Are you clawing through your first year of homeschooling?
Wondering if you’re going to make it? Will your homeschool be successful?
We are over half way through our third year of homeschooling now, and I have been in your shoes.
I didn’t know if I was crazy for thinking I could homeschool, how I was going to make it work, or if I was going to fall on my face.
I was so unsure of myself, that we started homeschooling in July, so that if everything fell apart, I could still enroll my oldest daughter in school.
After putting a few years of homeschooling under my belt and spending time with many successful homeschool moms, I have noticed some common trends that I believe point towards success.
Don’t start skimming down the list, throw your hands up and say, “I knew this wasn’t going to work out! My homeschool will definitely be a failure. I should just quit now.”
This list isn’t meant to be a measuring stick for your homeschool.
It’s meant to be a list of goals to work towards or areas to focus on.
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Don’t freak out if you don’t have every single area covered – nobody does!
Every homeschool mom (who is honest), will admit having ups and downs and struggles in different areas.
That is normal.
So, look through this list and be thankful for the areas you are rocking it as a homeschool mom, and take inventory of the areas your homeschool is vulnerable.
There are PLENTY of people out there who are going to question your decision to homeschool.
They will make you feel uncomfortable as they give you strange looks, ask you rude questions, and feel the right to quiz your children on every random fact they can think of.
I have had people (one of which was a perfect stranger) that have told me I was making the wrong choice to homeschool my kids and they absolutely needed to be in school.
This kind of behavior from people is hard to handle for a homeschool mom, but it is hopefully only encountered when you leave your house.
Sadly, I have heard of and talked to far too many homeschool moms who are getting similar dialogue from their spouse.
He either doesn’t agree with homeschooling at all, is very skeptical and not afraid to say it, or has his wife on some kind of schedule – “If he isn’t doing X by the end of the year then we’re putting him back in school.”
This imbalance with your spouse can cause a significant strain on your homeschool.
Navigating your journey of homeschooling is stressful enough, without your spouses watchful eye critiquing and judging any progress you make (or lack of progress).
The kids can sense this too and it causes them to doubt mom’s abilities to teach and potentially rebel against her authority.
But if you have a spouse that supports you and believes in you as a homeschool mom, that is an indescribable asset that will contribute greatly to your success.
***I do not believe that you should continue with homeschooling to the detriment of you marriage. A stable family home is more important for your children than almost anything. Check out 4 Reasons I Would Quit Homeschooling for more info and help in this area.
This is a bit controversial in some homeschooling circles, but your chances of homeschool success will sky rocket if you have one parent whose sole focus is homeschooling the children.
There are of course homeschool moms who work from home or have unique work schedules/childcare options that allow them to work outside the house.
I am sure they would tell you though that homeschooling and working a job is rough.
Homeschooling and working can be a recipe for spreading yourself so thin that both mom and kids get burned out.
I met a mom at our first co-op who worked weekends as a veterinarian at a 24 hour animal hospital. I was super impressed that she was able to “have it all.”
I told her how lucky I thought she was. She turned to me and said in a snappy voice, “Oh, you think I’m lucky to never have a day off. Ever.” And then she went back to what she was doing.
That mom needed a nap you guys.
If you are blessed enough to be able to put your sole focus on your homeschool, that is a huge gift to you and your kids!
If you are working, but interested in trying to be a stay at home parent, check out “How We Live on One Income to Make Homeschooling Possible” for a little inspiration!
If you are working, and that’s not going to change – Check out one of my favorite blogs – Practical By Default. It is written by a working homeschool mom for homeschool working moms! She has many tips and solutions to help you navigate your homeschool journey better.
Especially in your first year of homeschooling, having a group of other homeschoolers to talk to, bounce things off of, and learn from will be a huge help in predicting your homeschool success.
There are so many questions that will come up – how long should this take, am I doing too much, am I doing enough, should I switch curriculums, should I take a break, is this normal or not normal, etc.
I have received such support and reassurance from other homeschool moms over the years. They understand where you are at and have experience you can benefit from.
They celebrate your achievements, keep you accountable, pick you up when you’re down, and remind you why you’re even doing this crazy thing called homeschooling.
If you are trying to figure out this homeschool thing on your own, you are missing out!
Look for co-ops in your area, homeschool play groups, or other homeschool meet ups. Build into the community you have and you will not regret it!
It may very well be the thing that makes or breaks your homeschool success.
No matter what type of curriculum you are using, what kind of learning style your kid has, what teaching style you lean towards, planning ahead is a key indicator of long term homeschool success.
Of course there are seasons of life and certain times that you will wake up in the morning and have no idea what is going on with school that day.
But that shouldn’t be the norm.
Significant periods of disorganization, no planning, and general “fly by the seat of your pants” school – will quickly become draining to the whole family.
Kids see that school is not your priority and they will respond accordingly.
You don’t have to plan a whole year out, but having an overview of the week and reviewing your lessons the night before will do a lot to produce smoother homeschool days.
For more help with planning, check out The Simple Homeschool Planner: Free Planner You will Actually Use
Explosions of anger and unchecked body language are a cancer to any homeschool – and I’m not just talking about your kids.
