If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Things I Wish I'd Known as a New Homeschool Mom

I’ve been homeschooling over fourteen years now- counting the kindergarten years.  I’ve graduated my first homeschooler, and I’m close to having another homeschool graduate. That’s pretty hard for me to believe. I’m what is often referred to as a “homeschooling veteran.” (But that doesn’t mean I’m really old. Does it?)

As with all of life, I’ve learned along the way. And there are many things I know now that I wish I had known when I started down this path.  I’m going to share four of the biggies with you.

Keep reading until the end of the post because I’m also sharing a huge Back-to-Homeschool Giveaway! Two moms can win $250 to spend on homeschool curricula. Woohoo! Make sure you enter below.

Things I Wish I'd Known as a New Homeschool Mom

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Don’t spend so much time planning the future that you miss out on the present.

I’m a huge planner. I always have been. So when I began homeschooling, I loved the joy of a blank planner for each year. I loved planning our lessons and choosing curriculum and writing assignments out. In the early years I used physical planners- usually nice big binders- for each year. More recently I use my computer to do my planning and track our schoolwork.

I’m not knocking the planning. I still think it’s important to have structure and routine. But I know there have been times when I’m so busy looking into the future and planning out our learning that I miss the present. I’ve spent time hunched over my binders (or my computer) while kids played and laughed and grew up. And in the long run, maybe I didn’t need to do quite as much planning. Maybe I needed to spend more time just having fun.

Homeschool does not need to be traditional school done at home.

I was a teacher before I had children and began to homeschool. I say that as a confession. Former teachers do not often make good homeschoolers, although people often ask me if I’ve had teaching experience when they find out I homeschool. Having been a teacher does not prepare one to homeschool. There. I said it again. Instead having been a teacher, I set up our homeschool like a school at home.

Thankfully I learned this lesson pretty quickly. Having books set out on tables and desks; saying the pledges every mornings; sitting still and asking permission to get up and down- this was not working for us. (Although I do admit I tried it. All of it.) Learning happens more readily when it happens naturally. And I’ve found that a relaxed environment is more inviting to learning. You won’t see much of a traditional school environment in our house now. You’ll see kids sprawled out any where reading or writing or studying. We definitely aren’t your traditional school.

There is such a thing as too many good things.

Meet up with any group of homeschoolers and you’ll begin to hear it. Moms are discussing the plethora of activities their kids are involved in. Latin, Classical Conversations, homeschool PE, homeschool dance, music lessons, co-ops, homeschool sports groups, book clubs, choir- these are just a sampling of the many activities homeschoolers can be involved in. Even in the twelve years I’ve been homeschooling, the number of homeschoolers has exploded. And with the definite increase in numbers comes an increase in the activities offered. And, at one time, I just wanted to do them all.

I learned that too many days away from home isn’t a good thing. I learned that kids with to much to do get tired and cranky. I learned that a mom who has too many things to do gets tired and cranky. And I realized that even though all these things were good, I couldn’t do them all. When I learned to pick and choose and prioritize, we were all much happier. I still have moments when I commit us to just one more thing and realize I’ve gone overboard. Thankfully I see the signals now and can know I need to start cutting some activities.

Academics aren’t everything.

As a new homeschool  mom, I had read all the studies about homeschool kids scoring better on tests, making better grades in college, obtaining multiple academic based scholarships. But over the years I’ve come to realize that those things aren’t the most important thing. And when I think about the reasons that we homeschool, academics falls pretty low on the list.

I want to teach the kids to do their best at everything they do. And I want them to learn what they need to learn to be prepared for whatever God has next in their lives. But this is so much more than academics. Their relationship with God is more important. Their character is more important. Their relationships within our family are more important. And I always need to remember that.

Struggling with a child who is failing to grasp some math concept can be frustrating. But I remember that my relationship with that child is more important than math. Devotions went extra long because we got into a family discussion about God’s will and how to know it. If we have to cut out some other subject, that’s okay. Because our relationship with God is more important. It’s okay for me to want my children to succeed academically. I just have to keep my eyes on what’s most important.

Things I Wish I'd Known as a New Homeschool Mom

Yes, there are some things I wish I had known when I began this journey. But, to be honest, learning them along the way has been part of the experience. So, new homeschool Mama, enjoy the journey. And learn as you go.

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