The first year of homeschooling is usually the toughest for most families. There is a lot of trial and error as you begin your venture as a homeschooler, but the effort will pay off in the long run. As you work through the growing pains of finding the right schedule, right curriculum, and developing a homeschool plan that works for your family, here are some tips for surviving your first year of homeschooling that will help keep the stress to a minimum.
Set Reasonable Goals
Start your year off with some small, achievable goals for yourself and your children. Instead of setting strict, year-long goals, think weekly or monthly, keeping your long-term goals a little more flexible.
Manage Your Expectations
So many homeschoolers come in very gung-ho at the start of their first school year, with big plans to have perfectly organized school days, finishing their work in two hours a day. Know that just like anything else you do with children, plans don’t always work the way you want.
Always Have a Plan B
Sometimes a lesson plan or project is going to be a flop. This is in no way an indicator of your personal ability to homeschool your children. If something isn’t working the way you’d hoped, just try something new until you find a thing that works.
Though you might be excited to get started, don’t jump straight into your school year with a full schedule of subjects. Choose just one or two subjects to get started and add more once you’re feeling good about how things are going.
Don’t Feel Married to Curriculum
Not every curriculum works for every child. If your carefully selected curriculum isn’t working, don’t force things. It’s easy to find a replacement lesson or supplement with online resources or simply get creative and find real work examples that allow you to teach the same concepts to your kids.
Find Your Tribe
Try out a couple of homeschool groups to find a group that’s a fit for your family. You’ll make new friends, get great tips, and find a great community that can help you navigate your first year of homeschooling.
Don’t stress yourself out if you don’t remember or understand some of the concepts that you are teaching your children. Spend quality time together, learning as a family.
Take a Break When You Need It
When things are getting overwhelming, take a day or two off. Whether you’re the one who needs a break or if it’s the kids who need a change in routine for a few days, use the flexibility you have to take an impromptu long weekend.
Read Your Children’s Cues
No one knows your kids as you do, so pay attention to their cues and reactions. You’ll know when you need to make changes to your routine or switch to another subject.
Find Teachable Moments in Everyday Fun
Leave time for fun and play every day and find the natural life lessons in everything that you do. There are lessons to be learned in every board game, video game, or just spending time running around the playground.
Though the first year of homeschooling isn’t always perfect, it’s a learning experience for everyone. Hang in there, allow yourself to learn from your mistakes, and stay flexible. You’ll quickly start to understand what works for your family and the bumps in the road will smooth out.