Your first year homeschooling can be overwhelming and make you question your decision. Use the tips below for confidence as a first-time homeschool mom.
A fellow homeschooling mom was over the other day while our boys played together. She asked me how I felt about homeschooling now that I am several years into it.
She was the very first homeschooler that I ever met, and she knows how anxious and stressed I was our first year. How would I fit it all in? I was teaching three different grades! What would our day look like? The butterflies in my stomach started multiplying faster and faster the closer we got to that first day.
But you know what? I did fit it all in. Our days have looked different through each season of our lives. We have good days, and we have days I hide in the bathroom with a candy bar to have 5 minutes of peace. And you know what else I found out that first year of homeschooling?
It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
So how do you go from the anxious homeschool mom on your first day to a more confident and relaxed homeschool mom?
I’m going to share several tips I’ve found that helped me along my journey. Hopefully they will help you find the confidence you need to know that you are a great homeschool mom too!
How to Get in the Right Frame of Mind as a First-Time Homeschool Mom
1. Pray for guidance.
Praying for guidance in your decision-making can give you confidence in your choice to homeschool.
If God is calling you to educate your children, He will give you the grace necessary to do so. Now, that doesn’t mean that everyday will be easy, or that you will always know what to do. But as long as you lean on Him and go to Him with your concerns, He will help you through it.
Prayer will be vital to get through those hard homeschooling days when you want to chase down the school bus driving by and throw your kids on it.
2. Trust in yourself.
As I mentioned in my ultimate guide to homeschooling post, I don’t know of any state that requires you to be a certified teacher to home educate your children. Parents are a child’s first teacher. You’ve been there to help them learn to walk and talk, to learn colors and shapes, and how to share and use their words instead of hitting.
Homeschooling is just helping them learn the next step! You know your kids best, so you need to trust in yourself that you will be an effective teacher for them.
Remember that you are homeschooling for a reason. Whatever that reason is, you are doing what is in your child’s best interest at this time. You’ve got this, my friend!
3. Ignore the naysayers.
Once you mention the possibility of homeschooling your children, it seems that everyone has an opinion. Some will be supportive, and others…not so much.
Don’t pay any attention to negative comments. I think that most of the time, those negative attitudes come from a place of ignorance. People are unfamiliar with homeschooling and make judgments on what they think it is like. Or they make judgments based on one homeschooling family they know. Perhaps they feel criticized by their own choices for their children’s schooling.
You know what? It doesn’t matter. You do what is best for your family, and your neighbor, cousin, or the nosy cashier at the grocery store can do what is best for their family. That may not look the same in every family. And that’s ok!
A First-Time Homeschool Mom Needs to Do Her Homework
4. Talk to veteran homeschool moms.
I didn’t know anyone who homeschooled when we first started discerning the possibility. I had been a classroom teacher before starting our family, so I knew that I could handle the actual teaching of my children.
However, that also meant that I had difficulty thinking outside the “school” box. Homeschooling is not School at Home. That friend I mentioned above, the one I talked to when we decided to homeschool? I am so grateful that a mutual friend put us in contact with each other. She has become a wonderful homeschooling mentor. She showed me that educating your children at home is different than being a classroom teacher to 30.
I recommend finding a veteran homeschool mom or two to talk to about homeschooling. Homeschool moms who have been there, done that are a great resource for curriculum questions, a way to find out about homeschool happenings in your area, and they can introduce you to other homeschoolers.
5. Research teaching methods.
Many different homeschool teaching methods exist. The great thing is that you don’t have to choose just one. You don’t even have to use the same one for a school year. The beauty of homeschooling is being able to teach your kids how they learn best, and being able to work school around your life.
6. Research curriculum.
Once you know the teaching method that fits your family best, then you can search for curriculum in that method. Attending a curriculum fair, if you find one in your area, is a great way to look through curriculum materials. In my city, we have a used curriculum sale in early June.
I have used several different kinds of curriculum over the years we’ve been homeschooling. Some have worked, some haven’t. It’s ok to recognize if a curriculum isn’t working for your family and to try something else. Even in the middle of the school year.
7. Attend a homeschool conference.
Homeschool conferences will ignite a burst of excitement into your homeschool life. You will get to peruse more homeschool curriculum than you knew existed. Listening to tips and encouragement from veteran homeschool moms will inspire your own teaching. And the chance to chat with other homeschooling parents will remind you that you are not alone.
Don’t let your homeschool days become stressful and overwhelming! Learn how to create a homeschool routine for a simplified day. When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll receive a guide with 5 Easy Steps to Create a Simple Routine for Productive Homeschool Days. You’ll also get homeschooling tips, activities, and resources sent right to your email inbox each month.
Get Involved in the Homeschool Community
8. Join homeschool groups online.
When you are a first-time homeschool mom, you may not have homeschooling friends or a mentor to turn to with questions. Online homeschool groups can be a way to gather homeschooling information and meet others who are also in this journey. I’m a member of several homeschool groups on Facebook. You can search for homeschooling groups in general, or find groups for your specific teaching method.
9. Join local homeschool groups.
While you search for online homeschooling groups, look for groups in your area as well. I belong to 3 homeschooling groups for my city, one specifically for the Catholic homeschoolers in my area, and two general ones. They are a great way to make homeschool friends and to find out what co-ops and field trip options are available in your area.
10. Join co-ops and/or homeschool sports teams.
My children have met who I hope will be lifelong friends through our local homeschool soccer team and through some homeschooling classes they take. Now, we didn’t make these friends overnight, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t click with others right away. It may take some time. But those friendships will be worth the wait!
Your children’s activities can also be a way for you to meet other homeschool moms for friends of your own! I’ve met such lovely ladies through my children’s activities, and pray these friendships will grow over time. It’s nice to have friends who understand the homeschooling journey and can help you through times you get discouraged.
What about when you can’t find a homeschool co-op that you like? Maybe you love teaching art or writing, but you can’t stand science experiments or don’t feel confident in your musical abilities? Then you could start a homeschool co-op of your own! Gena from I Choose Joy has an informative post on starting your own homeschool co-op, full of tips to guide you on that path. Starting your own co-op could be a great way to share some of the teaching with other homeschool moms, while you and your children make lifelong friendships!
So what was the answer I gave to my fellow homeschooling friend when she asked how I felt about it now that we’re several years in? I laughed and told her that I’m definitely not as anxious anymore! Friends like her have helped me become the confident homeschool mom I am now.
Just because you are educating your children at home doesn’t mean you need to do it alone. Leaning on God and other homeschoolers you meet can help make your homeschooling journey a wonderful experience for you and your children. You may be a first-time homeschool mom, but you know your children best. So feel confident in your ability to be the best teacher for them. Good luck, my friend, you’ve got this!
What are your concerns as a first-time homeschool mom? Share them in the comments below.