To the Mama of Little Kids Who Plans to Homeschool; 12 bits of advice:
(I’m coming at this as a homeschool graduate. My husband and I both are homeschool graduates. This advice was given to me by older moms, including my own mother and my mother in law, about homeschooling my children. Some advice I ignored and regretted; other advice I took and was so glad that I did. My children are now in middle school and high school and doing well.)
1. First of all, relax. You have a long time before you need to worry about schooling.
Just relax and enjoy those babies!
Many many of us wish we had done so when we had babies, and now ours are teens or adults.
2. Don’t push education too early. Homeschooling was started by people who thought formal schooling should wait until a child was older, say 9 or 10 years old.
Learning should be as organic and natural as possible. The less contrived and public-school-looking the better in my experience.
Just because there’s a “normal” way to do it doesn’t make it the best way.
Who decided that the “normal” way was correct?
Why does that person have any say in what happens to my children in my home?
3. Focus on life skills when they’re little and absolutely do not give into the pressure to make your child learn any earlier than they’re ready.
Every mom I know who started formal school too young regretted it later.
Preschool has no proven advantage. It’s not a race to see who can learn the most soonest.
Ignore and avoid those who treat homeschooling like that.
4. Focus on your relationship with the child.
You need a good solid relationship, in my humble opinion, to make homeschooling work smoothly.
You don’t want to fight the children every step of the way if you don’t have to. Obedient children make better students, and it’s hard to homeschool children who won’t listen to you.
This is a foundational part of homeschooling.
5. Teach them that learning is fun.
You want them to find joy in learning so that they will choose to learn. So make learning even at 2 or 3 years old as fun as you can. Don’t pressure or impose your anxiety on them. They’ll feel it.
6. Don’t expect them to do hard and unenjoyable learning when they’re young. If they’re not having fun, and you’re pushing, it’s damaging.
I’ve even seen parents bully their kids in this situation. That’s not good.
If your child learns that learning is fun now, they’re far more likely to choose to learn later even when learning gets harder because they have seen the value and reward of learning.
7. The goal is to make life-long learners. You can’t possibly teach them everything they’ll need to know in their life in 12 years. No one can, not even public school teachers.
So, you want them to continue to learn long after homeschool is a just a memory.
8. Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s a right way to homeschool.
What works for one teachers and child (as far as curriculum, method, etc.) varies. Keep that in mind.
Even this list of advice would not be useful if you had a child who was extremely advanced or brilliant.
If you want to get a head start, this teaching style test might be insightful.
9. Play with them. Teach them new things naturally while you’re playing and talking. Let anything that even resembles school work wait.
You won’t regret it.
10. I would start now by finding out your state laws. That’s imperative to know.
Know what’s legally required, especially the age at which a child has to registered or in which you have to notify your local school district.
Each state has unique laws.
11. Let them work beside you and learn about life by being with you.
They’re learning all the time even when we don’t realize it.
They will learn how to behave like an adult by being around adults, not by spending time primarily with children their own age. So make sure they’re given age-appropriate responsibility and exposed to multiple age groups.
This is why the issue of socialization is such a farce. If you’re exposing the children to multiple age groups, they’re getting superior socialization than anything the public school.
12. Most of all remember that kids, especially little kids, learn by playing. So let them play. They’re only little once.
You’ll never get this time back with them.
Enjoy it while you can.