Whenever I run into new homeschool parents, I remember that feeling that I had when I was just starting out. I felt a lot of fear. Would I be able to teach my kids? Would I be successful? Would I ruin them forever? And what about that socialization thing? It just seems like you are thrown into the deep end of the pool and you don’t know how to swim at all. And you aren’t in the pool drowning alone either. There are a lot of spectators shouting helpful (or not) advice in your direction as you try to doggie paddle your way to…well, where exactly?
The first thing that helped me gain my footing was to set an end goal. What did I want my kids to be like when they graduated from my little academy? What knowledge and skills did I want them to acquire? We are a religious family (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and so I know that I am aiming my kids for Brigham Young University in Provo. I pulled up the website for the school, and there was a lot of information about how homeschool students are evaluated for admission. So I now had more finite requirements that I was shooting for. I now had a direction that I could swim in.
I always tell new homeschool parents to choose where they are headed and map out the steps to get there. You may change along the way, but if you have that end goal in mind, you will be better able to steer your children where you are headed. You will know what questions to ask and how to evaluate your progress.
Here are some of my goals for my kids at graduation time:
- Be healthy and happy members of our family with good memories.
- Be college admission ready using BYU admission requirements.
- Have the life-skills necessary to be able to run a household on their own.
- Have the character developed to serve an 18month-2year religious mission.
- Have worked a part-time job.
- Develop skills/talents that could be used to bring in income if needed. (music, home repair, computer programming, etc)
The second thing I tell new homeschoolers is that it takes a few years to find your groove, and that is okay. Kick out your fears and have faith that you can do this, and that you will be successful. If something isn’t working, you have the power to adapt and find something that does. There is a support system for you out there (you can reach out and find it), and with determination and perseverance it will all be worth it. And as several wonderful moms have reminded me over the years, you take it one year at a time. If homeschool works this year–then great–if not then there are lots of other options available. Just remember your end goals and head towards them.