When you’re just starting out as a homeschool family, there’s so much you’re excited about. You may be thinking about the time you’ll get to spend with your children, watching them grow and learn. You’re about to make some truly precious memories. Your path forward is full of new opportunities for fun and learning. And don’t get me wrong, stability will be important for your homeschool life. But truth be told, you wouldn’t be homeschooling if all you wanted was stability. Homeschool flexibility is what makes your journey vibrant and exciting. Each new day is full of possibilities.
It’s also the key for surviving your first few years. As you’re finding out what works best for your family, as your children grow and gain interests, as they develop passions and skills, flexibility will be a friend you call on to get your children where you need them to be. So I’ve highlighted five areas for you where you might find yourself needing to be flexible.
Have you been to a homeschool convention and visited the vendor hall? If you haven’t, imagine a giant room filled with booths. There will be a couple of booths selling regular books—and the obligatory essential oil vendor—but almost every other booth will be another textbook vendor. Those vendors represent only a small portion of the options available to you as a homeschool parent. Also, a great many free curriculum materials are available online. What on earth are you supposed to do with all the options? Some homeschoolers jump from curriculum to curriculum, looking for that perfect fit.
The solution is actually a lot simpler than you’d imagine. You don’t have to check out each and every curriculum to find out what’s best. Instead, consider the reasons you’re homeschooling. Do you want to give your children an education with a solid biblical worldview foundation? Then skip past all the materials written from a secular worldview. Do you want to customize their education? Then a curriculum that doesn’t give you options may not work for you.
What word do many homeschool moms love the most? Organization. You and your family are both growing. As you do, things tend to get complicated. Think about the day when your youngest wants to take music lessons, your middle child wants to play a sport, and your oldest starts driving lessons. And you’re going to need to have a plan to stay organized—to some extent. First of all, go ahead and plan on taking moments to breathe and pray every day. Second, your plans are often better to change than curriculum. As you watch how other homeschoolers are making their plans, you may find yourself adjusting your own plans according to what you like or don’t like.
Brick-and-mortar schools will often have learning goals for a course. But you have the freedom to be much more creative and specific with your goals. What do you want your children to achieve? Do you have goals that they can work toward every day? Do you want them to learn to share? To master that one lesson in math? To learn to love reading? It’s wonderful for you to come together as a family and set goals for your children. Personalized goals will help them stay motivated and moving forward. But they’re still growing and learning every day. You will need to regularly set new goals, giving them something new to strive for. Their goals can be a source of accomplishment and encouragement. When they can see clearly how they’ve succeeded in the past, they’ll be more willing to keep trying in the future.
4. Standards for Success
One of the nice things about homeschooling is that grades become much less important—and I’m not talking about what year your children are in, though that is also true. Assignments are rarely pass or fail. You get to work at it until your child gets it. You’re also open to many different ways for determining success, for you and for your children. Here at the beginning of your homeschool journey, take some time to figure out what it means for your family to be successful. But realize that what looks like success to you may change over time. Today, success may look like getting everything done by 3:00 p.m., preparing a seven-course meal in two hours, and spending three wholesome hours as a family reading, playing games, and sharing God’s Word. Tomorrow, it may look like actually getting dressed at some point in the day.
5. Children’s Interests
Just as your children are constantly growing and changing physically, they’re also changing mentally. When they’re still young, everything is new to them, and they eagerly ask a million and one questions about everything their minds settle on. As they grow older, they may only show interest in certain things, or they may not seem to show any interest in anything at all. It’s a natural part of growing older, but it doesn’t make tailoring their education to their interests and abilities any easier. Just as you have many curriculum options, you also have many options for encouraging your children’s interests. For example, you could create a special course for their interests, as one homeschool mom did with her daughter’s interest in interior design. If you don’t want to go quite that far, you can use supplemental resources to cover a subject or topic in more detail.
Eager to learn more about your homeschooling journey? Please sign up to receive our free eBook, A Guide to Homeschooling, to learn more about the road ahead of you. Be sure to fill out the homeschool preparation checklist at the end, and feel free to ask questions in the comments section below!