Hot Topic — Advice from Experienced Homeschoolers

We will occasionally share content of hot topics discussed in our GSHE Facebook group (while preserving people's privacy). This time we initiated the conversation -- Experienced homeschoolers, you've done this before. You have gone through the ups and downs of homeschooling while still being mom/dad/grandparents. What is your one best bit of advice to new homeschoolers? If you’re in our FB group, you can see the thread here.


Rae - Consider everyone in your equation to what will work best for your style of school. Even if your child learns "best" with one method, if you find it difficiult to be a good teacher/administrator to them or if it just doesn't work with family schedules, it's ok to move to plan B. Being an active participant in their education matters far more than any ideal or method. Also, high school is serious business if you hope to go to college or a trade school or have employers take you seriously. The simplest way is to use accredited curricula, but you can absolutely still DIY it if you have the right resources, which are often free.

Abigail - Doing the basics is just fine: reading, writing, math, and everything else is gravy. Spending a day in front of tv watching shows/movies are ok, too. Learning to rest is learning, too. Learning happens everywhere. You don't need to spend a lot of money on a curriculum. The effort you put into teaching will be felt for years to come.

Rebecca - Stay flexible! Things often go off the rails; in our house today, someone has beeen dealing with a painful loose tooth and has been completely unable to focus due to it. If I were to demand that today's work all get done, I would be even more miserable than my kiddo is now. We'll just delay some of the work, and do lots of snuggles and watch a show instead. We've got time.

Lois - Don't be discouraged if the first week is a train wreck! Seriously, I've been doing this for 20 years and more often than not, the internet goes down, the printer breaks, you discover you're missing some key item, the dog runs away or has to go to the vet, the car breaks down, etc. Be patient with yourself, roll with the punches. And if you have one of those glorious first weeks, hooray!! Share your success with the rest of us!

Ingrid - It's ok that it doesn't look like "real" school. You get to decide when to take breaks, go for walks, play games, have tea time, or do school on the grass under a tree.

Melanie - Write down the reasons (convictions) why you are homeschooling. Write down all your hopes for your kids. Write down the goals, ideas, ideals, dreams, etc. When you have days and moments when you want to quit - and you will - take this list or letter out and read it! Remind yourself why you chose this path and remember that almost nothing worthwhile is easy! (Note, I did this years ago and found it to be invaluable when I got discouraged or scared that I was ruining my kids.)

Donna - You aren't going to "break your kids!"

Luna - Stay away from Pintrest.

Shelly - I am finding that high school doesn't have to be a miserable slog towards college with a "no time for fun" schedule, tons of testing and boring curricula. They can go back to public school and get that! I found that a good mentor, lots of tea, a listening ear for their interests, and willingness to help them make things happen, and high school rocks!!!! I’m loving learning alongside them and actually having time to talk with my teens, about simple things or discussing deep topics snuggled in front of the wood stove is awesome and seeing them find learning opportunities everywhere and be mature enough to recognize that opportunity is a gift. I was petrified to teach high school because I was hearing how hard it was, but it is totally doable! There’s a ton of support out there, a ton of really wonderful, creative choices and programs - just find what feels right for your family and enjoy these last few years homeschooling your kids.

Heather - You know your kids and love them like no one else. YOU are enough for them.

Denise - Do little things to remind yourself of your own individual person also. When the home and the school are one, you will be needed pretty much constantly. These don't have to be things out of the house if you don't want. Mine is crazy coffee mugs and raising chickens. They're my tiny reminder in the day that my own individual self is still in here even when my hands are covered in dry erase and I can't find the three hole punch. One practical thing too: shut off your phone or minimize your accessibility to others (outside of your family) when you're actively teaching. You wouldn't be on it all day if you were at work. Homeschooling while fun and even done in a laid back way is still work. Be present for it.

Ingrid - Mine is a stash of chocolate on the rope shelf of the fridge door, coffee or tea in my hand at all times (if not I will find it in the microwave) and my prayer time in the morning while dad does breakfast.

Nilene - Read together with all ages. On tough days SHUT the books and go on a field trip or outside!

Diane - Find interesting approaches that even you would want to pick up and read. If you find it dull, the kids probably do as well. Here is a pic of my favorites that I keep tucked in the bookshelf because I still can't part with them.

Catie - Take it seriously, but not so seriously that you start to dislike it. If it’s getting rough, make changes!