What I've Learned Homeschooling

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First a little background information.  I started homeschooling my oldest when he was entering 2nd grade.  I homeschooled him for 2nd and 3rd grade and then I put him in public school for 4th and 5th grades.  All I’m going to say about this was it was a huge mistake and I should have never put him in public school again.  At the time I thought I was doing what was best for him because of some things that were happening in our lives.  Now we are entering his high school years and a new adventure is about to begin.


  1. Our first year was awful and quite frankly it was my fault.  I bought a whole prepackaged curriculum that didn’t fit my son’s learning style and was too advanced for where he was.  What I should have done was learn what his learning style was and where he was exactly in learning.  See I just assumed I could get a second grade curriculum and it would just be a natural progression of where he ended in first grade.  These 2 things resulted in many days of crying and gnashing of teeth.



  1. Find their learning style and adjust to it.  This is really hard especially if it is the opposite of yours.  My oldest is an auditory learner.  If he reads something silently it sticks for a whole 2 seconds but if I let him read it out loud he retains it.  I’ll admit this drives me batty sometimes.  But because this is the way he learns best we’ve made adjustments.  He has his own area where he can go and read out loud and not disturb the others.  I also do more read aloud and get audio books for him.  My 2nd boy is a hands on learner and auditory.  He has to be able to work things out using his hands and he has to hear it to get it.  He just doesn’t learn well by reading it alone.  As you can see the noise level in my house can get quite distracting if you’re like me and learn just from reading it.  Their learning styles were so against my nature it took me a long time to accept it and deal with it.  Don’t fight their nature set up the environment so it works for all of you.



  1. It is ok to not finish a book.  I use to think if I bought the book we had to finish it.  Then I read somewhere that public schools hardly ever finish a whole textbook every year, which was a light bulb moment for me.  I started thinking that’s true and they usually spend the first several weeks rehashing what was learned the year before.  Now I use them but I don’t let them rule us.  Sometimes we skip a section or use just bits of books.  Just because I have it does not mean I have to use every page in it.



  1. It is ok to start school at 10am instead of 8am.  We are not morning people and I fought this for years trying to get everyone up and started on schoolwork by 8 or 9 in the morning.  We spent many mornings miserable.  Since I have accepted this fact we actually get more accomplished in less time. 



  1. You and your family are not like everyone else.  Just because so and so is doing it does not mean it will work for you.  It is really hard to not compare ourselves with other homeschooling families but it sure is a good way to make you feel like a failure.  I use to make myself miserable trying to be the perfect homeschool mom.  There is no such thing!  You must do what works for you and your family and not worry about what others are doing.  That was something that took me awhile to accept.  So if buying store bought bread instead of baking it is what works for you.  Great!  Do it. 



  1. Be realistic in your expectations and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as you planned.  There have been times that the boys have picked things up quicker than I thought.  There have also been times when the boys have taken longer than I thought.  Both have thrown me for a loop because I kept thinking the “schedule”.  The schedule is a guide, not a live or die thing.  Relax and make adjustments as necessary.  Things will be fine and they will get there.



  1. Having every kid on a different topic for every subject will drive you to the loony bin.  I tried this for awhile and learned I can not switch gears all that easy.  My brain just doesn’t work that way.  So know I try to combine subjects for the boys.  I usually combine History, Science, and Language Arts.  Yes they are in different grades but it can be done.  I’ll write up our study and include things for all the boys.  I may have biography papers on the list but obviously I don’t expect the 3rd grader to do as well as the 8th grader.  Also my oldest doesn’t like lapbooks but my 3rd grader loves them.  So if I write a unit for lapbooking, I’ll have my oldest do it in a notebook instead.  This has made my life so much easier. 



  1. If the child is getting frustrated with a subject close the book and move on to something else.  Go back to it at a later time when things are more relaxed.  Sometimes you just need a break from a lesson. 



  1. There will be days when the kids have the wiggles and zero attention span.  On days like this I have learned everyone will just end up crying if you keep pushing to get the seat work done.  These are days we’ll go for a nature walk, the library, the zoo, or any other impromptu field trip. 



  1. You can homeschool on a budget.  It takes more work on your part but if money is tight you can do it.  It is not necessary to buy tons of curriculums to give your kids a good education.  There is tons of free stuff on the internet.  You can also find lots of things at the library, museums, and other places.  Be creative and think outside the box.
  2. Don't say you will always or never do something.  Life has a way of throwing you curves you never expected that will lead you to do just the opposite of what you said.
  3. Don't expect your child to sit still and be cooperative for long periods of time.  I have found for the K-1st graders about 15 to 20 minutes is all they can take.  I then add about 10 minutes per year up to 45 minutes.  After that amount of time I let them have a 5 or 10 minute break then back to the books.


I guess overall what I’ve learned is to take the time to find out what works for you and your family.  Every homeschool is different and that is what makes homeschooling so successful.  Education is not a one size fit all thing, if it was public schools would be extremely successful.

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