I get asked about homeschooling a lot. Many people have entered my home for one reason or another, and almost immediately asked, “Do you homeschool?” I used to be one of those people, curious about this alternate universe and wondering if I could, or should, live there too. What would it look like? How would I know if I was doing it right?
When I decided to homeschool, I went looking for answers. I was quickly tempted, disoriented, then discouraged by Pinterest searches. It was full of contradictions. Everyone claimed the best schedule or curriculum or method or blog or room layout or supply list. I learned I needed less suggestions, not more. One or two mentors was better than ten or twelve. A straw, not a firehose, is the only way to drink in homeschooling.
Plenty of online strangers were more than happy to tell me the right way to homeschool. But when I asked the mentors whose opinions I most value about curriculum or classroom furniture or daily schedule, their answers seemed nebulous.
And now, as a mentor myself, I know why.
Because schedules and curriculum and classroom setup may seem like the logical place to start, but they’re not. Not only that, but they are subject to change. And they are unique to each family. They were not the formula for successful homeschooling that I was searching for.
So what is? What will make sure my kids get a quality education? Everyone says to do what’s right for your family, but how do I know what’s right for us?
Start with your why.
Pin down not how you’ll do this homeschooling thing, but why you’ve decided to do it in the first place. Why you want it, why you’ll keep going when it gets hard.
Then figure out your philosophy of education.
Then look at your children (and yourself) as people, as learners. How do they learn best? What are their strengths? What are yours?
Then write your mission, and a vision will slowly materialize. Get clear on your why and on your commitment, and the how will take care of itself.
I remember wanting so badly to feel solid in the curriculum, schedule, and homeschooling method that would be right for us. But the truth is, they will always evolve. Just like everything else in parenting, the minute you think you have it figured out, it changes again.
But that won’t sound so scary after a while. Because you’ll slowly realize what really makes a homeschool a homeschool.
I have found that when the environment, the role model, and the relationships are sound, my children’s learning follows. So the longer I homeschool, the less I worry about and research curriculum, and the more I work on myself and my relationships with my kids.
As Charlotte Mason famously said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
Everything you think you know about school and education will crumble almost immediately when you begin homeschooling. It will put your flaws and shortcomings under a microscope. And it should. Because homeschooling isn’t just for your kids. It’s for you. You will be forced to rethink your beliefs, broaden your views, and redefine things you thought were set in stone. Just as we want our kids to learn to do.
Your children will learn exactly what they are supposed to, sometimes because of—and sometimes in spite of—your best efforts. And a more beautiful, more compassionate, more intelligent you will rise from the ashes.
Your only enemy is fear. And your fears are imaginary.
So let your goal be not to mold your children a certain way, but to allow your children to surprise you. Choose the child over the lesson. Run with your strengths, and have the courage to let them run with theirs, no matter what it looks like.
Homeschooling will be nothing and everything like you imagined.
Be willing to surprise yourself.
Because you will.