Monday, August 6, 2012

Thoughts on Homeschooling Your First Child

A mom of a two year old asked on my CHR facebook page whether or not other people felt apprehensive when they began homeschooling.  This is a very common feeling when someone is thinking of beginning the somewhat daunting task of educating your children.

I remember that when we decided to homeschool our oldest daughter she was just approaching kindergarten.  I don't remember being apprehensive then; that came later on when I added more students and realized the enormity of the situation.  When we first started I'd say I was exuberant and ready to teach her everything there was to learn.

It wasn't until I was homeschooling a few kids that I realized the kindergartner didn't have to know all of the things I thought they should know.  I realized with time and experience that these first couple years should be spent getting the kids excited about learning the basics instead of trying to pound "school" into their heads.  

Upon realizing this, that is when the apprehensiveness showed up.  What had I done wrong?  How could I go forward differently with the older kids and how could I change things for the newer students?  This eventually led us down a much more relaxed atmosphere in our homeschool.  Relaxed in the sense that I now realize that kids learn differently and at much different rates; that you can't expect them all to read marvelously at a young age - or even an older age; that they will all learn what needs to be learned when they are ready to learn it.

So my advice to moms with young children is this:  Spend time with your kids when they are younger, 3 - 6 or so, doing fun types of learning.  Learn letters and numbers and reading and science by doing activities, taking field trips and reading lots of good books together.  Let your child let you know when they are ready to read...they might be 4 or they might be 8.  Trying to force someone to learn to read when they are just not ready is the same as trying to potty train a toddler that just doesn't get it.  You both end up frustrated and nothing gets accomplished.

Try not to be apprehensive, either!  You have 12 years to get it right and believe me it won't take that long to figure it all out.  Be flexible and open and willing to change things if they just aren't working.  If you can do that, then this monumental task we call homeschooling will be just fine.  It might be hard and there will be days when you think you've had it, but just take a step back and PRAY hard and God will guide you through it!