Monday, February 13, 2012

Twelve Things I've Learned in (Almost) Twelve Years of Homeschooling

1. You can't mess up Kindergarten. Really. You can't.

2. Don't worry about preschool, either. It's called "living with three- and four-year-olds." Have fun with them. Make stuff. Invite them into the kitchen. Get outside. Learn to love glitter (or at least tolerate it.)

3. The strengths and weaknesses you see in your children when they're six years old will be (for the most part) the same things you see when they are ten, or fifteen, or eighteen. Build on the strengths. Help them find ways to shore up their weak areas, but don't define them by the weaknesses.

4. Don't worry about when they read, just that they do read. And are read to. Stay focused on a love of books and learning, and whether reading clicks at age four or age eight won't matter. (I had "early" readers and a "late" reader, but the "late" reader is now voracious, an avid reader who gobbles up great books. I'm so grateful we never labeled her "late", which might have deceived her into believing that reading wasn't her thing.)

5. At-home schedules (i.e., "Breakfast at 8" or "Math is always at 9") make me cranky and they don't work for me. Routines, however, and "pegs" (thanks to Leonie for the idea!) help me thrive. Read about pegs here, from Lissa.

6. There are all kinds of gaps in education. My daughters have gaps. Your kids have gaps. Students in public and private schools have gaps. I have gaps. They are inevitable, unless you're the Omniscient God. Which I am not. Accept it: there will be gaps. Then spend your whole life filling them with astonishing, interesting, stimulating new things.

7. Blog. Or scrapbook. Or keep files. Or take loads of pictures. Find your best way to keep a record. On bad days, you can look over your blog/scrapbook/bulging files/photo albums and see that you have, indeed, been doing good stuff. Lots of it.

8. Things that don't look at all like "school" can be extraordinarily educational.

9. A lot of people are petrified of homeschooling through high school. I was scared, too. Worried that I could not do it justice. I might not have. (See "Gaps", above.) But we did it. We took it one year at a time. Now my eldest child will be graduated from "homeschooling" to "the real world" after spending the last twelve years in the real world, homeschooling. It's possible. It's fun. It makes for a great family relationship.

10. There will be times of teetering standards. Days of doubt. There will be angst and worry. Keep going. Unless you live in a Soma-saturated Brave New World, you will have bad days. That's not a bad thing. That's called life.

11. There will be changes in your homeschooling ideas and philosophies. But don't worry about that. Think of yourself as the Shark of Homeschooling: you have to keep moving or you die.

12. Couldn't colleges could save a lot of money and lower their tuition if they'd stop sending us all those glossy promotional materials?


priest's wife said...

I love this list- and the names you have given your family- I can't choose who I love best- Anne, Betsy or Ramona (all 'girl-power before it felt forced)

Pam Barnhill said...

Great list Karen! I love it! I'm not a spineless homeschooling jelly fish who can't make up her mind. Instead I am the "Shark of Homeschooling" fearless and ever on the prowl. Ha!

Sue said...

I really needed this! My oldest will be starting high school this coming fall, and I am already waking up in the wee hours thinking about it. I believe that we'll get through it, and hopefully even enjoy it, but I need all the encouragement I can get right now in the warm-up stage!!!

The Bookworm said...

All so very, very true!

Melissa Wiley said...

:::wild applause:::


AND I SO HEAR YOU about the college brochures! It's ridiculous! The email too--so incredibly spammy! "I've got my eye on you," "Did you get my message?"

Sarah said...

Wowzers, this is a great post. Thanks! :)

mel said...

I admit it...when you first mentioned "soma" I thought that might not be a bad thing...hehe. I love the "shark of homeschooling" thing. :)

Erin said...


We have also just 'graduated' our oldest:)
I could have written your post, word for word. Wishing you all the best as your daughter moves forth and as you adjust{}

Karen Edmisten said...

Just keep swimming, Sharks! :)

Daria Sockey said...

May I add a thirteenth? Or maybe we can number this one zero: If your kids are not yet old enough for formal lessons (minimum age 5 IMHO), even if you plan to homeschool when they are, DO NOT THINK ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING, ESPECIALLY CURRICULUM CHOICES, ONE MINUTE SOONER THAN YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO. Because once you start, you will be thinking about it for an awfully long time.

Kimberlee said...

Fabulous list! It's all so true (and I've been at this for *gasp* sixteen years). Don't you want to just shout 1 & 2 from the rooftops!?! And as for high school - Be Not Afraid folks. It is indeed possible and fun fun fun. Love the line about bad days. ;-)

Karen Edmisten said...

Daria: Yes, yes, yes!

In a way, that's what I was saying in #1 but I should have come right out and said it -- should have put "Kindergarten" in quotes, because I don't do formal Kindergarten lessons. Can't mess it up, and yes, there will be years and years to worry about messing other things up, as well as curriculum. :)

Karen Edmisten said...

Kimberlee: Yes! (Shouting from the rooftop!) :)

Also? Now it's your turn to make a list of things you've learning after the first twelve years! :)

KackyK said...

Love love love this! I try not to cringe when those newbie moms come to meetings, you know when they have one child who is 4 and they want to know all they can. I know I was that mom too. And someone smiled at me and gave me loving advice. So I try to do the same :) But you are right!!!!!