give you the confidence to venture out on your own and try new things, and eventually get into that lovely homeschooling groove where you’re family is thriving.

As I thought about what it was like when I first started out, I wanted to share a few do’s and don’ts in regards to homeschooling to help anyone who might be questioning themselves at this stage in the game. So here are just a few tips that I’ve learned over the years, and hopefully they will encourage you too!

 

Homeschooling Do’s

  1. Do pray about homeschooling, curriculum choices, and any other decisions you have on your plate. Homeschooling isn’t something to just jump into. It’s a huge commitment and should not be taken lightly. I highly recommend praying about your homeschool, your curriculum, your schedule, and everything else!
  2. Do discuss issues with your spouse. One of the best things that I did was to involve my husband in our homeschooling process. For the first few years I picked curriculum and if something didn’t work it kind of fell on me. Now we discuss pros and cons of the ones we like, and then we choose our curriculum together. It takes a lot of pressure off of me, and when we have school we can discuss them together.
  3. Do research the various curriculum choices. Don’t just buy something because a friend is using it. Take the time to research the various curriculum out there, and really try to choose something that will work for you and your children. A great place to find reviews are in my homeschooling forum area and also at www.homeschoolreviews.com. Several people have chimed in over the years with their opinions to most of the curriculum out there today. Here you can see pros and cons, then decide which things you can live with, and which you don’t want to have to deal with. Another great place to check out materials in person are homeschool conventions. You can do an online search for homeschool conventions in your area to get a hands-on look at curriculum, and ask questions from the various vendors as well as attend workshops to learn more about a variety of topics. It can definitely make choosing curriculum easier!
  4. Do schedule in some “free” days to play catch up if you get behind. I learned early on, that my vigorous schedule didn’t always pan out in real life. And you will get behind it’s inevitable, everyone does, even traditional schools. Don’t freak out about it, just plan a regular catch up days into your schedule, so that you can catch up on work. And hey if you’re on schedule you can enjoy a day off! It will relieve a lot of the stress that keeping up with a demanding schedule can bring on.
  5. Do check out homeschool conferences and co-ops in your area. I already mentioned this a little bit above, but I wanted it to have it’s own bullet point. Conferences can be a great way to connect with other homeschooling families, vendors, and they usually offer a wide variety of workshops as well. It’s a great place to talk to vendors one on one and ask any questions you might have. Co-ops are also a great way to meet other homeschooling families, participate in fun activities for your children, and support for those rough days.
  6. Do create a vision statement for your homeschool, and create a list of goals that you want to achieve each year. We created a vision statement when we first started, and I can’t tell you how much it has helped. Whenever we’re on the fence about a certain curriculum, or activity, we check our vision statement. We can see if what we’re looking at fits into our vision or not. From there, you can include or exclude curriculum, activities, and the like based on what will help you attain your homeschooling goals.

 

