At the Learn + Live Letter, we talk a lot about reclaiming the joy of homeschooling. But sometimes it can sound easier said than done.
So how can you do it? If you’re just beginning, the best first step is to begin with confidence–trusting that you are making the right choice for your family right now. So…how does that start?
The most important thing you can do to find joy and success as a homeschooler is to define your homeschool WHY. What is your biggest goal for your homeschooling experience? Why are you doing this? What do you hope your child gets out of it? What do you hope YOU get out of it?
This WHY is so important, not only because it will help guide all of your decisions throughout your homeschool journey, but also because it will become your guiding light when you are faced with challenges–and that includes people who will try to attack your homeschool or your ability to homeschool.
Next, think about your life and what you like about it. Do you like getting out of the house and having new experiences? Are you a homebody who loves reading time with your child? What about your kids–when are they happiest? Do they need lots of outside time? Do they focus best after a lot of movement? Are they motivated by sticker charts or other reward systems? You can find ways to incorporate all of these strategies into your homeschool, especially if you pair them with a curriculum that builds in the flexibility to do so.
In the same vein, what doesn’t work for your family? Does your child have a hard time focusing early in the day or later in the afternoon? Are there certain subjects that really intimidate you to teach? Do you all get a little stir-crazy if you’re home together all week long? Keep these potential pitfalls in mind and plan and implement strategies to help you avoid them.
Finally, remember that you CAN do this–and look for a community (either in person or online) that will remind you of that when you need it. There’s a common homeschool roadblock that we call your “homeschool vacuum.” We use this to refer to the little bubble (in our heads or our homes) where we sometimes live with our insecurities and challenges and feel like it must be us. WE are the problem. WE are failing. But when you start opening up to a community–getting out of the vacuum–suddenly you realize that your problems aren’t just YOUR problems, and they’re also not so rare at all.
Finding your homeschool community will also mean adding a team of people to your homeschool that can build you back up, find ways to laugh through the struggles, and share experience-backed advice and tips to help you find success. That’s the kind of community we strive to offer all of our members and anyone who follows along with us on social media. (Follow us on Instagram and Facebook if that sounds like your kind of community!)
Of course, not all of us are new homeschoolers. Many of us have several (or many!) years under our belt–but we still might struggle from moments of homeschool insecurity that rob us of finding true joy in home education. So what can you do if you haven’t gotten off on the best start?
The first thing we always encourage our users to do is to assess their personal definition for success. Why are you classifying this moment as a failure? If you have that really clear WHY in mind, that can provide a balanced guide to get you through these moments.
When a struggle arises, ask yourself: WHY is this so important to me? Why do I think I need to teach THIS in THIS way? Is there another way to approach it?
And remember that it isn’t fair to judge yourself or your homeschool success by a 100% perfection rate. There are no attendance awards in homeschool, and our children are people just like we are. That means they will have bad days–even if you’re doing everything “right” or you know this is a lesson your child would enjoy under different circumstances.
One of the most underrated things in homeschool is the break. If the lessons are just not happening today, no matter what you try, skip the lesson. Or take off the day. Or take off the week! It’s really okay, and you won’t fall behind. We say often at Learn and Live that you are not running out of time, so don’t hold yourself accountable to some arbitrary timeline.
Remember: It’s never too late to remember why you are doing this. If you haven’t thought about your homeschool WHY in a while, take a break and use the time to refocus. Do the choices you’ve made so far truly connect to your ultimate goals? Is there something you could change or do differently? Why do you hold back from doing so? Understanding our motivations is an important step to finding the homeschool path that is right for you and your family.