If you asked me the single most defining decision I’ve made in my whole life, homeschooling my children is a pretty easy choice, second only to marrying my husband Mike. Like I’m sure most homeschool moms will tell you, the first year (or two…or three) were pretty challenging for me. But I just wrapped year five, and I have to tell you I’ve finally come into my stride and I really love what we do. There’s so much information around homeschooling on the internet; it really is like drinking out of a firehose. It doesn’t take much for a mom new to the homeschool scene (or if I’m honest, a mom who’s been doing it for a while) to see all those options and feel like she’ll never be able to do all the things to give her child a great education. A few too many of those thoughts and you’ll find yourself saying “I can’t do this. This is too much. I’ll never be able to teach my children. I’m not enough for this job.”
Mamas (or papas, or grandparents, or aunts/uncles/cousins/family-by-choice), if you are homeschooling or even thinking about homeschooling, I’m telling you that you are enough and you are no less equipped to educate your children than any teacher in a classroom is. If you feel led to educate your child at home, there are so many resources at your disposal. And your special advantage is that you know your child, and you can cater your educational approach to your strengths and your child’s needs and abilities. The amount of resources and approaches to homeschooling can be overwhelming, but the sheer volume of resources also illustrates that there is no right way to home-educate, and that you have every right to try as many approaches (or create your own!) to do what’s best for you and your family.
One of the greatest encouragers for me was attending the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention in Nashville, TN (although they lead conferences all over the US several times a year). I went for three years straight before actually making the leap into homeschooling, and I found myself so well equipped and much more confident thanks to the wisdom of the other parents (and grandparents) who presented in workshops. One of the workshops I attended was hosted by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason, and her presentation on the Five Flavors of Homeschooling helped me identify the best approach for me to educate my crew. Fortunately all her information is online as well, so you can watch her video here (and lots more on YouTube). She also has a quiz that you can take to help identify your style…yay!
After lots of trial and error, I identified myself as an unschooler, with a Classical, and most recently, Charlotte Mason influence. I’ll go into more detail for you, but ultimately for me this means I don’t buy a curriculum with its own lesson plans. Instead, I create my own approach based on facts and knowledge I want my children to know, arts and sciences that I want them exposed to, and literature I want them to appreciate, and we spend more or less time on certain areas or subject matter based on their interest levels. This approach lets me truly meet my children where they are, and it lets me be the best teacher I can be without making me feel terrible when we don’t hit timelines that were established by someone else.
Even with that in mind, please know there is no wrong way to educate your child if you are meeting their needs and helping them grow. The most important thing in home education is that you and your family are growing in wisdom together. It’s a lot easier to do that when you are doing things in a way that fits your style and your child’s learning needs, without the added pressure of meeting someone else’s expectations.
**Everything I share here is from my perspective as a parent in a green state, which means there are no, or are very limited, laws regarding home education. Some states have a HUGE amount of restrictions when it comes to home education, so if you’re just getting started, you definitely want to know what the expectations for homeschoolers are regarding your state.**