If you are new to homeschooling or just looking into it, you may find it hard to imagine that anybody would be tempted to yell, sigh heavily, roll their eyes, show signs of impatience, storm off, or other such behavior during homeschooling.
But trust me, it’s an easy trap to fall in.
Learning to control my emotions, body, and face (something I call “facial discipline”) was a serious challenge for me!
But it is a crucial part of ensuring your long term success. No child wants to grow up with an easily irritable homeschool mom who models anger, impatience, and frustration.
If you struggle with anger and impatience, my favorite tip is to pretend you are an actual teacher in a classroom.
How would you feel if you saw a teacher look at your kid that way during a lesson?
How would you feel if you saw a teacher talk to your kid that way?
How would you feel if you saw a teacher sigh or roll their eyes while your child was struggling with something?
You’d probably be pretty mad.
You should hold yourself to at least the same standard you would hold a teacher in the classroom when it comes to how you treat your kids.
If you are excited about learning, your students will sense that and naturally follow after you.
As I homeschool my oldest, I continually get excited to learn and share new things
Just this week we learned in my 3rd grader’s science lesson that the regal horned lizard shoots blood out of its eyes to scare away predators – WHAT?!
My kids and I flipped out over the youtube videos and had so much fun learning about yet another amazing animal God has made.
Is your homeschool characterized by the excitement of learning? Or are you checking the blocks while looking at the clock?
If you’re dragging your kid (and yourself) through the day, take a little time to think about how you can inject more fun and excitement into what you’re learning.
What is your child really interested in? How can you customize his current curriculum to include those interests?
Can you assign journal entries about that topic? Watch youtube videos or Netflix documentaries about it? Make up silly sentences that include that topic while calling out spelling words? Make up math games that center around that topic? Could you relate a STEM project to the topic? Make an art project out of it?
If you invest some time into bringing out their (and your) natural love of learning (and fun!), your homeschool will be well on the path to success!
This goes hand in hand with planning ahead.
A mom who is headed for homeschool success understands that there needs to be structure in place.
Kids crave it and moms thrive on it.
Having a time that school starts, a routine to follow, and an expectation for the day all promote a smooth outcome for everybody.
The key to success though is that the structure is flexible and not rigid.
Does your homeschooler need an extra hour of sleep for whatever reason? So school starts a little later, that’s okay.
Somebody is hungry for snack and the lesson isn’t quite over. We can take an unexpected break, no big deal.
A fun art project goes really long, so the day doesn’t end till later than usual. Great!
Structure is in place, but mom doesn’t lose her marbles when things don’t go according to plan.
Read “A Flexible Homeschool Routine Your Kids Will Love” to see how we structure out days. Don’t miss the free printable subject cards that help you track your progress during the day!
The comparison game is something all of us moms have been playing since our kids were born.
It absolutely carries over into homeschooling.
“Why does it take us so long to finish school? My friend says they’re done by lunch!”
“Why are we struggling so much with this curriculum? My friend said her kids loved it.”
“That mom’s kids are all grade levels ahead in their work. What is she doing that I’m not?”
It’s easy to see how comparing your kids and homeschool to other people can be detrimental.
A mom whose homeschool is headed towards long term success has her blinders on.
She doesn’t care what other people are doing, how far ahead her friend’s kids are, or how perfect their routine is.
This mom has her eye on her child and their individual needs and educational path.
She is interested in carving out a homeschool that works for her family.
If something doesn’t work, she adjusts. If her child takes longer to grasp a subject, that is honored and the curriculum is customized.
She is playing the long game of patiently shaping her kids into lifelong learners – not the comparison game.
The core subjects of school are typically listed as reading, writing, and math.
These are things that are supposed to be done every day and are the foundation of your education.
But I believe there is one subject missing from that list…and it’s socialization.
I know that can be an ugly word for homeschoolers, but hear me out.
I don’t think homeschooling will make your kid weird…but I do think isolating them will make them crazy.
And that can be a dangerously easy path to fall into.
A homeschool mom who is headed towards success, strives to be excellent in every area of homeschooling – not just the academic ones.
She sees that the math lesson is just as important as the hug from a good friend running up to her child.
As you hit the bumps and bruises of your homeschool journey, you don’t let them get you down.
Your eye is focused on your long term goals for your kids.
You are not just looking at today’s issue with the spelling or math and wringing your hands
You see down the road to where you want to be and the vision you have for your child’s future.
This is what gets you out of the bed in the morning, what drives you to hunt for new curriculum every year, and what keeps you going when you just want to put them on the bus like everybody else.
You know why you are homeschooling, and it drives everything you are doing with your kids.
I didn’t say homeschool success had anything to do with…
Nearly everything I listed is something that YOU can influence and attain with time.
If you are feeling a little deflated (or maybe intimidated), remember what I said above – This is a goal list!
It is not meant to be a measuring stick that finds your homeschool lacking.
It is meant to be something to strive for – not so that just you can be successful – but that your child will be successful in life.
Did I miss anything?
Comment below with your thoughts, ideas, and experiences!
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