In these uncertain times, we know that many people are turning to homeschooling who may never have considered it before. We’ve invited these experienced homeschoolers to share with you their best advice for making the transition from traditional school to homeschool and silencing the doubts and fears that we all face.
No matter what your unique situation (whether it’s homeschooling high school, homeschooling with special needs, homeschooling as a single mom, and so many more!), I am confident you will find at least on voice in this article that you can relate to.
Dear Unexpected Homeschooling Mama,
You don’t have to have it all figured out! I know I don’t & we’re 7 years into our homeschooling journey. We all dove into this taking it one day at a time, learning as we go just like you are now. And I realize anew every year that I still am!
Yep, it’s a learning curve. There will be ups & downs. Some days attitude issues & lack of motivation will be rising up on both sides. We have days like that too. It’s okay to be human & doesn’t mean that you’re not cut out for this.
Mama, you don’t have to be perfect. We veteran homeschooling mamas are not naturally patient! This is just another aspect of motherhood that you’re called to learn & grow through in this season. You are qualified for this.
You’ve been teaching your kiddos their whole lives. Evidenced by the fact that they can tie their shoes & use a spoon today. Give yourself & your kiddos a huge load of grace through all the ups & downs of this change of direction. Work at embracing the gift of extra time, freedom to direct your days & the simplicity of slower days. In the midst of the unexpected, newness & shifts of today we can still orchestrate the rhythm of our days.
And prayerfully draw strength from God’s mercies that are new every morning. Every day is a fresh start.
Amber celebrates West Coast life & homeschool freedom. They spend their days diving into forest adventures, creative pursuits, read alouds & heart impacting discussions. Living for Jesus & communicating their thoughts and hearts well is important. She delights in encouraging mamas to choose joy, pursue healthier lives & to be intentional in seeking beauty through the ups & downs of homeschool life. You can follow Amber on Instagram at @pursuing_abundance!
From Leslie M. Martino:
Can you remember a time when you learned something new or when doing or seeing something sparked an interest that excited you? Perhaps it was painting, or planting a garden, building a piece of furniture, or learning to play the guitar. When you realized how much this particular thing resonated with you, what did you do? Did you decide to pursue the interest further?
If you did, you probably learned so much in the process, not just about your area of interest, but about yourself too.
Children are no different. There are probably a myriad of things with which they (and all of us) could potentially fall in love. When they are genuinely interested in something they are learning, there is the potential for the depth and breadth of their knowledge to be great. So, they need the time, materials and guidance to develop these interests.
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that it’s okay to take the time to create the kind of nurturing environment that honors your child’s interests, and a slower, more natural pace to learning.
Your homeschool does not have to look like school at home. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to accomplish everything on OUR agenda, that we become the home version of 40 minute school-style classes. All that’s missing is the bell going off as we power through our to-do list of subjects.
But there’s a different way. I think slow and intentional wins this race.
Leslie is a wife and homeschooling mom to four children (including six year old identical twin boys) who keep her on her toes. She and her husband are originally from New York City, but now live in Central Florida. Over the last 20 years Leslie has taught, both in elementary and college education, and in the dance/movement/fitness industry. Life is full and rich and through it all, she remains passionate about children and the way they see and experience the world around them. You can connect with Leslie on Instagram at @lesliemmartino.
From Jennifer Pepito:
My oldest son graduated from university this month; he was on the Dean’s List, Outstanding Student of the Year, and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
The interesting thing is that he is the child that I homeschooled the least. He is the third born and I was often busy helping the oldest get started, doing therapy activities with my second child, or caring for babies. He often skipped school to go work at an orphanage with my husband, and had only written a few papers by the time he started his first college class at age 14.
But he knew how to work hard, and we have a family culture of reading and discussing books, and having conversations about all manner of things, so he knew how to learn and he was diligent.
I’m so proud of him, but I hope that any of you who are contemplating homeschooling but are scared, will call out the lie “I’m not smart enough” or “I can’t educate my child” and just smack it down. Children are natural learners, and while I wouldn’t have wished for all of the difficulties we went through that made his education less than stellar, he rose above it, and your family can too.
Jennifer lives in the California foothills with her husband Scott and their seven children. She has homeschooled for over 23 years, and has graduated four of her children from her educational program. She is a writer, speaker, and the founder of The Peaceful Press, a company committed to providing young families with learning resources that promote connection between parents and children. You can follow Jennifer on Instagram at @jenniferpepito.
From Beth Corcoran:
Dear special needs mama who is considering homeschooling, I know you have a lot of worries. You worry if your child will actually learn. You worry if they will make friends. You get bogged down trying to choose the perfect curriculum.
Here’s my best advice as 12 year special needs homeschooling veteran: keep it super simple! Especially if your child is little. Seek out help and support from resources like Flamingo Feathers, but don’t overthink things. Often the most effective curriculum is simple—not the shiniest and fanciest. And when you’re relaxed, your children will be too!
Beth is an adoptive mom to her 8 kids, and has been homeschooling for 12 years. She has children with many diagnoses including dyslexia and Down syndrome, and is passionate about supporting and equipping other special needs homeschooling families through her Flamingo Feathers podcast. You can find Beth on Instagram at @flamingofeathers_beth.
From Samantha Elizabeth:
Over the years we have “schooled” in many different places. From our schoolroom in the house to our cabin in the woods to our outdoor summer classroom. Learning has happened gathered around the kitchen table, cuddled up on the couch and sprawled out on blankets in the yard. There was even one time when I was on bed rest that my husband brought all the childrens’ desks upstairs to our room so that I could teach from my bed. As I think back on all these times and places I can’t help but smile at all the wonderful memories we’ve created no matter where we were.
