By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon

I just want to start with this: I see you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to homeschool. Maybe this is your worst nightmare. Maybe you’re a SAHM mom and you’re throwing everything you have into making sure your kids keep learning. Maybe you’re working – either from home or outside the home – and trying to figure out how on earth you’re supposed to teach your kids, too. Wherever you fall, here’s four-years-worth of perspective on learning at home.

First, give yourself heaping piles of grace. Scoop that stuff out like it’s your last ice cream sundae ever. Whether you’re thrilled to be homeschooling it or dreading it, you’ll need that grace. The reality is that you’re human. Your children are human. There are going to be days where the only positive is that you get to start over tomorrow. That’s OK. There are going to be days where you just can’t get through everything that needs to be done. That’s OK, too.

I’m a freelance copywriter and editor. I also work for my church. I also tutor in our homeschool co-op. I work…a lot. There are days where I have to scale back the kids’ work because I don’t have time to work with them. There are days where I have to tell them to please, for the love of all that’s holy, stop talking to me because I have a job that requires me to focus. Because of some really crappy extenuating circumstances, I’ve hard-core battled depression and been the sole breadwinner (and teacher). In our four years of homeschooling, there’s been very little that I’d call ideal. Perhaps this sounds familiar.

But my kids are still learning. In fact, they’re learning a lot. I test them every year, and every year they post more than a full school year of academic growth. Sometimes I can tell you how hard we struggled for it. Sometimes I have no idea how it happened. Will your kids have gaps? Yes. Guess what? Kids in public school have gaps. So do kids in private school. The presence of gas isn’t disastrous. What matters is the presence of skills to address those gaps. If you can teach your kids to find answers, to read and ask questions, to be willing to explore new things…they will be fine. Learning is a life-long thing. I’m willing to bet you have gaps, too (I do!) and you’re still learning new things.

Don’t be afraid to be flexible. I know this is harder if you’re doing actual virtual school and not spearheading the teaching yourself. But allow yourself to switch things up if they don’t work. Let’s say you created a really stellar school room and it becomes apparent that your child really works best at the kitchen table: scrap the school room. It’s OK. If you chose a curriculum and it just isn’t working, try a new one. I just switched reading curriculum for the third kid. The old one would have worked just fine for her, but it was too labor-intensive for me in this season. What matters is that she learns to read…so out with the old and in with the new.

Failure is an integral part of homeschooling, and it starts with you. If something crashes and burns, acknowledge it. Show your kids how to move forward. You are actually setting them up for future success by letting them see you fail.

As much as possible, let your kids be outside. I think that’s one benefit of this time: increased freedom to be outdoors. It’s such a valuable mental health outlet for all of us. Schedule breaks. Take unscheduled breaks. Seize pretty days and go outside without an agenda. It’ll keep you sane.

And speaking of sanity, realize that you’re doing a super stressful job, probably in addition to another job. If you have a friend or significant other who can relive you for a few hours, take it. You’ll be a better, more compassionate, more flexible teacher if you have some time for yourself.

I’m rooting for you. There’s so much wrong about all of this, and we don’t have to deny it. But the good news is that amazing things come out of terrible things. I’m believing this for you, this year.

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