Dear New Homeschool Mom or Dad...
|Looking up close at her make up|
This month's topic for the Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team is to write a letter to a homeschool mom. I am in my 10th year of homeschooling and hope this letter will be helpful to new homeschool parents. The majority are homeschool moms but there are amazing dads out there providing awesome homeschool experiences to their children too!
Dear New Homeschool Mom or Dad,
Take a deep breath and let it out with a big sigh!
You have made the decision to go against the norm and homeschooling might be the biggest, most wonderful adventure you will get to have as a parent! It can also be the source of a lot of stress and a lot of doubt.
You are a caring loving parent who wants the best for your children. Depending on many different circumstances or a variety of reasons, some families will choose to send their children to public school or private school, while others will choose the home education route. As a parent, you do what you believe is best for your own children.
As you go through your very first few weeks of homeschooling, take time to just enjoy being with your children. No matter how old they are, this is key! When they are little, sit on the floor with them and play. When they are older, sit with them and play! Really, the idea is the same. Connect with your children.
|Poetry Tea Time and Sierpinski Triangle with Candy Corn Candy|
Homeschooling will be a much more enjoyable experience if you have a deep connection with your children, I believe that from the bottom of my heart. Homeschooling isn't about being a teacher that hands out assignments and gives lectures to students. Homeschooling is more about relationships and connections. Relationships and connections with each other but also with the homeschool community, relatives, friends, and the community at large. I believe this is a vital part of homeschooling. These connections will be important for learning too!
The academics will be part of the experience too, regardless of what educational philosophy you follow. Children naturally learn, even if you "don't do anything". They are natural sponges, so don't stress too much about how much to cover or which is the perfect curriculum, especially during this first year of homeschooling. Get to know where your children are at, especially if they were in the school system before coming home. Find out their knowledge of math and language arts. There is no need to run out and buy curriculum, especially if you don't know where they are academically. You might end up purchasing the wrong level of math and creating a frustrating or boring year for your student and yourself. Many homeschool curriculum have free placement tests, in particular for math, use these if you need to!
Follow their interests! For example, my daughter was interested in pirates so she read a ton of books about pirates, then put what she learned and found interesting in a lapbook. Celeste wanted to learn about the history of fashion, instead of just "regular" history, so we did a little History of Fashion History Study. My son was fascinated by Greek Myths so we read about them and put a notebook together. The choices are endless and as unique as your children are. Discover what they are curious about!
|World Maths Day ~ a fun competition online to test math skills|
Be willing to adapt and change. As you go through the next months together, be willing to be flexible. If something isn't working, find out why and be willing to change. Ask questions. Investigate! The more you know about your children and how they learn, the better you will be able to custom create your homeschool experience for your child. The better the fit, the better the experience for both of you.
|Big brother teaching his little sister ~ Cooking Fun|
Think outside the box. Learning takes place all the time and everywhere. Cooking together, for example, can be a great learning experience: reading and following a recipe, measuring ingredients, talking about science with heat if using the oven... A walk around your neighborhood could prompt learning about nature, history, culture...
|Our current library stack of books |
~ much smaller than it used to be, with only one homeschooling now!
I would highly recommend that you get yourself a library card, if you don't already have one. Better yet, if your library has a limit on taking out books, get each of your children their own library cards! Most homeschool families I know and have known over the years, use multiple cards for the piles and piles of books they check out every time they visit their local library! Get to know the inter-library loan system and if there are more than one branch in your library system, take advantage of that too! If you are not familiar with all these library terms, spend some time getting educated during your next visit! Speak with the librarian, they are there to help you!
|Sports Day with Homeschool Friends|
I would encourage you to befriend other homeschool families. As I wrote earlier in this letter, it's important to connect with the homeschool community for your children and yourself. Even if you only find one other homeschool family that you can truly connect with! You will appreciate being able to talk to someone who understands your situation. Your children will very likely love having playmates that also homeschool. Online homeschool communities are great as well for support, for chatting about curriculum, successes and challenges.
|NaNoWriMo + Sewing|
Finally, but super important too is to not forget about yourself! Don't forget your interests, passions, hobbies, personal goals! Homeschooling can take up a lot of your time and focus, but try to include little moments for yourself too, preferably every day. Some days and depending on the ages of your children you might be able to have one hour to yourself, other times maybe only a handful of minutes...Take advantage of these quiet moments, have a cup of tea and do something for you. The dishes and laundry will be there when you are ready for them! These stolen moments for yourself will help prevent homeschool mom burnout. Trust me!
If you would like to read more about this topic, I had a post that is one of my favourites, written in August 2011, at the start of our 6th year of homeschooling: What I have Learned.
|Fun at the skate park with our bikes ~ Nature Trail Selfie ~ Handling local snakes at the library|
Above all this insider's advice...have fun and enjoy this amazing adventure! You will get to spend a ridiculous amount of time with your children, embrace that and you will have memories that will last forever!
|Family fun at a lake in Ontario|
Check out other "dear homeschool mom" letters from members of the Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team at The Canadian Homeschooler.