But, I Don’t Know How to Start The whole Homeschool Thing

One of the biggest reasons that some parents shy away from homeschooling I have noticed is their “idea” of a lack of resources. This comes in various forms. the most popular problems I hear are:

  • I can not afford the curriculum and resources, especially not with multiple children in different grades.
  • We can not afford to have one parent quit their job to homeschool
  • I want to homeschool but we don’t have a space for a homeschool room
  • I would love to homeschool but I don’t think I am equipped to teach.
  • I am not patient enough to homeschool my kids, but I wish I could.

I understand where all of these parents are coming from when I hear these things. I thought the same things myself before I started homeschooling. I have some responses to all of the frequently heard homeschooling excuses and I understand it can all seem a little overwhelming if you have never tried to homeschool before. However, I wanted to pay some special attention to “I want to homeschool but we just do not have space for a homeschool room.” Who started this “You NEED a homeschooling ROOM” thing? I would really like to know!

A homeschooling room, while awesome if you have the space for one, is absolutely 100% NOT NECESSARY. You can homeschool ANYWHERE. If you have never homeschooled before and are wanting to branch out and try it, I will give you some quick tips about how you can start off your homeschooling journey the easy way.

Once you can get past not having a dedicated room (if you dont have that space) there are some other usual questions and issues that usually arise. Here are my tips to overcomign those obstacles.

  1. The first step is to be confident in your decision to homeschool.If you find it in your heart that homeschooling is best for your children do not let outsiders talk you out of it. If you will be the responsible person for putting in the time to educate do not let others, who have nothing to do with the education process of your children, become involved in your decisions.

2. The second step is to think about where the most effective and distraction-free area of your house is. A key to a homeschooling room is that the area is designated for homeschool only. That way when the kids enter it, they are in school mode. Also – I use the word “room” reallllly loosely here. You do not need an entire “room” blocked off for this. For many families this is unrealistic. Especially families that are one income families. If you think that the kitchen table is the best space… do it! If you have a sun room thats perfect during the school months.. try it, if you have an office/ spare bedroom that you can fit a table or desk in…. why not?! Find the spot that you think would be best for your kids and work it out.

3. Consider your childrens learning and personality styles. For example, I have a child who is artistically gifted but he does not like to do artsy projects for school. He likes to do art as his own enjoyment and expression. He does not like his art to be directed and structured by a lesson or a teacher. We do not do a lot of project based school work because it ruins his creative outlet and interest. Instead we do more of traditional schooling but we study some subjects that has a high interest in. Of course, we must hit all of the subjects at one pont in our year or another, but if this semester he has a high interst in astronomy that is what we will study for science. The basics and core principals of science will be in there. We will just learn about them as we learn about astronomy as he will stay highly engaged this way.

Also – if you know that you are worried about how to plan and manage all of homeschool buy curriculum. Buy it used or put it together as cheaply as you can if budget is your main concern, but think of way that make sense for you to not burn out on teaching, and for your student to not burn out on learning styles that dont work with them.

4. Take breaks. If you find that you are homeschooling and everyweek you can not get all your assignments finished, or you are always spending too many hours on school each day then take a step back. Be realistic. Some weeks, you may have a doctors appointment, a sick sibling, a spouse who needs assistance with something, an out of town sporting event and that is ok. Keep your records of school days off and school days on correct and you can make sure that you are having enough days off and enough days on in your year. You may also be over scheduling yourself. Overscheduling school work is ok, as long as you know you DON’T have to do EVERYTHING. I like to have TOO many options that way if we move quickly through a few subjects I have some other assignments left over to review with.

5. Mingle with other homeschoolers. Ok, so this should probably be higher than #5 actually! When we first started homeschooling I did not know any other homeschoolers in our area. I met a couple families at the park that were homeschooling but they did not really have any real interest in doing any type of academics in a group. That was fine, but I also did not have any interest in doing any special activity that I had to pay for with their kids either. That first year we invested a lot of money in curriculum, a little money in sports, and a lot invested in travel. We learned just as much and had just as many educational experiences traveling as a family than we would have had with the group activities. However, I joined a co-op group a few years later and I thought that doing this was a huge improvement in our overall homeschooling experience. It gave my kids a chance to make friends, I got to make friends, and we got to learn a lot of cool things through the classes that the co-op provided. This also gave us a sense of belonging since we had moved into a new area. Without the co-op I would have not known a single person in our new area. My husband would have been really busy with work and I would have felt much more “blah” about the entire experience.

6. Do not join the first homeschool group or co-op that you find. I think you have to weigh your options. The first group that seems great might not be the best fit, the closest group, the cheapest group, they wont necessarily be the right fit. Try some out, ask to meet them, ask any questions that you can think of. Even ask to come to an event they have if you are allowed to. Check out the area and the space that the co-op or group is held. For us the best group was not the least expensive, however it was close to our home, it did not have rigorious academics like we intended, but it did have great activities and classes that were outside of the box that I could not have provided my children with on my own. The greatest benefit to it is that my kids are having a great time getting to know new friends.

7. You don’t need the most popular curriculum. Sometimes the most popular curriculum and what you keep reading reviews about, and hearing about others buying it…well… it might not be for you. Don’t think that because the lady from church bout this $850 boxed curriculum that it is better or her kids are going to be any smarter than yours after the school year just because she got it and you didn’t. Biy according to what you can realistically afford and what works with your teaching style and your childrens learning style. I made this mistake the hard way – don’t do it!

8. Get Organized! That is it. Do whatever you have to do, printa a monthly calendar, buy a fancy planner. Whatever. Do whatever you have to do to get organized. Make some plans and stick to them! Plan on giving yourself time for just school and no distractions, plan some time for you to have to clean up the house after school and a designated time for chores every day. This will help you. Make a meal plan that includes lunches! This will save you! Have plans and write them down! Use them! your life will be less hectic and you will feel less stress. Kids will be less stressed as well.

9. Find your stressor and just let it go! So – read alouds arent your thing? You are struggling to get them done with multiple ages? Toss out the book list you have if you can and go get free cds from the library, use audio books from your library, or itunes. Washing dishes after lunch taking to much study time? Divide it up between the kids or **gasp** get some papers plates for a few months. Just whatever it is that is making it difficult to get things done in homeschool – cut it out! Even cutting out one simple thing can make a difference.

10. Enjoy school. Yes, enjoy schooling. If that means making your bible time at 10 am after everyone has had breakfast and done there own thing for a while – fine. If that means everyone reads their own bible in their own rooms at 6 am befor ebreakfast- fine. Just find the schedule and times that are best for you. Do not force something that just is not your style. There is no right way to homeschool and that is prob ably one of the reasons that you are homeschooling in the first place.