Before you take out a loan to build an addition on your home for the perfect classroom, or think that you can’t homeschool without a line of credit for supplies, please consider a few points from a homeschool mama who got it all wrong in the beginning.

Once my family made the decision to homeschool, my HGTV-Pinterest-Hobby Lobby, loving brain jumped into high gear.  Where would we set up our classroom? What furniture would we need?  What fancy (otherwise known as expensive), color-coordinated, organizational supplies could I convince my husband were a must?  I spent an entire summer choosing curriculum and getting the “junk room” in the basement ready for school.

The first day of homeschool came and the matching file folders, notebooks, plastic drawers and stocked book cases were proof that we were ready!  My ten year-old daughter stayed in her comfy pajamas, as I had promised she could.  I excitedly showed her my system, my schedule, my carefully chosen curriculum.

She was quiet. She didn’t sit at the well-appointed desk with the sharpened pencils, flowered stapler and tape dispenser.  She didn’t stand in awe at the transformation of the basement room.  She didn’t smother me with hugs and kisses and thank me for all hard work I had put in to choosing just the right curriculum.  Instead, she grabbed the first book we were going to read (I had thought together) out of my hand and skulked back upstairs to her messy bedroom. Before closing the door, with drooped shoulders she muttered, “I thought homeschooling meant I was going to be able to pick what I wanted to learn about.”

With a first day like that, you would hope I would’ve made changes immediately! But not me, no, I was stubborn!  I had an idea of what homeschooling was supposed to look like, feel like and I was sticking to it.  My daughter had an idea of what homeschooling was supposed to look like, feel like and she was sticking to it, too!  The arguments, the tears, the wasted time, the desperate calls to my husband at lunch time!  Oh, the pain of remembering those early days!

Eventually, with wise council from my ever-patient husband, we both did make changes.  The basement classroom was abandoned in preference for the living room couch, bedroom or kitchen table.  The essential supplies were moved to my daughter’s bedroom where a small desk sufficed for storage only, as she preferred to sit on her bed to do her work.  We spent time talking about what she wanted to learn and incorporated it into the required subjects.  My schedule became our schedule and I learned to let go of the idea of “doing school at home.” She signed up for extra-curricular activities and a homeschool co-op.  I tried to be more flexible; she tried to be more structured. We made our way through.

As you contemplate homeschooling, please know it doesn’t really matter where you do school.  It definitely doesn’t matter if your file folders are color-coordinated. You don’t have to follow a traditional school schedule. You don’t have to find the perfect curriculum.  You do have to talk with your children about expectations-yours and theirs.  The place for homeschooling will be wherever you happen to be when a learning opportunity presents itself.  That’s real homeschooling…Pinterest worthy or not.

Tracy is a lover of all things New England and enjoys exploring antique bookshops, camping in the mountains, and scouring shorelines for sea glass. She was introduced to Jesus at Vacation Bible School which sparked a life-long passion for Children’s Ministry. Tracy holds a bachelor’s degree from Gordon College. After homeschooling one of her two children, she now is honored to lead the wonderful women on the Homeschool Specialist team at Christianbook.