Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 50 – How to Succeed at Homeschooling Without Really Trying. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
Ok, so that title is fun, but not really true. You will need to put in the effort here. I know you have heard it many times, but, homeschooling is hard. But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, right? I think we as homeschool parents beat ourselves up a lot. We worry that we’re not doing enough. We worry we are doing too much. Then we worry that our children will turn out weird, that they won’t get into college, and that every single failing or mistake they make is our fault.
But what if I told you that all those worries meant that you are doing your job? Just the fact that we care so much and put so much work and effort into this task of educating our children means we’re doing our best! Will you make mistakes? Of course! But it’s what we learn from those mistakes that matter here.
In today’s tidbit, I wanted to share my advice for how to succeed at homeschooling. And by succeed, I mean raising happy, healthy adults who can do whatever it is they wish to do. Whether that is going to medical school, becoming an electrician, starting their own business, or anything in between.
Ok, so you knew I was going to start here, right? Reading to your children, from a variety of genres, authors, and perspectives, is one of the most important things you can do. I believe it is key to building not just a competent reader, but a child who has a large vocabulary, can empathize, think critically and analytically, and maintains an imagination well into adulthood.
Read books together, talk about what you are reading, and then read some more. And diversify your reading! Read from new and different perspectives and introduce them to genres they might not otherwise explore. It’s tempting to overcomplicate it, but really, just read and discuss. My adult children can still talk animatedly about books we read more than a decade ago. These are the things that stick!
Flexibility is key when it comes to successful homeschooling. You can create the best, most perfect, amazing routine. You can buy all of the best homeschool curricula, and you can make all the plans. But what do you do when your dishwasher leaks, or the dog vomits on your lesson plans? What if the toddler paints their bedroom with the contents of their diaper when you thought they were napping?
Being a homeschooler means being able to keep your composure and get through the day-to-day disasters. Both big and small, whatever comes your way. Sometimes that amazing math curriculum that everyone raves about doesn’t work for your child. That perfect routine you plotted out worked up until your tween decided that they needed to sleep until 10 a.m. or else they are a beast to teach. Your plans can fall apart when you have a sudden medical emergency. Being able to adjust your sails accordingly is key. Have a plan B, a Plan C, maybe even a Plan D. It might feel stressful to have to pivot, but trust me, in the long run, this is the skill that will make or break your homeschool.
Ok, now hear me out. I’m not saying you need to be that parent, the one who gets on the floor and plays all day. The one that creates a million amazing Instagram-worthy craft projects, or anything like that. I’m certainly not trying to add extra stress to your life. What I mean is that you want to be a person that your children enjoy spending time with. It is really easy to become a taskmaster. After all, we are with our children all day, everyday. We get frustrated and start shouting commands. Maybe we have a scowl on our faces more often than we like.
Think about what brings you joy. What do you want to share with your children? Maybe it’s your love of musicals or your favorite 80s movies. Maybe it’s a deep love of nature or animals. Maybe you are amazing with puns. Whatever your thing is, revel in it! We only get 18 short years with these people. Make the most of it!
What does that look like day to day? Drop your routine and have a fun movie day complete with popcorn and snacks. Watch all your favorite films together. Bake together, teach your children how to sew, knit, or whatever craft you love doing. Put on your favorite music while you do chores. Make up silly songs with your kids, get out the crayons, and color with them…just have fun!
But most importantly, listen to them. Find out what they enjoy and join in with them! This might mean you have to learn to play a new video game or learn more about sports than you ever planned. Get to know your kids and find ways to appreciate their interests too.
It’s easy to fall into the idea that you are your child’s teacher and therefore you need to know everything already. You don’t! That sets you up for disaster from the start. The best and most exciting part of homeschooling for me is that I get to learn right along with my children! This homeschooling adventure has absolutely been the best education that I’ve had.
Knowing that you don’t know everything gives you the opportunity to teach your child how to find information. It means when they ask a question, you go through the process of finding the answers together. It means admitting to your child that you don’t know either, and showing them that learning is a life-long endeavor. It means that in your search for answers, you come across different perspectives and ideas that you’d never heard before. This is real learning and it is precisely why we are homeschooling!
Successful homeschooling does NOT mean that you need to create the perfect homeschool room, purchase every exciting new curriculum you discover, join every co-op and class, or send your 12-year-old to college. It also doesn’t mean that we raise exact replicas of ourselves, or what we wish we could have been. It means giving our children the best education possible and teaching them to learn and think for themselves. And you are probably doing all of that already! You are well on your way to success!
If you love your children, read to them, stay flexible, be patient, and have fun. You will raise kids who can become successful at whatever it is they set their minds to.
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.