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The BEST Advice For First-Time Homeschoolers!

Homeschooling is all about constant learning: for the children, of course, but, perhaps most importantly, for their parents! And if I’ve learned anything from the last few months of this year, it’s that parents are uniquely qualified to teach their own children, but most of them don’t realize it. I’m not sure why that is, though I do have some suspicions. We teach our babies to walk, talk, do a flip, ride a bike, hold a crayon, and brush their teeth. And yet when the subject of education comes up, we feel inadequate or unqualified. As if the first few years of their lives, those years we spent intimately understanding the distinctive way they interact with the world suddenly don’t count.

If this is you, let me assure you: you are absolutely qualified and equipped to educate your children! Learning is about so much more than study guides and work sheets. And the resources available today are endless! You can “do school” in whatever way works best for your individual child: even if that means different things for different kids!  Support groups and co-ops and online resources are more plentiful than ever. Homeschooling is a big job, but there are amazing tools that are super accessible to make it easier on all of us.

If you’re just starting out, this is a great place to begin your homeschool journey! You can check out the homeschool requirements [1] for your state to see how to get started.

Also, give your kids (and yourself)  lots of grace! Take it slow and allow plenty of time to adjust. Enjoy this precious time with your children.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, read these incredible nuggets of wisdom from some of the pros. And remember, you CAN do this!

If it isn’t working, you can change it. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t mean it always has to be done that way. -Jessica B.

Deep breaths and stay positive. You are NOT going to screw up your kids. -Erin L

Don’t do it alone! There are so many co-ops full of supportive, experienced moms who can’t wait to welcome you. -Serenity A

When something isn’t working for your family, it is OK to change it. If something is a battle every day, give yourself permission to find something that doesn’t make you crazy-even if it isn’t what you think it is “supposed” to look like. -Allison M.

Homeschool is NOT public or private school at home. It gets to look like whatever you want or need it to for your family. -Nicole D.

You taught these kids to walk, talk, go potty, and eat with a fork, you can teach them grammar and math. Google and the library will be your best learning tools. You don’t have to have a set schedule, desk/classroom space or curriculum and your child will still learn. -Stacey C.

Don’t quit. There will be good days and bad days but keep pressing. It’s so worth it. Living is learning. Grocery shopping is a great teachable moment. Look into unschooling as well. If it gets to be too much on a given day, take a break… go on a field trip. Find a homeschooling group that is like-minded and get in. Your children’s homeschooling relationships are important… Don’t stress. -Cindy P.

Go with the flow. Do not try to replicate school at home. If something doesnt seem to be working try a different approach. If math isn’t going well for the day, make cookies. There is plenty of math involved in baking and cooking. Science not going well? Easy, do some gardening and talk about the plants and soil.
Homeschooling gave us so much freedom. Enjoy it. -Rachael D.

Join a community or co-op! Great relationships, helpful advice and encouragement, socialization for all! -Angel P.

Get organized, find a mentor to help you choose the best curriculum for your family. Check out your local homeschooling community and state laws. You can do it! -Cindy S.

Have fun. Its not a chore. -Alida C.

Don’t be afraid to let them do MORE of what they love and not max out every single subject all the time. Core homeschool can be done much more quickly. Check the boxes on the stuff they need to get done and then let your kids dive into things they just didn’t have as much time to do before. Let them read a lot, dance a lot, build, cook, hike, program, play piano, write music, dissect stuff, garden… whatever makes them light up! Let them do more of THAT STUFF. Pretty soon learning becomes more and more joy and they see the power of learning in reaching places they might want to go in life. -Angel W.

Lower your expectations for all involved!!! And leave plenty of time for the de-schooling process for parents + kids. And ENJOY the heck out of it! -Christi C.

Don’t try to public school at home. -Christi L.

Be patient…. each child learns differently. Gear curriculum to them. Remember you don’t have to spend 8 hours or 5 days on school. 3 to 4 hours for older students is adequate and can have it for a 3 to 4 day schedule. Whatever you do, set a schedule and known its Ok to change things up. -Myriam L.

Don’t feel like you have to do it all. It’s okay if you don’t teach art, music, Latin, …. You don’t have to finish every problem or every lesson or test or curriculum. -Laura H.

Ask advice but trust your gut on what is best for your child. Don’t feel pressured that you have to do a specific program or classes or do anything like anyone else. If your child has educational challenges, here’s your chance to really learn about and understand them in order to adapt things to their specific needs. It’s challenging to you as a parent to really pay attention to those special needs and seek out help for them, but your child will feel heard, understood, and become a more successful learner by your efforts. I don’t know what you know about God, but I have come to know Him pretty well and He has been my greatest helper all these years homeschooling. He’ll be your greatest asset. Just ask Him, He’ll be there. -Jill A.

You don’t have to do it all, or in order. Pick and chose what works and feel free to sip things! They will always learn something. -Amanda H.

Grace…routine…grace…routine…grace….routine – basically routine with a lot of grace for everyone to learn how to learn -Lucy P.

Don’t feel like you have to join a co-op. Some people love them, and that’s great! Others want/need to be able to follow a more relaxed and flexible schedule, and that’s great too. You can still get together for play days and activities even if you don’t do classes together. -Wendy H.

My absolute #1 top piece of advice after homeschooling for many years is that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like public school. I also don’t necessarily like calling it “school”, I like to call it “living life”. Kids (and adults) don’t have to sit at a desk or table to learn. Learning happens all over. If my kids are doing “book work” then they are usually either on the couch, in a bed, on the trampoline, in the back seat while we’re driving somewhere, out in nature, etc. I find that they learn easier and retain more when it doesn’t feel so rigid. Also, there’s nothing saying that if anyone is having a hard day with “school” that you can’t just close the books and go out on an adventure. I feel like SO many newbies want to make it resemble public school and be rigid. You do what’s best for your family. There never needs to be tears. Kids learn best through play and/or learning with their interests in mind. For example, my youngest was obsessed with polar bears for over 3 years (he even insisted his name was Polar). While he knows just about everything there is to know about polar bears, he never realized that he was also working on reading, writing, handwriting, math, geography, science, and art in the process. He just dove in because he was focusing on learning all he could about polar bears. -Leesa D.

