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Letter to My 1st Year Self


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I’ve had people ask me what I’d do differently if I could go back to the beginning of our family’s homeschool journey. I’ve shared the things I’d change if I could have a homeschool do-over, but that’s not quite the same as what I might tell my 1st year self. (Because, you know, we’re kind of blunt with ourselves.) I think this is what I’d tell that terrified young mom…

If I could send a letter back to myself the 1st year I homeschooled, this is what I'd say.

Dear Me,

So, you’re thinking about homeschooling? I know you’re scared. You’re wondering if you’re making the right choice. You’re wondering if you can do this and if you’re going to ruin your kids. Those fears are pretty common to all homeschool moms, but there are some things you need to know.

First, think long and hard about this. I mean, I know you’re doing that – but do it some more. Pray about it, because there are going to be times when you’re going to wish you hadn’t decided to homeschool. It’s hard. There are going to be times when you wonder what your lives – yours and the kids’ – would be like if you had left them in public school or even chosen private school instead.

Homeschooling doesn’t look like it does in your daydreams. Of course, maybe it would be a bit closer if you’d try to go more with your vision instead of getting so caught up in what you think your kids need to know when. (Yeah, quit buying those “What Your {Whatever} Grader Needs to Know” books. Use that money for for a field trip instead.)

Remember, that sweet little white-blonde, blue-eyed girl needs you to be her mama first and her teacher second. She needs to know that you think she’s amazing and can overcome whatever academic struggles she faces. She needs to know that you had a hard time with long division, too.

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And, that little red-headed toddler and his matching baby sister? Don’t rush them into formal learning. Sure there’s lots you want them to know, but there’s plenty of time. Take them – and Blondie over there – on nature walks. Paint, draw, color, play with Play-doh. Have fun.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that you’re going to do a horrible job or that you’ll be living a life full of regrets in a few years. I’m just saying that: 1) homeschooling isn’t all rainbows and unicorns and 2) it’s really okay to relax a little bit.

If it makes you feel better, you’re going to do a great job choosing Sing, Spell, Read, and Write. It’s going to be a great fit for Brianna. You probably would have liked All About Spelling and All About Reading better, but they won’t be around for awhile, so it’s all good.

Oh, and pick up as many of the Classic Starts titles as you can get your hands on. They’re awesome! One day, Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler is going to create a whole series of unit studies/lapbooks to go with them…but I probably shouldn’t tell you that. Her kids are much younger than yours, so you won’t really be able to take advantage of that. Read the books, anyway. They’re such a great way to introduce your kids to the classics.

You’re going to do a good job choosing curriculum for the younger years, too. Story of the World is a fantastic introduction to history and it’s full of those hands-on activities you love so much. Just don’t get too caught up in the rigorous classical style of homeschooling. You’re more Charlotte Mason than you think. You’ll probably want to read some books by Ruth Beechik, too.

You’re going to be very happy with the Christian Kids Explore science series and REAL Science Odyssey. Don’t be afraid to learn science by just exploring and having fun either. Oh, and you’re going to love Trail Guide to Learning, so be watching for it to be published.

Go ahead and get started on Teaching Textbooks as soon as you can. And, go ahead and pick some of the curriculum I just mentioned right off the bat. Sure, writing your own unit studies is fun, but it’s a lot of work. Your time would be better spent playing with your kids.

See? Look how fast they’re growing already. They’re quite adorable, aren’t they?

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Enough about curriculum, though. Yes, you need it, but it’s just a tool. Remember that. The big things to keep in mind are:

  • Have fun with your kids. They grow up way too fast. Read great books. Play. Explore. Do more art. Oh, and when Brianna wants to quit the art class that is making art more school than fun, let her – but look for a fun alternative. Art is going to be a huge part of her life, so nurture that talent. Oh, and start Megan in gymnastics as soon as she’s old enough. Yeah, Brianna only enjoyed it for a few years, but it’s going to be a passion for Megan.
  • Go on more playdates. Don’t consider them an interruption to school. Yes, school is important, but so are relationships. Go ahead and get on a six weeks on/one week off schedule with a built-in catch-up day and you’ll be set. You’re welcome.
  • Don’t kick your kids out of the academic nest too soon. They need you to remain involved.
  • Remember why you’re doing this. Being able to answer the why do you homeschool question is vital – not for everyone questioning you. For you. On the hard days.
  • Shut down the computer. Kids grow up while you’re staring at that screen. Stare at their faces instead. The Internet will wait; their childhood won’t.