Homeschooling Don’ts

  1. Don’t worry about what other people think. ‘nuff said. (Okay, just a bit more. Everyone has an opinion, and most people are happy to share theirs wanted or not. If you’ve created a vision statement, and know why you are homeschooling, then that’s all you need. What other people think just doesn’t matter.)
  2. Don’t compare your kids to other people’s kids. This really goes for all parents, homeschooling or not. But comparing your child’s development with another’s is not a good practice in any setting. Everyone develops at different rates, and the wonderful thing about homeschooling is that it’s flexible enough to cater to your child’s needs. They might be a super star ahead in everything, or possibly a bit slower to develop, and more common yet are students who excel in one area, but need help in another. Don’t worry about your neighbors kids, just focus on giving your child the best education you can and encourage and support them along the  journey!
  3. Don’t let your curriculum dictate your day. Sure it’s great to follow along with a planned curriculum, especially if you like it and it has worked well for your family. But don’t feel like you’re chained down by it’s demands. Make the curriculum work for you, and fit it into your schedule. If it calls for 5 days per week, but you only have 3 spots open, then do it 3 times a week. See if you can combine lessons so you don’t fall behind, or possibly stretch it out over two years to fit it all in. You might even consider…gasp…not finishing the curriculum! Did you know most public school classes don’t get through an entire book in one year? Guess what?  It’s okay!  I have taken curriculum before, and just pulled out the sections that I wanted to cover for that year and skipped the others. Just decide what you want to teach from that curriculum and schedule it in to fit your needs.
  4. Don’t jump into homeschooling without careful consideration and prayer. Homeschooling really is a calling, and it’s not to be entered into lightly. Make sure to consider finances, family values, goals, and time management. You can expect to spend around 5 hours per day homeschooling, and possibly more if you have planning and preparing to do. Again I encourage you to discuss the decision with your spouse, pray about it, an follow God’s leading for your family.
  5. Don’t try and teach/learn absolutely everything about everything. As a blogger when I’m surfing online I’ll see tons of great ideas and activities that other homeschooling families do. It can easily make me feel inferior as a mom, and like I’m not doing enough with my children. Follow your vision and goals for your homeschooling family. Sure it’s fun to add in extra things here and there to add a splash of excitement, but don’t feel like you have to be doing everything every single year.

 

Most of all, follow God’s leading in your homeschool just as you would for your daily lives and you can’t go wrong!

I hope this post helped encourage some of you, and have a great week!

Looking for more in-depth help on getting started homeschooling? Check out my book Homeschooling 101! It’s a step by step guide to getting started, choosing curriculum, deciding what to teach, creating lesson plans, staying the course, and more!

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Kindle Edition or Paperback available on Amazon.com.

23 Comments

  1. Hello, I literally just found your blog through a Google search of “homeschool moms blog” since I do not know anyone that homeschools for me to be able to pick their brain. For months on end, over a yrs time, I have been searching for answers about homeschooling my now 5yr old daughter for Kindergarten next year. I guess you could say that I’ve already been homeschooling her this past year for pre-k by not placing her in a preschool. However I continually tell myself that I’m not really homeschooling her at this very moment in time because in CO I am not required by law to put her in school until she reaches age 6. Point being, I agree that homeschooling has to be a calling from God. I am probably stressing myself out over this more than I should, but I feel like I know the definite answer is “yes” to homeschool. The struggle of it is I keep talking myself out of it based on the disapproval of others (my family). They keep telling me that she “needs” to be in school so she can be independent and learn to trust others and socialize… you all know the jist of it. My husband is on board but he wants to know if I’m sure I can do it. I already do it now, but its pre-k. I guess I just wish that others could recognize that I’m doing it now and if I can do it now then I can do it for Kindergarten. I keep telling my family, “why has God placed homeschooling on my heart if it’s not His plan for us as a family” & they cannot answer. All in all, nobody knows my daughter like I do. I do not feel like a classroom setting where all the children are moved at the same pace is best for her because she is such a bright child. Actually I feel like she is at kindergarten level now and I’m afraid that putting her in K will hold her back where if I homeschool I can whiz her right into 1st grade stuff when I feel she is ready, which could be this summer. I like that homeschooling is not structured to the point that kids are like robots, its a chance for moms to connect with their children and do what they were innately placed on this earth to do;to love, teach and guide them. Most of all to have fun while doing it. I’m happy to know that I am not the only one that struggles with the worries or doubts of homeschooling, I just want what’s best for my child.

    Sunny
  2. I Stumbled on this website and wanted to say thanks for the info and encouragement. I may be the only homeschool dad here, and a bit scared. My daughter is bright, intelligent, witty and deserves more than what she is getting at school. With her in school I spend 2-3hrs each day with homework and it seems the only thing she is learning is from home. She deserves more. I have a science degree and the new common core items I don’t even understand. I have prayed…. I will be hard…. but I will be successful.

