If you’re getting ready to dive into homeschooling life, you may be feeling a bit nervous. Or excited.
It’s okay! You’re normal, I promise. We’ve all felt nervous and excited and overwhelmed at the beginning of the homeschool journey.
To tell you the truth, I feel that way every year – and we’ve been homeschooling for quite a few years now.
Perhaps you know why you want to homeschool but you just need to know exactly WHAT you’re getting yourself into.
Because believe me, homeschooling is hard work. It takes time and real effort and a definite commitment to educating your children.
You need to be passionate about your decision to homeschool.
Before you dive into homeschooling, there are some things that you need to know.
It isn’t all sunshine and roses. There will be bad days (and weeks). Times when you don’t feel like working. Days when your kids just can’t seem to settle down and get to work. Months where you feel overwhelmed.
But there is a light in the darkness (I promise!). There are days where your kids just whiz through their work.
Cherished moments when you’re reading aloud and realize that there isn’t anything you’d rather be doing than spending your days with these precious gifts you’ve been given.
If you’re new to this journey, I can positively tell you that it is worth all those difficult days. But I want you to be prepared – there are some hard truths you need to understand.
1. Homeschooling Is Hard Work
It really is.
Homeschooling takes time and effort. If you’re going to take on this task, you need to look at it as your job. Really.
Homeschooling is work and you need to put in the effort to make it successful.
It’s not a part-time hobby that you can do when you feel like it.
You need to make a commitment to yourself and your children that you are dedicating yourself to this task.
2. Your Home Will Be Messy
Between the kids being home all day and the piles of homeschool books, whiteboards, school supplies, art supplies, educational games… the list really does just keep getting longer and then, of course, the lack of time for dedicated cleaning things will be messy.
It’s just a fact of homeschool life.
After all, your kids are home with you all day – by the time you get one mess sorted, they’ve created three more.
Of course, there are some ways to manage the mess. You’ll find a rhythm that works to at least keep the chaos to a minimum.
But during the homeschooling season of life, wall maps and whiteboards will probably be the nicest decorations in your dining room.
3. Life STILL Happens
Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean life suddenly stops. There will be illness, family emergencies, or unexpected travel.
The beauty of homeschooling is that instead of missing school days, you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
4. Your Kids Will Annoy You
One homeschool blogger I know uses the phrase ‘children are like sandpaper’.
The constant time spent in each other’s company will make everyone’s worst traits float to the surface.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing!
Homeschooling gives you the rare opportunity to work on character flaws (in yourself as well as your kids).
5. Your Kids Will Experience Learning Plateaus
It’s absolutely natural for kids to make a few ‘fits-and-starts’ when it comes to learning.
When they are learning to read, they may struggle sounding out those new words but then all of a sudden just take off.
Alternatively, they may fly through simple addition but get bogged down when they get to subtraction.
This often means we have to throw our carefully detailed lesson plans and color-coded schedules out the window and instead, focus on where our children really are.
Sadly, kids don’t learn according to our carefully color-coded plans.
Burnout is one of those problems that I honestly didn’t think I would ever deal with.
I only have one kid. It wasn’t like I had a houseful of toddlers and little ones running around. Just one.
Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter how many kids you have – you are still prone to burnout – especially if you are trying to push your kids or you’re just trying to do too much or you are spending all your time planning.
All those history projects – we burnt out on them. All that math – it was just too much.
I take breaks intentionally. I have a few extra days that we can use when we just need a breather. I don’t try to use too many programs.
We don’t do a new project every week. I don’t schedule every minute of the day. Sometimes a school day might be a math lesson and some reading. That’s okay.
6. Your Family May Have Issues With Your Educational Choices
Not everyone in the extended family will be on board with your decision to homeschool. You aren’t the only one to experience this.
Whenever it comes up, change the subject (or ‘pass the bean dip’) and move on.
It’s not your responsibility to change their views about homeschooling. If you’re lucky, they will eventually see the light (then again, they may not).
Don’t take it personally. Make the best decision for your family and ignore the criticism from well-meaning family.
7. You Will Become Closer As A Family
Lest you think that these homeschool realities are just a long list of reasons NOT to homeschool, I think it’s important that you know what it’s like.
There are still plenty of great reasons to choose to homeschool.
Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to build close family relationships, provide a personalized education for each child, and create a lifelong love of learning.
There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are homeschool families.
8. You Will Learn To Slow Down & Take Breaks
In my excitement for homeschooling, I pushed my daughter too much. This was really evident in our phonics lessons when she was small.
Looking back, I can see those times where I was trying to push through the lesson and getting frustrated with the slow progress, were really times that my daughter’s brain was making new connections.
She just needed to pause and absorb what she had learned before she could move on, prepared to progress on to new information.
As I mentioned above it’s absolutely normal to have these ‘fits and starts’ where kids are moving right along and then seemingly ‘hit a wall’ in their learning.
They really didn’t hit a wall. Their brain or body just needs to catch up and absorb all this new stuff. It’s normal.
How we’ve changed?
Now, I have no problem with taking a break.
My son is having issues with fractions this year so we’ve slowed down. We’re backing up and reviewing a little bit.
We’ve had to slow down in Latin too. It’s okay. We are making steady progress, even if it’s slower than the “perfect” schedule I had planned.
9. You’ll Become A Master At Self-Education
When we first started homeschooling I spent a lot of time researching different programs, discussing
When we were new to this homeschooling journey I spent so much time researching different programs, spending time on homeschooling message boards, tweaking that 12-year plan (which has definitely changed through the years!).
What I should have been doing instead?
Reading and focusing on all those subjects that intimidated me.
Instead of spending so much time researching all those programs, I should have been reading and studying and preparing myself.
Today I don’t spend as much time on those homeschooling message boards anymore. I don’t pore over curriculum catalogues as I used to (but I still read them occasionally!).
I spend my time reading books and working on Latin (and soon Greek) as these are the subjects that I lack confidence in.
10. You’ll Learn To Simplify
While I was very excited to jump into homeschooling, I was also nervous about those subjects I wasn’t confident in (mainly math). So I overcompensated.
We used 2 programs plus a drill program every day.
I did the same with history.
I was so excited about all those fun history projects and great books. I spent hours coordinating huge lists of books (not that we had the time to read even half of them), trying to match up topics and create that “perfect” program.
Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.
Then there are all those fun projects?
We did a lot of projects for the ancients in our first year and we did quite a few for the middle ages and the renaissance. After that, we did maybe two projects a year.
Today I don’t try to weave 3 programs together to make one “perfect” program.
I read aloud, assign some writing, give my children a book basket so they can choose their own books.
My children do some note booking and keep a timeline.
However, those projects?
We have 3 planned for the year.