You’ve got this, 1st Year Me. You’re going to do just fine.

Love,

Me

What would you tell your 1st year self?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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6 Comments

  1. I am still in my first “year” of homeschooling, but even if I could go back 1 year when I was first deciding to leave the classroom for my own home, I would tell myself to chill. Take a deep breath. Snow days are ok (because building snowmen is awesome), snuggling is just as important as spelling, and it’s ok if he falls a little behind in math. I don’t need to follow the standards like I did in the classroom and he is being homeschooled because he learns differently and can’t sit in a chair for hours, much less minutes, at a time, so be patient and sit on the floor with him. Hug more and lose your patience less. It’s going to be ok.

  2. I just want to encourage moms out there that if God is pushing you in this direction, don’t ignore that or be deterred by family or friends who aren’t supportive of the idea. Also, don’t let your fear stand in the way. God knows the big picture and you should follow the instincts he’s giving you. You know it’s Him if the idea comes up over and over.

    I chose to homeschool to provide a wholesome environment, but God knew what was ahead and that my children would need this for more than the wholesome environment perk. I have two with dyslexia and another with dysgraphia and dyscalculia, which I never would have guessed early on.

    Yesterday after church my 2nd grade daughter told me she feels like an idiot in her half-hour class there because after the main large-group teaching and music time, she is given word searches or some other worksheet, which are pretty much nightmares for the young dyslexic.

    The teachers don’t have a clue that my child feels stupid, even though her intellect is actually amazing. They don’t have a clue that one in five people are dyslexic and that my child is not the only one wondering why church is just an extension of the typical public-school classroom. They even ask the kids to read aloud from the Bible, which she is just now able to read a little bit from, 2/3 of the way through All About Reading 2. But it is a struggle and she only feels safe trying it at home. At home, she welcomes the challenge.

    My child with dysgraphia once offered to do the writing in a church class when they were assigned a group project. When the other kids saw his penmanship, which is larger than appropriate for his age, and noticed that he isn’t a terrific speller, they ridiculed him and took the paper from him so they could do the writing. He handled this okay, but a steady diet of it in the regular classroom would be demoralizing to say the least.

    My kids feel empowered at home to be who God created them to be. I shudder to think what a regular classroom would do to their psyches.I used to be a teacher before they were born, so I don’t blame the teachers for not knowing about dyslexia. They simply aren’t trained to pick up on this or to look out for it. Few people understand what is involved or that most of these kids are quite intelligent, and could show it if asked to verbally express themselves. Everything is mostly paper and pencil because it tends to be quieter and keep kids orderly, generally speaking.

    In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. If God puts the homeschooling idea in your head, consider it rock-solid wisdom and don’t look back. He will equip you and bless you all, for his glory. Even on your worst days in your homeschool, he will be there, molding and changing, refining you like gold.

    Don’t underestimate how important it is to have the freedom to be who God created you to be. I think my children would use two sentences to explain why they value homeschooling: They feel loved. They feel free.

    1. I can so relate to everything you just said. I have two with dyslexia, as well. I have actually suspected that the third has some degrees of dyslexia, too, but is strong enough in other areas (such as memorization) to mask it. I totally get what you’re saying about church being an extension of a public school classroom. Oh, the stories I could tell about that. I’m so glad we chose to homeschool!

  3. I would tell myself not to rush. Not to rush to help them be responsible; not to rush to help them to read; not to rush when they need a cuddle; not to rush when they want to talk about bugs and beetles. Not to rush. Time will pass too quickly anyway, without any help from me. I would remind myself they are precious and different and just as God intended them to be, struggles and all; that things will happen on His schedule not mine so, really, there is no point in rushing.

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