We were so honored to host Serena Ryan as the first guest in our IG LIVE summer series! Serena is founder of The Confident Homeschooler, a homeschool coaching and education company that works with families to find the schooling philosophies and curriculums that will work best for them. We sat down with Serena to discuss how to reflect on the past year in a way that will propel your future homeschool, how to avoid homeschooling from a place of fear, how to stop comparing your journey to others, and more. Here are the seven biggest lessons we took away from our chat. (And don’t forget to watch the LIVE here!)
When reflecting on the past year, don’t just focus on the failures—find the wins!
And remember that your family’s “wins” can go so far beyond simply academic successes. Take the time to notice life skill or skill set changes, too! If your goal was to work on kindness, is your child sharing better than she was last year? Can he tie a shoe now, or make his own breakfast? All of these changes are markers of incredible progress and worthy of being celebrated. And when non-academic goals come to fruition, you will gain so much confidence because you know a traditional school would never have that as a goal, but it’s a fundamental skill that will make your child successful in life.
Ditch anything you dreaded—even days of the week!
Of course, we can’t really wipe Mondays off the calendar. (Unfortunately!) But if you find yourself dreading school on certain days of the week, mix it up. Do you stress every weekend about the upcoming Monday? Turn it into a co-op day so you can share the load with another homeschool grownup. Exhausted over teaching on Fridays? Make that your field trip day and embrace experiential learning over intentional teaching. Learn from your family’s rhythm, and don’t feel bad about working with it!
Remember that you are not just a teacher—you are a facilitator!
That means you are playing and learning alongside your kids. As facilitators, we facilitate a learning experience—we don’t simply talk at our child during a lesson. And remember: You are the best facilitator your child could ever have because you know them best!
The secret to breaking free from the fear of comparison? Gratitude.
So many of us are held back from experiencing the joy of homeschooling due to fear—fear that our child is “missing out,” fear that they are falling behind, fear that we aren’t smart enough to teach them. And so much of that fear is rooted in comparison. Instead, take a grateful view. Focus on everything that is going right and the positive things in your life. Serena even recommended repeating or printing affirmations that can remind you that you can do this, like: “I am smart. I am a great mom. I know what’s best for my kids!”
Find the *right* community.
Not all homeschool communities are created equal. The right people will build you up and recalibrate you, help you stay focused on your vision, and hold your hand through the tricky moments. If you are new to homeschooling (or new to your style of homeschooling), find a mentor who can help guide you though state requirements, help you know what you need to do and what you don’t need to do, and build you up when you need it.
But you should also be your own best advocate.
Understanding the homeschool laws in your state can feel confusing, but it’s the best way to protect yourself and your family (and your sanity!). Websites like HSLDA.org (note: not a secular website) and your state’s legal homeschool website (you can find your state’s laws here) can help you determine what your state requires so you stay compliant without providing any more information you need to. (Think of it like the DMV—they want to know that you have your license; they don’t care how often you wash your car.)
And finally, stop trying to prove things to people who don’t get your vision.
You know what your goals are and why—why are you worried about explaining that to someone who doesn’t see what you see? Focus on your vision and be unapologetic when you are doing what is best for your family. The next time someone challenges your choices, try saying, “That’s okay, I don’t expect you to understand. That’s our vision and what’s best for our family—it might not be what’s best for yours.” Then walk away if you need to.