Last updated on May 7th, 2021
For those of us who’ve been homeschooling a while, trying to remember what our first week (or years) of homeschooling were like can be more difficult than trying to find an eraser during our kids’ math lessons. We’re so far removed from the start of our homeschool journey that we forget how scary it can be. From the first day of homeschooling, parents want to know “Am I getting this right?”, “Are we doing enough?”, and “When the heck is Friday going to get here?”
Homeschooling as an educational choice is increasingly popular this year as parents try to navigate the challenging situations they’re facing. For that reason, I wanted to bring you the voice of a brand new homeschooler, someone who is diving right in with her three kids and fully immersing herself in homeschooling, with all its grit and glory.
Purdy Jones is a long-time friend of mine and a thoughtful and engaged parent. She initially shared these nuggets of wisdom in a Facebook post and I begged her to let me share them with you. I wish I had learned these things as quickly as she did and I hope you’ll also find comfort in her words. Even if you’re a veteran homeschooler, these are still important reminders.
I always wanted to homeschool but I was afraid my children would miss out on the joys of school – crafts, friends, fun, plus a spot in early French Immersion! Besides, I wasn’t educated as a teacher so I didn’t feel qualified. As my children got older, we got busier and busier, our quality time together got shorter and shorter, and we grew farther and farther apart. The focus was more on getting things done so that they’d be ready for school or their extra-curricular activity.
When Covid-19 hit, our routines vanished. While it was stressful navigating this new normal, it gave us a chance to re-evaluate and spend some much needed down-time together. When it came time to think about back-to-school, it was stressful debating all the options. We knew that virtual school at home was stressful and not an ideal way to learn. We were also not excited to jump back into our usual routine of going to school in-person – this also meant no more sleepovers at Gong Gong and Popo’s place! So I thought, if there was a perfect time to try homeschooling, this would be the time.
Here are my learnings from our first week of home learning…
We don’t miss rushing out of the house in the mornings.
It’s been a process of getting to know my kids better and meeting them where they are instead of rushing them out of the house so they can keep up with everyone else. I’ve really enjoyed the slower pace and extra time together. There is no schedule (if you don’t want a schedule) and you can make it how you want it to be.
You can tailor and pick the curriculum!
Home learning has allowed us to break the mold and try something different. While we get the freedom to choose curriculum, there are SO many options to choose from and the challenge is finding what works for your kids – and believe me, they will all have different opinions. As daunting as that seems, it really is just about trying new things and giving them the opportunity to follow their curiosity and natural impulses. If it doesn’t work out, we try something else.
You need to figure out their learning styles.
I realized right when they were babies that each of my kids had different learning styles. One easy giveaway is when you feel any type of resistance or disinterest. I think my job is to figure out what resonates with them (even if it doesn’t match my style). In our first week on homeschooling, I’m starting to mix and match resources, give options, and learn what activities I can do together vs apart. For me, it comes down to meeting them where they are and figuring what makes them happy so they can grow.
Be flexible. Nothing will work out as planned.
We had many ups and downs in this first week of homeschooling but I’ve really delighted in the ups and turned the downs into opportunities to learn.
It’s always a good time for ice cream + stories.
Our family philosophy is to create moments of harmony whenever we can! Enjoying good food and snuggling up with a good book is our go-to happy place. Why not have more of those feel good moments?
There will always be one who “doesn’t want to”.
My dream was to teach all my children gathered around me, leaning over with curiosity. I found really quickly that no matter what we’re doing, there will always be some sort of resistance from at least one. Since no sort of persuasion or bribery would change their minds, I’ve decided to let it go. As long as one kid is interested, I keep going. They sometimes come around, and if they don’t I try to focus the next activity on them.
Writing is fun if it’s a game.
One of my kids absolutely dislikes writing and worksheets. Asking him to practise his letters was like pulling teeth. But he loves games and one day when we were playing a game of Pictionary, I told him that I just couldn’t figure it out and pleaded with him to write out some clues. He LOVED it and we’ve been playing Pictionary like that ever since.
Continue to be flexible. Try something new.
As someone educated traditionally, I’m learning how to think outside the box and be flexible (at least modeling flexibility as much as I can!). And I think it’s okay that we’re still figuring it out. Things are constantly changing in life too. My goal is to foster their curiosity and give them the confidence that they can adapt and figure out any problem that comes their way.
Kids love being involved…take the extra time to involve them.
I tried really hard in our first week of homeschooling to weave our everyday life into a learning opportunity, but I’ve found quickly that they do not like it when I make a point about it. So I defaulted to just asking questions and following their lead. I love discovering what’s on their minds and I find that they have great ideas that I would not have thought of myself. When I follow their lead and take the time to involve them, the learning happens effortlessly.
Being with family is the best.
At the end of the day, I’m finding that togetherness and fostering our relationship is more important than any schedule, requirement, or anything really! Home learning can look however you want it to look… I am reminded to give myself grace and enjoy the ride.
Hopefully reading about our first week of homeschooling will help you at any stage of your home learning journey.
Purdy is a newbie homeschooling mama of three (aged 3, 6, 9), director of operations at a virtual marketing agency, and an advocate for wellness & sustainability. She loves nature, being active, and empowering others to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
She shares natural wellness tips that complement the current healthcare model, ideas to live sustainably, resources for families, and her homeschooling journey ups & downs on Instagram.