    Thanks again

    David

    David
    1. Thank you for sharing the same thoughts as I. We have a 10 yr old boy that struggles w/ extreme homework loads each evening. Heck, I’ve been feeling like I’m homeschooling every evening. It’s as if they fly through the material so fast that I have to reteach it at home. I was just glad to hear another person that’s feeling the same as I in this area. God bless your homeschooling efforts;)

      Stephanie
  3. Thank you for the comforting tips! I just started Homeschooling a few weeks ago and your blog has been such a HUGE help and inspiration this past year while I prepared. I was in “research mode” for over a year and finally realized I needed to let go of all my if’s and’s and but’s .. “But what if this child doesn’t get it?” “And what happens when we fall behind?” “What if it’s too hard?” ” But how do I teach them both at the same time?” “Will this curriculum be the best?” I finally made up my mind that I already trusted God to lead me in the direction of homeschooling, so I shouldn’t have any problem trusting Him in the direction of How. BTW – your curriculums are very thorough! My boys absolutely love Worlds Greatest Artist and Road Trip USA! Art and Geography seem to be their favorite subject right now!

    Amanda
  4. I enjoyed your tips. This is my first year homeschooling, and many times I’ve caught myself worrying that my daughter is falling behind kindergarteners in public school. Most of my concern was in her reading. She has been awesome at learning sight words, but very slow at phonics. She has just recently started making an effort at sounding out new words. I needed the reminder to take a breath and not worry so much.

  5. I’ve been homeschooling for some time now, and yes I agree with most of your tips in this matter. Because of my husband’s job situation we had to move to Toronto. I’ve been exploring Internet to search for some suitable high school options for my son, and found this list with alternative high schools and I wanted to ask you what is your opinion on this – are alternative high schools a better option for a boy who’d been homeschooled for some years, or is better to try public schools? I just want the best for him and I know that this feeling is mutual with every mother out there 🙂 Alternative schools are more expensive but we are willing to put some money aside.
    So, it would be great to have another opinion from other “mom professionals”

    Thanks and love your blog! Happy homeschooling

    Lana P.
  6. Your refreshing approach to marketing, just sold me a copy of your book. My grandchildren are just beginning homeschooling, and my spouse is to be the instructor. She is nervous about the entire process, and your book on the homeschooling process will be a great resource. Your free, high quality resources on this website, are what sold me on the value of your skills, and led me to the book on Amazon. If more individuals took this approach of demonstrating their value with something of worth, without necessarily giving away the store, they would find their market share growing. Thank you.

    Newell Jones
  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!! I bought your LOE prek curriculum and my sons love it! I find myself doubting my abilities and having fears that I’m not going to be good enough or do enough “cool stuff” with them! I’ll be buying your book soon!

  8. Hello Erica,
    I was wondering if you would consider allowing us to re-post this article on the Christian Home Educators of Colorado blog. I enjoyed discovering your blog today, and I thought this article would bless the homeschoolers of Colorado. I would be happy to include a bio and link to your site.
    Thanks!
    Blessings,
    Julianna Dotten
    CHEC Marketing Assistant

  9. Hi there!

    Thank you so much for this. I’m on my 2nd year of homeschooling and I still find it difficult at times. The reason why we decided to homeschool was because we strongly believe that not every child learns the same way. We noticed from early on that our daughter is very artistic and VERY distracted. My husband and I were the same way in school. We didn’t want her to be in school and have her feel like she was less than or not smart enough. I got a little discouraged because she isn’t reading yet and she’s 7. When I see her struggling I tell my self “I’m not alone, I’m not alone” and I try my best not to show her my concern. I know that the more we practice the better she’ll become. My daughter has no idea that most kids are reading by 1st grade. I realize then THAT’S why we’re homeschooling.
    We are going at our own pace and I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to teach my daughter at home. I’m happy that I’m not alone.
    Thank you again Erica!

    Blanca

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