Second-Chance Homeschooling: 5 Lessons I Learned Homeschooling My Oldest Kids

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Written by Sara Dennis of Classically Homeschooling.

You know how they say you don’t get second chances. They’re wrong. Sometimes you do! My oldest two children have graduated and are attending college, but my youngest two are in K and 1st grade.

I get a second chance at getting this homeschooling gig right!

Homeschool Lessons

1. Focus on diligence, not progress.

The first time through I kept focusing on progress. Were we at grade level, were the kids ahead, were we on schedule? The moment we fell behind, I started to push. Maybe we can double up lessons, do a page a day.

Work, work, work, we have a schedule to keep!

And you know, it didn’t work. Focusing on progress actually slowed down our progress. Eventually, I learned to focus on diligence. Diligence means you sit down to do the work every day.

Instead of insisting my daughter complete one page of Phonics Pathways like her older siblings did, I allowed her to stop after a third or even a quarter of a page when the going was tough. Sure the progress has been slow, but it’s been steady.

And I stopped calculating how quickly we can finish the book.

2. Enjoy content subjects.

When you have a child struggling with reading, writing, and math, you can be tempted to skip history and science until your child learns to read. After all, the 3-R’s are the most important academic skill you can have.

But just as you’re laying a solid foundation in math as the kids learn to add, subtract, and multiply, you’re also laying a foundation in the other subjects.

High school biology is easier when you know the parts of a cell. History makes more sense when you’re aware of the story. Music is more entertaining when you’re familiar with the instruments.

It’s not that we completely skipped the content subjects, it’s that I didn’t spend as much time on history, science, and geography as I did the 3-Rs. And I regretted it the moment the kids hit high school.

This time through, I’m giving the content subjects equal billing.

3. Perfection doesn’t exist.

Have you ever gone searching for the perfect curriculum? I have! When I first started homeschooling, I was certain it was possible to have the perfect homeschool, the perfect curriculum, and the perfect schedule.

Yeah, just like trying to be the perfect parent.

Unfortunately, the perfect homeschool doesn’t exist. There is no curriculum that will solve all your problems or a schedule which will magically make the homeschool work.

Instead of trying to be the perfect parent with the perfect homeschool, I’m concentrating on enjoying this second chance.

I’m enjoying teaching enthusiastic kids who adore reading about pyramids and not worrying if I’m homeschooling right.

Second-Chance Homeschooling: 5 Lessons I Learned Homeschooling My Oldest Kids

4. You don’t need all the extras.

There’s a lot to be said for homeschooling with a pile of engaging books, a stack of paper, and quality art supplies. After all, the early homeschoolers did an excellent job educating their children with very little beyond a library card and a math textbook.

There were no online academies, there were no fancy curricula developed just for homeschoolers, and there were no support forums.

That’s not to say that being able to find that fabulous curriculum which makes science easy isn’t a perk of living in today’s world. I adore having the option of enrolling my kids in an online academy, and DVD lectures have raised the bar in my homeschool to a new height.

But the extras aren’t what’s going to make or break your homeschool. In the end diligence and working with what you are what make the difference.

5. Relax. It all works out in the end.

Over the years I have made many mistakes in my homeschool. I focused on progress rather than diligence, and we lost ground. I searched for the perfect curriculum rather than focusing on using what we had – a solid curriculum which got the job done.

The kids loathed that ‘better’ math program the other homeschoolers were raving about. We homeschooled around work hours, homeschooled on bed rest, and homeschooled during construction projects. There were days I wept because we were homeschool failures.

But now, the oldest kids are thriving in college. I wasn’t a homeschool failure.

With my second chance, I’m not worrying about how quickly we can progress through the material. I’m not on a quest for the perfect curriculum, method, or schedule which will solve all my problems me. And I’m not looking for extras to do the work for me.

Instead, I’m focused on enjoying my homeschool, watching my little children eyes light up as they learn how Egyptians made mummies, and concentrating on diligence.

After all, it turns out just fine in the end.

What have you learned about homeschooling that would change the way you’d do things if given a second chance?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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  1. Sara, I love your blog. You are one of my favorite go to moms for classical homeschooling. I just wanted to say I’m one of those moms that’s been given a second chance. I have twin almost 14 year olds about to start high and a toddler who will be 3 this summer. I would also have to agree that being diligent is the main concern for me. Also not worrying anymore about what my friends homeschooled kids are doing, but keeping my focus on our family.
    Great post I’m keeping this in my favorites as a reminder.

  2. I’m doing homeschooling second time around as well. It’s good to hear your reflections on past ‘mistakes’ and how it’s helped to shape your current journey. Thanks for sharing.

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