Home Schooling 101: Strategies for Successful Home Schooling

I want to start by getting something out in the open.
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You might be laughing when you read this, but I think it is actually a really important truth about home schooling.
Because at one point or another, we’ve all felt like we’ve lost our mind. Right?
The thing is, home schooling is a journey of the heart.
You have chosen to home school because you believe it is best for your kids.
You are following your heart.
But we all know it isn’t easy.
Home schooling can sometimes be lonely, and scary, and disheartening.
Occasionally home schooling just makes you crazy.
Because you are with your kids All.The.Time.
There are going to be days when you you’ll want to hide in the bathroom, praying that you don’t cuss in front of the kids, or fall on the floor in a heap sobbing.
The truth is, home schooling is hard work.

But it is good work.
And friends, on those hard days, I want you to remember this: home schooling is your calling.
It is no accident that you are a home schooler.
God has placed the desire to home school in your heart.
And even when you feel ill-equipped, uninspired, and full of doubts, He will help you fulfill this task He has called you to do.

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I want to tell you a story about my mom.
My mom was one of the early home schoolers.
She was one of the pioneers.
She didn’t have a teaching credential, or even a college degree.
She had a high school diploma and a whole lot of doubts about home schooling her kids.
But she jumped in anyway, because God put the call to home school in her and my dad’s heart.

Home schooling looked quite a bit different at that time.
For example, there were very few options for curriculum.
And in our town there was one, small, home schooling group to join.
There wasn’t a lot of information about different ways to home school, and if there was, it was hard to find.
So my mom did the best she could with what she had.
The style of education she gave me and my brother wasn’t my favorite, especially at the beginning.
But we made it work, and mostly, she let me read a whole lot.
And that was my favorite.
By 8th grade I was writing my own lesson plans and thriving under the freedom that home school allowed me.

But those first years were really hard.
Despite the assurance that they were doing the thing they had been called to do, the commitment to home school added stress to an already difficult situation.
My dad’s business was failing.
My older brother and sister were getting in all kinds of trouble–some of it serious.
My little brother and I missed our friends at the private school we’d been attending.
And a lot of our family and friends didn’t understand, or even support, home schooling.
But with my dad’s encouragement, my mom pressed on.

I never really thought about it then, but I’m sure there were plenty of times when she was scared and lonely.
I’m sure it was hard.
Now that I’m the one home schooling, I realize how brave she was.
In the eyes of the world, my mom could not have been less qualified to teach her kids.
But she followed her heart and she did her best.
That is really all any of us can do.

It’s true that home schooling is more mainstream now that it was when my mom started.
But we are still educating our kids differently than most people.
We are on a unique path.
And now that you’ve decided on this path, you need to be able to explain why.
Why are you home schooling your kids?
Because there are going to be hard days.
There might even be hard weeks, or hard years.
One of your kids is going to struggle with reading.  Or math.
Your family isn’t going to support you.
You’ll have friendships that will change because you home school and they don’t.
And in the midst of those hard times, you need to be able to remember exactly why you are on this journey.
You need to know why you decided to be a pioneer instead of choosing the more comfortable, well traveled path.

My mom chose home schooling because she was unsatisfied with the education my older brother and sister received and she wanted something better for my younger brother and I.
I chose to home school  because I loved the home school experience I had and wanted to share it with my kids.
And secondly, I chose home schooling because I wanted to be an integral part of their learning experience–I wanted to be the one learning with them every day, not someone else.  In a way, I am too jealous to share their learning years with anyone else. I love to be with them.
I want to offer them the very best education I can, and I truly believe it is an education that can be found at home with me.

This quote by Charlotte Mason really sums up the hopes I have for my kids as I home school them.

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So now I want you to think, “why am I doing this?”
What are the reasons your heart has led you to this place?
Come up with your answers.
And write them down.
Then, on those hard days that are bound to come, you can look at those reasons and be encouraged that you are doing what you are meThis is the first step I took in my own home schooling journey. Before I even had kids, before I was married, before I was dating, I knew why I wanted to home school my kids. It was my foundation.

In the 6 plus years that I’ve been home schooling,
I’ve watched a lot of my friends start home schooling and stop.
I’m not judging them–home schooling is not an easy thing to stick with .
But since it is my hope and plan to home school my kids all the way through high school, I need to be practical and proactive about how to make that happen.

I know the why, but that is just the first step.
We can’t just bumble along and hope everything will turn out great.
Instead, we need to arm ourselves with the tools to achieve the success we’re after.

Here are 3 things that have served me well as I’ve walked this windy home school road. And I hope that, whether you are a beginning home schooler or a seasoned veteran, they will help you too.
1. Develop your philosophy of education.
You need to choose to teach in a style and methodology that you love. If you love it, then you’ll be excited about it. And that excitement will translate to your kids as you teach them. Don’t just go with what your friends are doing or what seems easiest or safest.  Do some research and listen for the thing that speaks to your heart. And then follow that. You need to be passionate about this. Otherwise it will be a real struggle for you, and therefore your kids. Teach in the way that excites you!

2.  Become part of a group.
By its very nature, home schooling is isolating. You are home alone with your kids day in and day out. You need to social outlet.
You need to talk with friends, share ideas, commiserate when its hard, and learn alongside them.
This group is different than your regular group of friends.
It needs to be women who are on the same home schooling journey that you are.
Not that you must abandon other friendships.
But you are going to need people in your life who understand exactly what you are going through.
You should see your group more than once a month.
Ideally, you should see them every week.
It will save your sanity. Trust me.

I prayed hard for the Lord to bring a supportive group into my life.
At first I knew no one who was home schoing. But in time, He brought those people. And He brought them in abundance! I was faithful to follow the call and He was faithful to answer my prayers.

3.  Time for you.

You need to regularly schedule time for yourself. This is a hard one for us moms. We don’t want to admit we need a break. We think we can do it all. But we can’t.  We need time to recharge.
And once we’ve found the thing that fills us up best, we need to not feel guilty about making it a part of our lives.
You will be better able to serve your family if you allow yourself some time away from them

You need to be a mom who isn’t bitter about her time with her kids. You need to want to be with them. And you need to want to be with your husband, rather than saying something like,” if one more person touches me today I’ll scream,”  when he reaches for your hand.
He doesn’t want an always frazzled wife. You need his support.
So take time for you, and you have more to give to all of them.

I’m sure none of this information is new or groundbreaking. But these things have all been helpful to me so far. And I truly hope they will help you as well.
Because in the end, we need to remember that the struggles will come.
But with our end goal in mind, and with supportive friends to help us, we can keep climbing the mountain and not give up.

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Much love and support to my fellow home schooling mamas.
Remember, I believe in you, and I am for you!
And far more importantly, God is for you.
Best,
Greta

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