Looking Back on My First Year of Homeschool
Was I organized? Nope. Was I a great teacher? Nope. Was I patient? Nope. Did I have all the right educational tools? Nope. Did I spend a lot of focused time on lessons and homework? Nope. Did I feel confident in my ability to homeschool? Nope. Did I rely on a great co-op for support? Nope. Was my first year of homeschool successful? ABSOLUTELY!
When I started…
In 2008 my oldest child turned 3 and all of a sudden the word “preschool” started popping up in every conversation we had with other people. Relatives, friends, neighbors, almost everyone we talked to would ask “are you going to put her in preschool this year?” I had good friends suggesting what they thought was the best preschool and recounting the wonderful experiences they had with said preschool.
At this point I had already decided that I wanted to homeschool so the answer was an easy “no“. What I didn’t know was how exactly I was going to do it. Luckily what I lacked in know how I made up for in children whose educational future was depending on me! In 2008 I had a 3 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old and was pregnant with #4. Plenty of positive pressure right?! Needless to say the majority of my attention and energy wasn’t spent on homeschool but on dirty diapers, meals, and sleep.
What I was already doing right…
Before I decided to officially homeschool my kids, I was fully invested in their learning and development. As a parent you teach your children most of what they know before they reach the age of 4; how to talk, walk, feed themselves, use the potty, interact with others, dress themselves, etc. My desire to homeschool stemmed from the joy I felt as I watched them grow and learn as babies and toddlers. I wanted to continue to be a direct part of that learning and growth.
My children already loved books. Reading to them was something both my husband and I did every day. My children loved to help with chores and cooking. I let them do simple tasks with my supervision. My children loved to ask questions. We took the time to answer them and tried to help our children discover the answers on their own. All these things that we were already doing, were precursors to our first year of homeschool.
I went where any other logical human being would go when they need to find answers for something they have no idea about; the internet! The first research I ever did was to enter the word “homeschool” into the search bar on my computer. My top result was homeschool.com, the #1 homeschool community. So I clicked on the link and did some reading. What I found was answers to most of my initial questions.
I also found a review on a book that had been written by website owner, Rebecca Kochenderfer, called Homeschooling and Loving It! I liked what I saw in the review, and noticed that they were running a sale on the book, so I decided to buy a copy. This book gave me a starting point for my first year of homeschool. It has been a great tool for structural direction. It was the helping hand I needed to start my journey.
The tools I used…
A Library card. A Dry Erase Board. Books. A love of learning. A set of flashcards I bought for $3 at Walmart. A desire to homeschool. The internet. Plenty of real life experiences for my kids to be a part of. These were my tools. Did I have a lot of money to spend on a plethora of awesome tools in my first year of homeschool? Nope. But that didn’t matter.
In my frugality I learned that anything can be a tool if you use it as one. It just requires some creativity and imagination.
What made our first year of homeschool successful…
Looking back, what made my first year of homeschool successful wasn’t what I had or what I did right. What made it successful was what we learned. Were we diligent? Yes. Did we do what we could with what we had? Yes. Did we end the year knowing more than when we started? Yes.
I learned to be more patient. I learned that what my kids needed in order to learn was exposure and opportunity. I learned to rely on my observations and intuition. My daughter learned how to count to 10, and how to spell and write her name. We discovered that life is learning and learning is life. The knowledge that we gained from our experiences in that first year of homeschool is priceless.