The 2021–2022 school year was my first year homeschooling my 5-, 7-, and 9-year-old girls. It was a beautiful disaster. I wanted to quit the journey at least once a day, if not more. But then I would see the joy in my girls’ eyes when they learned something new or went on a field trip. We connected over books, hiking, and trying new things together. I never saw myself as a homeschool mama, but we are, entering our second year this fall season.
As I prepare for the upcoming homeschool year, here are four things I will do differently as a homeschooling mom:
1. Have a More Flexible Plan
In my first “semester” of homeschooling, I tried to replicate public school. I quickly realized this was a path to disaster. Then, I attempted to plan out just a few hours of each day. This was better, but if we didn’t check off the things I planned, I would get frustrated because I felt we were “falling behind.” On days like this, I found myself pushing the girls, which made them more resistant to what we were doing.
Homeschooling is not meant to be public school at home or a checklist for me to mark off. It’s intended to be flexible and interest-led. This school year, my planning approach will be more inclusive of our daily life activities and will allow more room for following rabbit trails.
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2. Arrange for Others to Teach
During our first homeschool year, I learned that we did much better when there was an alternate person teaching more challenging subjects. For example, my oldest daughter would fight me if there was a writing assignment in her independent work. She would try to negotiate how many sentences she had to write and would refuse to do more than the bare minimum. Inevitably, we both would end up in tears.
This year, I’m purchasing a curriculum that is focused on how to write and is taught via video lessons. By removing myself as the “teacher,” I am now her support person and coach, not the person telling her what to do. This shift in perspective is critical for her to continue learning without putting extra strain on our relationship.
3. Build Downtime into Each Day
In my quest to recreate school at home, I forgot one of the most basic needs for both me and my girls: the need for downtime. I was so focused on providing the girls with learning opportunities throughout the day that I forgot how impactful downtime is on their ability to learn, recalibrate, and create.
This year, I’m making sure to build downtime into each day. Some days, it may look like an hour, other days it will be more. Either way, we all win. They get the downtime they need to thrive, and I get time to accomplish things that need to be taken care of at home.
4. Give Myself Grace
The most important thing I am doing differently this homeschool year is giving myself grace. Last year, I would focus on what we didn’t accomplish in a day or a week. I constantly questioned whether I was doing enough with them . . . whether I was enough.
With my first year of homeschool under my belt, I have more confidence in how we approach our day-to-day. I know I’ll continue to make mistakes and so will my girls, but we are learning together. Because of this, our homeschool will not just survive, it will thrive.
I read somewhere that homeschooling is the messy intersection between parenting and education. For me, homeschooling is motherhood amped up. There will continue to be days when I just want to send my girls back to public school. I know there will be days they want to go back. For now, homeschooling works for us the majority of the time, so we will continue to pursue our passions while we further strengthen our connection to each other.