So if you’re a mom who’s just starting out or even feeling a little intimidated by all of the beautiful spaces you see on here, my biggest advice to you would be to worry less about the space and concentrate more on what memories you want to create in that space. I can testify that after 9 years of homeschooling it’s not the pretty spaces that my children remember, it’s the love and sense of togetherness that you and your children will hold on to.
There is no right way to homeschool, friends. Life will happen, your childrens’ needs will change from year to year as will yours, and one of the best things that you can do for your family is to embrace the season that you are in. It may look like 8 hour school days, 12 months of unschooling or something in between. Whatever it happens to look like for you: own it and don’t for a second worry about those who are doing it differently.
Samantha is a homeschooling mama of 4 who lives in Canada. Her family loves travel, adventuring, and exploring the great outdoors. You can learn more about Samantha and her family on Instagram at @thisgrowinglife.
From Nikki Moore:
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -W. B. Yeats
Out of all the many quotes and affirmations swirling around, this one by Yeats keeps coming to the front of my mind.
My goal isn’t to dump information into my kids’ brains in hopes it will be useful to them one day. (How many things do you remember from first grade? Third grade? Seventh?) I certainly don’t know everything out there, and the standard educational canon is frankly pretty bizarre in what it includes and leaves out. The information itself will always be there. Presenting data to a student is not all that interesting or even necessary anymore – any person who is interested in something, in this current era, can find the information they want. A teacher needs to be more of a guide, a coach, a co-explorer…than a giver of information.
Instead of making information the sum of education, I want my sons’ hearts to be kindled into love and appreciation and awe, for this incredible world and for humans and for Jesus. Ideas and questions have weight and magnetism, and can spark a blaze. The kindling of an idea or question can drive someone to be a lifelong learner, to educate themselves and to seek their own answers. To fill their own pails. I’m sure my goals will shift and refine over time, but for today, that’s what I want for my boys in this path we’re starting.
Nikki lives in Nebraska with her husband of 11 years and 3 little boys. She’s a photographer and business owner in her spare time. She uses an eclectic blend of Charlotte Mason methods and interest led learning with her oldest, a rising second grader. You can find Nikki on Instagram at @moorelittlemen.
From Jacob Suitter:
I think homeschooling parents hear too much about what homeschooling should be. We’re told it should be about a good education, faith, flexibility, or necessity (as we learned these last few months!). I believe parents need to come up with their own reason/s, because someone else’s won’t last, especially on challenging days.
The strongest reason we’re homeschooling is to build a strong family culture. My parents sacrificed many things to homeschool my three siblings and me when homeschooling was really in its infancy during the 1980’s. And the family culture we have is truly priceless.
Traditional school separates siblings into different levels and social groups, but homeschooling unifies siblings, parents, and extended family by making education a family activity. If siblings grow up learning and exploring with each other, they will have a bond that will bring them back together and inspire them to make their own strong family culture when they start their families.
I think making sure you and your spouse are on the same page with your mission will make those rough days easier to endure.
Jacob is a homeschooling stay-at-home dad of two little guys ages 2 and 3. He quit his job shortly after his first son was born as it required travel for a little over half of the year. Jacob’s wife, who is from Europe and had never heard of homeschooling healthy children, is now a huge supporter of homeschooling, and she is actively involved in our boys’ education. Jacob and his family live in Denver, Colorado. You can follow Jacob on Instagram at @jakeandkids.
From Chantelle Gregory:
Being a single mom or dad is tough. I get it. But single-parent homeschooling? That’s impossible, right? Wrong.
In 2016, I became a single mom and although it seemed like my homeschooling dreams were being shattered before my very eyes, I didn’t allow my circumstances to steal my vision.
Regardless of your story, you are NOT incapable of homeschooling your children. Homeschooling is not “school at home”. It doesn’t have to fit in a 9 am to 2 pm box. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to teach your children what you want, when you want, where you want, and for however much you want.
If you are a single and/or working parent and you are considering homeschooling, I encourage you to creatively push into your vision and don’t give in to baseless doubts or fears. Remember, you are not alone. I, and many others in the homeschooling community are hear to support you, encourage you, and answer any questions you might have.
Chantelle is a single mom homeschooling her two daughters, ages 6 and 3, in the heart of Virginia. They homeschool year round embracing a wanderlust-living, respectful-parenting, joy-seeking, Jesus-loving, radical unschooling life. You can follow Chantelle on Instagram at @gracegritandwanderlust.
From Heather Woodie:
My advice is to embrace all the independence and authenticity that comes with homeschooling. You get to make this experience just what your kids and teens need it to be! So, be a student of your student. Learn what makes their learning thrive and don’t worry about what that looks like. Take some time to de-school. That means you’ll have time to explore and to help your kids to love learning again. Create a learning environment that cultivates curiosity and have fun.
Resist the urge to replicate all the parts of school at home. Instead, don’t be afraid to carve a new path and see what comes of it! Sometimes the parts of school we think are so important, really aren’t. When you open up to new ideas of learning, amazing things begin to happen. Moms of teens, it’s never too late!
Heather is a professional educator turned homeschool mom of four fantastic kids, two of whom have graduated and are on to university and two who are still in high school. Her homeschool is all about creating authentic experiences for her out-of-the box teens in high school that lead to dream college admissions. You can do this, and she’s here to help! You can connect with Heather on Instagram at @heather.blogshewrote.
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