You can do a whole lot of school just by reading great books and talking about them! -Mandi E.

Relax. Cover Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Read Aloud. Play Games. Go on Field Trips. Don’t expect perfection. Get to know your kids. Talk to them. Go off schedule often! Pray -Heather B.

Don’t try to make school at home just like school at school. It will be different– it should be different. You don’t need to “do school” for 8 hours a day, have the exact same routine every day (unless you want to!), or in general try to replicate public or private school at home. Every single homeschool family does things a little differently. Figure out what works for YOU and embrace that. -Jaimie R.

If it feels like a battle, stop. Reassess. Take some time to find a different approach. Ask your child what they want to learn. And look into gameschooling if you have a kid who fights you on any kind of school that they think is school. -Heidi P.

As a parent with five kids, one of whom was homeschooled for high school, and one of whom was an elementary home schooler- keep your child as the center of your plan. If your kid likes to be outside- take them to the beach. Needs structure? Have a schedule. -Nicole L.

Do the stuff that you always thought would have been fun to do in school. Go on day trips, have arts and crafts, bake, go to zoos and museums, learn a new skill, have a read aloud day, literature and movie day, write a story, ect…learning doesn’t always take place in front of a computer or at a desk with textbooks. -Grace B.

Don’t judge the experience by the first year. Give yourself and your kids time to adjust and figure things out. The first year is full of mistakes and learning what works best for your family. It gets better. -Noelle H.

You can do this. There’s never been more resources to help you. -Luke G.

Also, do not try to mimic any other family. Embrace your family style. You can glean ideas from other families, but don’t try to fully imitate another homeschool family. – Annie H.

Play a lot of games and read aloud good literature, follow up on anything in a story that interests them. – Lynn N.

Seek wisdom from those who have done this for awhile and can humbly share their struggles and things they enjoy.

Don’t compare yourself or what you are doing with other moms and what they are doing. All of us are gifted differently and that’s ok. You can do this.. this is your child .. find community that can encourage you on the rough days. – Angela W.

Do not try to duplicate public school at home. Do not be afraid to call it a day and try again tomorrow. Don’t stick to a plan or curriculum that isn’t working. DO include your children in the decisions and process. A child led education is a child interested in learning. There are a lot of ways to learn and teach that don’t involve workbooks, textbooks or even sitting down. Do think long term. None of us get it right at first. There will be challenges when you start. Don’t give up in the first 6 months or even the entire first year. You CAN do this!! – Ronnie J.

Relax and enjoy this time together. Not everyday will be successful and that’s ok. When you , or your child start to get frustrated, take a break and come back to it later. Have fun. Be flexible. Listen to your child and let them have some input in their learning. – Kimberlee R.

Just enjoy! I am so thankful to have spent the last 10 years at home learning with my child, for my child vs letting my child walk out the door every day for hours to be with anyone but us. – Danielle S.

Study your child to know their learning style, needs, strengths, weaknesses etc. Know your self as well. Take breaks when you need to, and don’t compare. Find people that will encourage you as well as guide you. Finally, it’s normal to have good and bad days. Don’t make life changing decisions on the bad days. – Tawanna C.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to look anything like public school. Curriculum materials are your tools, not your boss.  – Paula B.

Make sure your printer works, you have a library card, your internet is a go, you have at least one tv package subscription like Netflix or curiosity stream, and remember to get outside. – Theresa P.

Be patient with yourself. The 3 must-haves are: 1) prayer, 2) good curriculum, 3) coffee. Keep moving forward and know your kids are learning in many different ways when homeschooled. Life skills are important too. – Angela S.

It takes time to create a new relationship with your child. You are now partners in a new journey. Be kind to both of you. It can be scary, lonely, and boring. You can do it. – Courtney D.

Teach to their interests and skills. If high school, be sure your program is accredited. – Carmen C.

Don’t expect to school your child the same hour amount they would in a classroom. It goes at their pace. – Skye G.

Don’t give up. The first year is the hardest. Stick with it and you will figure it out. – Amie L.

Take all the advice given here about relaxing and enjoying to heart. Then also make sure you know your states laws inside out and backwards just to be sure especially for high school. – Jennifer Y.

Oh! And relationship before academics. Don’t sacrifice your bond for the multiplication table. They can reference a chart for that if it comes down to it, but there is no substitute for a good parent-child relationship. – Magi C.

Don’t try to make it look just like public school. Relax and know it will be trial and error for you and the kids. Most of all enjoy your extra time with your kids! – Jessica M.

Breathe. You don’t have to do it all. Now or ever. – Lisa S.

Many subjects can be covered by simply doing life and finding the answers to the questions they will inevitably ask. Often people ask me “what are you using for. . .” And my answer is “nothing”, which isn’t exactly true, it’s just that we don’t need a curriculum, because that topic is a natural part of our lives. – Magi C.

It is not easy. But it is worth it. Choose happiness. Not stress. Not deadlines. Not grades. Happiness. – Melissa D.

There is LOTS of awesome advice in the original post here [2], on our How To Homeschool For Free page [3], and in our How To Homeschool For Free – Support Group that you can join here [4]!

What advice would you give to first-time homeschoolers? What do you wish someone had told you before you started? Feel free to add to the list by leaving a comment below with your best advice!