I’ve been homeschooling Peanut for 2 years now, and at first it was so scary, thoughts filled my head like:
- “Can I really do this?”
- “Will he be missing out by not going to ‘real’ school?”
- “What if I don’t know the topic?”
- “What happens if he wants to go to college or university?”
I was tormented by these questions, many more. But I did what I always do when things are unknown and a bit scary. I did a bit of research and then jumped into the deep end both feet first.
Although I’m no homeschooling pro, I’ve definitely learned a lot about what works for us. Your mileage may vary, hahaha!
Just because you have the book doesn’t mean you have to use it right away! This year we bought a customized “boxed curriculum” from Timberdoodle instead of building my own curriculum. It came with a couple of books that I ended up putting on the shelf to be used either later this school year, or even for the next grade. I tried to make it work for Peanut, but when I realized he hated it, and I dreaded pulling the book out, something had to change. I took a look at what was different about these books, and it struck me! Peanut wasn’t ready for them! He was frustrated, and that’s why he was acting the way he did when it was time to do these subjects!
Don’t compare my homeschool with other homeschool families! I respect your choices, and although your little boy and mine may be the same age, they learn differently. Yours may be able to multiply and divide while mine is eating glue off his fingers, but mine can understand the concept of gravity while yours is pushing crayons up his nose! You may want your child to have a more religious schooling, while I prefer secular. In the end, we all are doing what is best for our own children. Homeschool, private school, public school, we all want our children to succeed and be the best they can be.
Make learning fun! I’m not saying you have to be entertaining your kids every second of school, but foster a love of learning! Peanut hates reading, so I make it fun by doing silly things with him randomly. If he reads 4 words without struggling, I give him an “earthquake” by shaking him! If he finally sounds out a word he’s been stuck on for a while, I cheer and have him jump up and down. When he finishes reading for the day, I’ll give him a few fast spins on our computer chair. It makes the difference between Peanut not wanting to read and Peanut looking forward to reading!
Be flexible, and do what’s best for you and your child! There are days when we just don’t feel like school. This doesn’t mean we don’t work, it means I grab another coffee, Peanut plays more Minecraft, and we do school later in the day. I know some families insist on rigid timelines, some even insist of school uniforms, packing a lunch, and strict routines. It works for them, but for me, I’d have burnout within the first two days. I usually am still in my pajamas, Peanut is usually shirtless, and still we get school done. We don’t follow a daily routine – shocking since *most* autistic children thrive on it, but Peanut doesn’t, and neither do I.
There will be days when school takes a backseat, and that’s okay. Our school year is 144 days long, and we homeschool all year, so this gives us a lot of wiggle room. We also aren’t tethered to “public school” rules of learning between Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm. It’s okay to do school on Sunday afternoon, Tuesday evening, or even Thursday after a trip to the beach. Sometimes there are days when school doesn’t even happen. That’s okay too! We have a Monday to Thursday schedule, so if we miss a day, we can do school on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday! We were supposed to have school up to December 22, but we ended up taking from the 19th off, only doing minimal reading and read alouds. Are we behind? Yes and no. Peanut is already ahead in math and science, so all we need to catch up on is Phonics, but since he’s already doing reading daily, Phonics will be easy to catch up on!
There will be difficult days! Homeschooling is frustrating at times. When your child is sounding out the word “cat” and comes up with “dog” for the 18th time, or they consistently count from 0-20 but always skip 13-16, you want to bang your head against the wall and pull your hair out! Trust me, there will be days like this! Finish your lessons and let that be the end of the day!
Don’t make EVERYTHING about homeschool! There will be times when your kids just want to cuddle, snuggle up and listen to you read a story, or eat popcorn while watching a movie, no strings attached! Don’t analyse the book or the movie (unless your kids initiate this). Let a beach day be a beach day, don’t start explaining tides or insisting on building a medieval castle complete with moat and working drawbridge to supplement your history lessons. Just relax, enjoy the simple pleasures!
And of course, my most important rule for our homeschool: Always make sure mommy has a coffee! Trust me, you don’t want me around you if java isn’t flowing through my veins!
As for all the questions I had at the start of this journey, that’s going to be another post!