Different families begin homeschooling in different ways. Some parents begin thinking and preparing for homeschooling the moment their children arrive, while others jump into it with little or no preparation whatsoever. In my book, I tell the stories of several different families and how each arrived at homeschooling in the first place — people are often surprised to hear the varied and diverse stories that beginning homeschoolers have to tell!
But no matter how prepared homeschooling families are, or how quickly they begin with no preparation at all, one thing remains the same — the first few days of homeschooling are not always perfect. This is normal. In fact, even though most people enjoy being homeschoolers, it is very common to hear about unpredictable things that happened or hectic moments that took place during their first few days, too!
It can be helpful to recognize that nothing ever goes smoothly the first time around. Understanding that minor glitches and first-day jitters can be overcome will help keep a smile on your face and a feeling that things will improve each and every day.
These TIPS for the first few days of homeschooling can help.
Plan as much as you like, but assume you’ll accomplish less. Starting off with impossibly high hopes will undoubtedly lead to disappointment later on. Go ahead and plan an ambitious daily schedule if you like, but understand that it simply may not be possible at the beginning — if ever. And be okay with that.
Give things a chance, before deciding if you (or your children) like them or not. You have enough to think about during the first days of homeschooling to worry about all of the details of each and every product or method you have chosen. If something isn’t right, rest assured this will begin to show itself eventually. Give school a chance, say 2 to 3 weeks or even more, before trying to evaluate if you have chosen correctly and your children are making any kind of progress. The first few days is no time to make new schooling decisions or undertake major curriculum re-dos, since you haven’t enough information to go on — yet.
Be flexible and expect that schedules are meant to be broken in the beginning. It is impossible to predict how long things might take until actually doing them. And while schedules can be very important, they can take some fine-tuning until you get them just right. Spend a week or so running through any schedules, plans, or charts you have created. Only after you have run through each of them several times should you make the necessary corrections.
Keep things light, make at least some things fun. Incorporate pleasurable activities and those that your children are guaranteed to enjoy into the first days of homeschool. And while some may view this as a bribe or a sneaky way of getting children to love homeschool, it really isn’t. Instead, it is a reminder that homeschooling doesn’t only involve books, paper and pencils. There are many learning activities that recognize children who want to move, to play, to touch, and to experience things outside of a school book. Adding in some of these activities will keep things varied and moving in a healthy and pleasant direction during the first few days. Continuing to include these kinds of activities in your day long after school is at your own discretion — but not a bad idea, either.
Expect questions, and don’t become flustered by them. Children may ask questions during homeschool. Spouses and family members ask questions, too. While you may answer these questions as honestly or as often as you like, do not feel compelled to justify your every action and statement to everyone you meet. The decision to homeschool is a private one and is individual to every family. Do not allow others to shake your resolve or to cause you to question your thinking while you are still gaining confidence with these decisions yourself. It is alright to politely decline to discuss your children, your methods, or anything else at the beginning until you are ready, or even never if you choose. Remember this is your homeschool and your family, and you may do with it exactly as you please.
End every day on a high note. No matter what may have happened during the day, or what you have been able (or unable) to complete academically or otherwise, take some time each day to pat yourself and your children on the back for a job well done. Celebrate successes, whatever they may be, in a way that leaves everyone feeling great. Whether your children enjoy ice cream best, or a family movie or something else is what makes them happy, do something every afternoon or evening to recognize your dedication and hard work, re-solidify family bonds and leave everyone feeling ready and happy for the next day.
Want to learn more? Here’s a book that will help you get started: