I have a few friends starting off on their very first weeks of homeschooling. I think about them every day, praying for these enthusiastic moms and their precious children. I hope they are hanging in there, going with the flow, and not taking things too seriously.
Because starting out homeschooling can be intense, can’t it? So much pressure from the inlaws and the nosy neighbors and the disapproving PTA friends makes it seem like a high-stakes roulette game with your children’s future. It’s not. It takes a couple years for most homeschool moms to relax and feel like they know what is right for their own children. Until then, it’s hard to know sometimes what you should be focusing on.
So I’ve made you a handy check-list of things. If you accomplish these seven tasks sometime during your first month of homeschooling, you can consider yourself way ahead of the ball game.
Are you ready? Get set — GO!
What to Do When You Start Homeschooling
1. Join a homeschool support group.
There are two ways to find your closest support group fast.
- Go to HSLDA’s site and search for one in your area. It isn’t a complete listing, but it’s a start.
- Google “homeschool support group [your city]” and your closest support group will likely come first on the listings.
Put your courage to the sticking place and contact the leader of your group [there should be a contact page on the web site]. All you have to say is that you are a new homeschooler and want info on their organization. They’ll take care of you from there.
You want to join the group for your first year because you will at least find some more homeschoolers in your area. At best, you’ll also get more information, support, and field trips. Can’t go wrong there! You join on a year-by-year basis, so if you feel you’ve outgrown the group in a couple years, you can let your membership lapse [*cough, cough*].
2. Find homeschool moms to hang out with.
Latch on to the homeschool moms you know at church, playgroup, and soccer practice. Come with a question each time you see them — homeschool moms love to share their advice. Don’t turn down any invitations for play dates, coffee, or dinners. Even introverts need to keep the lifelines to relationships, and you’ll be so happy to have these friends one day.
3. Make play dates for your children.
Children coming out of institutionalized learning go through a real withdrawal period. It can last a few weeks to the entire first year, and some relapse later. The transition is easier with more outside contact. Try to set up an extra social activity for them each week, if possible.
If all else fails, bake cookies. Works every time.
4. Plan one fun thing each week.
In addition to the social calendar, try to find one extra fun activity each week that capitalizes on your new-found homeschool freedom. Go to the park at noon. Meet Dad during his lunch break at McDonald’s. Go to a museum in the morning. Bake cookies in the middle of the day. Look forward to these events and mention them often, the blessings you’re enjoying and the memories you are making together.
Did I mention cookies?
5. Spend serious time at the library.
Up until now, your child may not realize the treasure trove right in the middle of town. Spend a long afternoon finding the audio books, comics, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and even novels hidden in the most wonderful building in town. Get each child a library card (it’s self-defense — they have to pay their own fines!), and make the library a new habit.
6. Buy new notebooks, pencils, and coloring supplies.
Math is almost fun with a bright mechanical pencil. There can never be too many rulers (we own six, but I dare you to find one), pink erasers, and glue sticks. Fill up your drawers with such goodies, and especially note the art supplies your children crave.
7. Relax and enjoy it.
Banish all thoughts of “what page should we be on?” and “are we going to be behind?” and “what if they hate this?” and just go with the flow. Take pictures of reading in the homemade pillow fort. Display the coloring pages all over the house. Listen to audio books in the car. Eat cookies during grammar. And don’t work too hard. The first month goes by too fast. Make it a happy one.
And bake cookies.
For more homeschool help, check out my new book Homeschool Made Easy, now available on Kindle. Get your copy today!