It’s exciting to see how homeschooling is growing across the country! I know so many parents who have recently pulled their kids out of the modern school system for one reason or another. These parents know that starting a homeschool journey is the right decision for their kids, and yet they are struggling to make homeschooling actually work well at home. I have some advice that may help you if you’re one of these parents who are new to homeschooling or are considering it. It comes down to: lead with love and trust.
Now I know that may not seem like enough.
You’re probably wondering how exactly love and trust help when:
- Your child can’t sit still to focus on the curriculum
- They don’t listen to you as they did with their teacher
- Power struggles with your kid is affecting the whole family dynamic
- Trying to fit in all the subjects they offered at school is exhausting you
- You notice your child doesn’t know as much as other same-aged kids
- You have family members and friends trying to test your child
I’ve experienced all this before and can tell you with confidence that you can move beyond it.
Let me explain…
Why Do Parents And Kids Struggle With Homeschooling?
The biggest reason new homeschooling families have a hard time is that they’re trying to duplicate the modern school day at home. Sitting for hours focusing on curriculum is not a natural activity! And it will negatively impact your family dynamic if you try to do this at home.
Parents are supposed to be the most loving people in a child’s life. They will naturally learn much more from you than anyone else simply because of your influence over them. But this relationship will definitely change if you now try to be a strict teacher. It may actually feel to them like you’re abusing your power.
If you’ve established your own private school or even if you’re working with a homeschool charter, you’re only required to offer certain subjects (this is unique for each state, check your requirements). Here in California, there is no oversight. You simply need to “take attendance” of when your child is in school.
So it is completely your choice of HOW you homeschool. If you try to adopt the failing modern school system at home, it’s likely your child will lose their love of learning to a degree. And because your loving relationship will be strained with your new role, you’ll be adding unnecessary stress to your lives.
Your homeschooling life can be a very pleasant experience! You just need to let go. A lot. And you’ll need to stop comparing yourself to your child’s old teacher. Stop comparing your child to others. And politely tell your family and friends to mind their own business.
Here’s how it began for us…
How We Started Homeschooling
My son attended a co-op nursery school, but always had a very small class. I was there much of the time and even when we were separated, it was just a few hours a day. So it did not prepare him well for the big social experience and structure of Kindergarten. Unfortunately he also got a taste of bullying and group shaming which I could see were starting to cause some emotional issues. During Spring Break he asked to be pulled out of Kindergarten and we happily complied.
Homeschooling was always my heart’s desire though, so I was fairly prepared. I had already met with a few homeschooling moms and had read some books. But I had a very romantic idea of what I thought homeschooling would be like for us.
I struggled to bring in curriculum. My son refused to do it and would cry and yell. I wanted to pull my hair out. Gradually I just stopped fighting. We went on lots of fun field trips instead and had park play dates with other kids.
I would still try to add in lessons when I could, but unless he asked for it, my son was always clear that it wasn’t working for him. We stopped making him read to us, to write lines or do math workbooks.
Where We Are Currently In Our Homeschool Journey
Now that he’s almost 11, he’s very self-led with his learning. We lean into the subjects that he’s interested in. This gives me time to work on my business at home since I’m no longer leading the lessons, except for when he wants to do science.
We are called “unschoolers”. This simply means that we don’t have any structure at home and do more “life learning” activities. It’s taken awhile for me to accept this, but what is helping me to do so is to simply look at my son. His brilliance amazes me everyday! Somehow, he has better grammar than I do. He’s a natural orator and loves to read out loud to us (his terms only though).
Our lives have very little stress because of this choice to let him lead. I’m not worried about him missing anything. When he needs a certain skill, I trust that he’ll learn it.
I’m not promoting Unschooling for everyone. In fact, if your child has been in school for awhile, they may actually like having some structure and curriculum as they did in school. However, I do feel there needs to be a strong distinction between what you’re now doing at home and what they used to do at school.
Here are my tips:
- Accept that as the parent, you have great influence over your child and that is the power of love. You don’t need to change who you are.
- Trust that your child will self-regulate and get exactly what they need for their schooling to prepare them for their life’s work.
- Lean in when you can, into a subject that your child loves.
- Give your child ample time to play, which is when they learn the most.
- Don’t be afraid of screen time. It is a reality in our age (just stay in control of what they’re exposed to!)
- Try not to yell at your child about learning. Keep it fun.
- Set reasonable boundaries. Even if you’re doing child-led learning, that doesn’t mean the child rules the roost. They help out and contribute to a harmonious home life.
- Look at the bigger picture of what you’re trying to create for your child and what characteristics they’re building.
- Allow yourself and your child to be special. This is what the world needs, creative, freethinking people who specialize – not blind obedience, memorization, and general knowledge.
I hope this list help you to establish your groove and builds your confidence as the homeschool parent. Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions in the comments below.
And if you want more specific tips about keeping your family healthy as you’re learning at home, you can check out this post that I did last year (in the beginning of The Pandemic):
Homeschooling Mom Encouragement Amid Coronavirus Pandemic