Help for New Homeschoolers

I am asked about homeschooling all the time.  Random strangers are often curious about our day and our lifestyle.  People who are unhappy with public school and looking for alternatives are intrigued with the idea that they too can do what I do.

 I am often asked by new homeschooling parents what advice I'd give them.  I'm asked how I structure our day, how I teach multiple grades, how I know if we're doing "enough," am I worried about my kids socialization...

The list of questions goes on and on.

I understand where they're coming from though because I had all the same questions running through my head when I was thinking about and first starting out homeschooling.  Over the years I've tried to answer most of this through various posts and thought today that I'd try to compile most of those posts into one spot for easier reference.

  • When I'm questioned about our lessons and plans I often admit that we don't lesson plan; I used to but found it just never worked for us.  There are other families that plan out everything.  It will take time to find the routine that works for you and we all joke that once you do find that perfect routine life will change and you'll need to find a new one.  Here was our journey to finding what would work for us. 

  • I think one of the hardest parts of homeschooling is believing in oneself.  There are so many doubts circling around in all homeschooling parent's heads.  Are we doing enough?  Are we doing to much?  Are they learning?  What if for some reason we can no longer homeschool and they have to go back to public school?  What if I'm failing at this whole thing?  What if I'm screwing up my child's future.  It's hard and it's daunting, but I do think some doubt, fear, and anxiety (just SOME) is good.  It helps to make sure I'm doing right by my boys but when those fears become overwhelming or when the boys are drowning in schoolwork because I've gone off the deep end trying to over compensate for those fears it helps to remember my goals and my beliefs.  Life is a journey not a race and we learn everyday throughout this whole journey. Perhaps it's best summed up with these two articles: 

  • When asked how I manage to teach three different grades at the same time I explain how we combine certain subjects and how I try to spend some one on one time with them for math and reading.  But, of course, there is more to it than that. 

  • I remember what it felt like to be a new homeschooling mom and after a few years of living the life I couldn't help but think of all that I wished I had known when I started so I wrote a letter to myself (and to everyone else) telling myself everything I wish I had known when I was first starting out:  

  • When asked if we have a special classroom or area of our house that we homeschool in, I try to explain why we don't.  I believe that we learn everywhere all the time and the best part of homeschooling is making the world our classroom.  

  • When asked if I'm worried about my kids socialization I try not to laugh or roll my eyes as I answer the one question that seems to worry everyone the most.  Don't worry, unless you lock yourselves up at home alone you're kids will be socialized! 

  • People often ask if my kids miss public school or were resistant to homeschooling and I can honestly say that they asked to homeschool and remind me repeatedly why they would not enjoy going back to public school.  
  • However, I think most parents assume that kids who wanted to homeschool are overjoyed to work and learn and are the most eager of students everyday.  That is not the case.  My kids do want to be homeschooled and most days they do enjoy learning; however they never enjoy the actual schoolwork.  Most days they willingly complete their work but motivation is always a problem.  I try to keep our work hands on, interesting and relevant which helps tremendously but there are times when we just have to buckle down and do some work.  They don't always agree. 

  • Many parents are not as worried about teaching preschool, kindergarten or even elementary school but find middle school and high school daunting.  I'm honest enough to admit that I feel pretty much the same way and while I have no advice for homeschooling high school I do plan to continue homeschooling as long as my boys would like me to.  I'm hoping when I reach that age I find it as a smooth a transition as I did from teaching elementary to teaching middle.  Because, so far, I'm finding middle school to be fun.  

  • When asked what I consider the pros and cons of homeschooling I often joke that there aren't any cons, but of course there are.  Often I find that the pros and cons go hand in hand and when I'm adding them up the pros obviously outdo the cons (or else why would I still be doing this?!).

  • When asked about how I grade their papers or who checks to make sure we're learning what we're supposed to, I have to explain that I alone am responsible for teaching them and making sure they understand the material but I don't need to grade their papers to know if they're learning or understanding the material.  I only have three students and it's obvious to me most of the time when they do or do not understand a concept we're working on. 

  • A lot of time I feel that people are asking so many homeschooling questions because they are genuinely not sure if homeschooling is right for them.  While I am quick to tell everyone that ANYONE CAN homeschool there are probably times when homeschooling would not be a good fit.  People who are genuinely not sure if they can/ want to homeschool might want to consider that there are times when homeschooling might not be best.  

  • I am often asked how I handle teaching subjects I was not good at in school.  In reality I'm learning alongside my kids.  Everyday they are teaching me things and I know I don't have all the answers.  Luckily I know that together we can find the answers-- by asking for help from someone else, reading more about the topic, etc.  My worst subject was history in school and I dreaded memorizing names, dates and places.  I have made certain to teach my boys history in a fun, engaging way focusing on the story and the background and not so much on the dry facts.  


  1. I don't plan so much as gather, which becomes a bit of a plan. Then I try and list all the things we've done each day that stand out to me because I like that satisfied feeling of seeing what we accomplished. This includes things we've watched, listened to, parks we've visited, lunch with the grandparents, whatever. I figure it's a good habit for me to get into since, even though Gv is too young for me to be required to register her as a homeschooler, I'll have to provide this type of documentation when she does reach that age.

    1. That's mostly how I handle it too. I have books or activity ideas that I know I want to do with the boys and each day I do a quick summary of what we accomplished which helps me feel less like we're neglecting their learning.


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