You don’t need desks and a hall pass

One of the most important things veteran homeschool moms want new homeschool moms to know is this:

You don’t need to replicate public school at home.

You don’t need separate desks for each child. You don’t need maps on rollers or a large white board. You don’t even need textbooks. The most important things are things that you already have. Love. Hope. Perseverance.

When all the public schools shut down in March 2020, I saw a lot of good advice from homeschool moms to the families who suddenly found themselves doing school at home. One of my favorite bits of advice came from Molly Christensen, a woman in one of my local homeschool Facebook groups. In order to give her credit, here’s her picture and a snippet of her post. The entire text of her post is below (with a few edits for formatting and clarity):

Hello friends! Welcome to those of you who are new and are thinking of homeschooling because of the CDC guidelines! I know these times are crazy, and many of you have been thinking of homeschooling for a while, it just took this incident to help you decide. As a long-time homeschooler, can I just give you a few thoughts as you jump in?

(1) If you’re feeling like you need to do this, then you are up to the task! You CAN do this, even though you probably feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. You are enough! You don’t have to do it perfectly, and you’re not going to ruin or fail your kids. You love your kids more than anyone else, and because of that, you WILL find that right path for your family. And it’s not nearly as complicated as you may fear. Before you dive in, analyze WHY you are really doing this. Write it down, you’ll need it on the days that get hard.

(2) Realize that homeschooling is a big paradigm shift. You don’t have to copy the public school to have “success.” In fact, you will have power struggles if you do try to copy it, because you’re trying to *make* your kids learn. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Same with kids. Instead of making them do it, work with their current skills and abilities, and surround them ideas of greatness so they will desire to be good and do good. Decide WHAT it is you want for your kids – what are your goals for this year, and for when they leave your home (whether or not you will keep homeschooling or send them back to school. What do you want to your kids to learn, do and become? This is more important than finishing any curriculum.

(3) “What Curriculum should I use?” is the most common question I see being asked by new homeschoolers. This will only make you feel more overwhelmed because you’ll get a million different answers. Instead, take a little time to research different philosophies about education. Find people whose results you like and ask them what they believe. Start writing a list of educational ideas that resonate with you. Once you do this, you will find that it’s easier to decide which curriculum you will use. This is your HOW. You can figure out your educational philosophy by buying A LOT of curriculum and trying it out – but that is the trial and error method. You’ll save a lot of time, money and confusion by figuring out why you are doing this, what you want the results to be and how you want to accomplish it first. Curriculum is simply a tool to help you achieve your why, what, and how. It should be your servant, not your master.

(4) Connect with others. You weren’t meant to go through life alone, and it really helps when you connect with others on the same journey. There are hard days, and on those days, friends can encourage you. There are great days, and on those days, you can encourage others. You can get help from those who have traveled this path before. You don’t have to do it all yourself. It’s OK to ask for help. It means you’re open to learn, not that you are a failure.

(5) Go for progress, not perfection. You will never do this perfectly. You will make mistakes. You will mess up. But that is part of the learning process, and it helps your kids see how to live life. You are enough. You can do this! You were meant to do this if you feel the desire and the call to do it. You got this, Mom!

You can do this, and you won’t do it perfectly. That’s the best part about it. Offer your loaves and your fishes and let Christ make up the rest. If something isn’t working, change gears. That’s one of the things I love best about homeschool. It adapts to you and your child as you both grow.

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