I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Top 5 Things Every New Homeschool Mom Needs to Know

Top 5 Things Every New Homeschool Mom Needs to Know

I’m not one to hold too much stock in statistics, especially as they relate to education. I think there are so many factors that come into play when you’re trying to quantify something as large as learning. But when faced with the grim reality that 1/3 of all newbie homeschool moms quit after the first year, I definitely take note.

Can it really be true? Are so many moms looking for the exit ramp even before they’ve ever had a chance to see the thing take off?

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Sadly, yes. Without the proper support and an unclear road map, 33% of all first-year homeschool moms retreat.

I can’t blame them. Homeschooling can be hard. Really hard. Often, however, in an effort to make it count, new homeschooling moms end up making it all harder than it needs to be. They use the road map of the other guys but expect to somehow end up at a different destination. In doing so, they unintentionally sabotage their own efforts.

If that’s you—if you are currently contemplating a forfeit because homeschooling hasn’t quite lived up to your expectations, might I take your hand and show you a simpler way?

I won’t begin to pretend that I’ve got home education all cinched up. I still have shaky days. But after twelve years of stumbling forward, I’ve learned a few things about learning at home.

Here are the top 5 things I want every new homeschool mom to know.

Top 5 Things Every New Homeschool Mom Needs to Know #homeschool #homeschoolbravely

Metrics Don’t Teach

We’ve all been conditioned to believe that an education can’t happen without obligatory plumb lines like grades and tests. But, metrics don’t teach. They only show progress. As the mom, don’t you see the progress? Don’t you see whether or not your child knows 2 + 2 or can identify all eight parts of speech? Grades and tests are both necessary evils over there because classroom teachers need hard proof with which to show learning. They need to report…to school boards, administrators, and parents. But unless your state requires it, you don’t need to report to anyone. Why add the extra time burden of taking score and adding columns? Spend that time teaching instead. That investment is bound to move the educational needle a whole lot more than taking a test ever will.

You Can’t Teach It All

In the early years, it can be easy to start adding and adding and adding to the school year. With so many great curriculums, online extras, and co-op community offerings available, FOMO (fear of missing out) can quickly seep through the cracks. As homeschool moms, we all often have an overwhelming weight on our shoulders to do it right, to get it all in, to teach all-the-things as if the burden of proof is on us. We fear gaps. But the truth is, it’s absolutely impossible to teach all that there is to know. That’s true of homeschool moms. But don’t forget that it’s also true for traditional teachers. Learning gaps are unavoidable, no matter the schooling choice.

To that end, your goal as a homeschool mom should not be to teach everything or to jam every possible something into one school year. Instead, your goal should be to inspire a child to want to know everything. If you can do that, you’ll set the stage for a lifetime of learning.

Top 5 Things Every New Homeschool Mom Needs to Know #homeschool #homeschoolbravely

Self-Care is Group Care

If you want to have longevity in this thing, you have to make you a priority. That’s not selfish or greedy. It’s necessary. You have to be willing to pencil yourself and your hobbies into each and every day, if only for a few minutes. You can not light yourself on fire just to keep others warm. Any bit of self-care will always add to your homeschool, even if it looks like it only adds to you. By investing in your own hobbies, you’ll not only be able to bring a lot of new topics and areas of interest to the school table, but you’ll also be able to teach from a place of delight instead of defeat.

A Curriculum is a Guide

Curriculum is great. It’s so nice to be able to lean on something and gain direction. I, for one, am perfectly content inventing wheels every now and again but I wouldn’t want to do it every single day. (That's why I have a large, laundry list of books and resources I love.) I’m grateful that others have gone before me and have put together loose plans that I can borrow. However, no one curriculum or boxed set of this or that will be the silver bullet answer to every child’s educational needs.

When using a curriculum, remember to hold it loosely. If one particular book in the set just doesn’t seem to fit, skip it. If the writing assignment has your child writing a story about birds, but he’d rather write one about baseball, let him. If he’s already mastered the math concept on the page, don’t assign more review, move on. If he's struggling to understand, don't keep plowing forward. Slow down. Try it again. And remember that the "professionals" have struggling learners too.

Curriculum is a guide, not a dogma. Don’t be afraid to veer off the path. Add and subtract as needed. Trust me, the curriculum cops won’t come knocking if you do.

Top 5 Things Every New Homeschool Mom Needs to Know #homeschool #homeschoolbravely

Your Child Will Be Proof

If you’re homeschooling, chances are you've already received more than your share of comments from the naysayers. But if not, brace yourself. You'll hear them soon enough. 

As with anything in life, the moment you choose the different path, you'll experience public outcry. Friends and family will raise their eyebrows and wag their fingers. They’ll say that homeschooled kids are weird or that they miss out. And while to some degree that might be true, weird is less of a homeschooling thing and more of a humanity thing. The world is full of weird adults, most of whom went to public school. Resist the urge to match snark for snark. Don’t waste one single moment trying to prove anything to the critics.  Just dig into the work that God has set before you and let your kids be the proof that homeschooling was the right choice for you and yours.

Homeschooling is hard. That’s true. But the same can be said for marriage and parenting and a whole host of other worthwhile things. Things that matter are rarely easy. Somedays, homeschooling will only be about as delightful as bathing a cat. You’ll often feel understaffed and underappreciated. I’m not trying to be casually offensive here. These are the facts. But like all those other big, important things, if you stick with it, if you see it all the way to the end, you’ll reap a lifetime of fruit. In the meantime, don’t allow your fear to be the loose thread that unravels the whole thing.

Top 5 Things Every New Homeschool Mom Needs to Know #homeschool #homeschoolbravely

If you’re still drenched in doubt and on the verge of giving up, might I suggest my new book, Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child With Confidence? With practical tips and plenty of encouragement, it will help you quiet the voices of “not good enough.” No one should ever have to quit homeschooling because of a lack of support. Not on my watch, anyway. Let me cup your shaking chin, lift your eyes off your worries, and show you how to press on with courage.

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