One thing I want my kids to learn earlier than I did is that it’s ok to make mistakes, that mistakes can be a tool for learning and growing. I’ve done my share of that during my first year of homeschooling, and it’s not done yet! Here’s a sampling of the lessons meant for me, the teacher, instead of my students.
5 Things I Learned In My First Year Of Homeschooling
Sometimes it’s worth it to pay full price.
Public schools spend thousands of dollars for each student’s education, but even one thousand was hard for us to come by for our homeschooling classroom. There are a million thrifty things you can do to provide a quality education without a hefty price tag, and one of them is buying books and curriculum used. It’s a great strategy, but BUYER BEWARE! I spent hours and hours looking for a good deal on our chosen curriculum on ebay, and when I got it, it was not only in rough shape, but the editions of teacher’s guide and student books were mismatched so that page numbers were off, some content was not included, etc. All in all, it was a big mess that cost us a lot of time, while still being a fairly costly purchase. Next time I will know to ask about editions and copy write dates, but I also think I may just pay full price for a new, current instructor’s guide before buying anything else.
Get the library card.
Another great way to save money is to use the library. Our library is quite tiny, though I do use it; a neighboring town has much more to offer, but I hesitated for three or four months about spending $20 on a non-resident card. That was just silly. Even if I only used 3-4 books instead of buying, it would be paid for. In reality, I check out 10-15 books at a time, and it’s more than worth it. (Even considering the fact that I am now moving to that town and can get a resident card!)
Take all advice with a grain of salt
I suppose the more experience I have, the more confidence I gain, but at the beginning of homeschooling, I really just wanted someone to tell me what to do. I was afraid of missing something; this isn’t without some justification. There are some activities prescribed in the curriculum that seem pointless to me until someone more knowledgeable explains them. I don’t think I can go entirely on intuition. On the other hand, it’s just my personality that I am going to have to highly customize any given curriculum, and I should have known that since I was the same way when I was a professional teacher. (That’s right, I got paid to do this once upon a time!) Having books and boxes pre-packed with activities won’t save me any time; rather, they add to my frustration as I try to do everything in the book AND everything I come up with on my own. That’s just how it is for me! Everyone is different!
Some materials you should buy as you go.
There’s something in that late summer wind that makes me go school supply crazy. On top of that, I’m a planner. I like to know I’ll have everything I’ll need on hand. But that’s kind of a bummer when later in the year you feel like every single thing you bought in August was wrong or unnecessary. I overestimate the kid’s abilities; I find out about awesome new resources that are better than the ones I already invested in, or I just plain get buried in things we will need eventually but not now. Part of this is because it is our first year, so we’re not just replacing things as we complete them. Part of it is my own inexperience, and I have to make allowance for that. But ultimately, I wish I hadn’t tried to get everything up front. It’s just plain overwhelming and unnecessary.
Learning is fun!
Okay, in all honesty, I’ve always liked school. My hobbies are reading and writing; I study languages, casually, for fun, and I read humorous books about grammar. Nonetheless, it is no exaggeration to say that I’ve never been as excited about learning as I am right now. I’m teaching K and 1st grade, and I’m learning so much myself! This isn’t to say I’m teaching things I knew nothing about, but I find myself wanting to know more and more and dig deeper and deeper into new subjects. I can’t help but believe some of my enthusiasm may rub off on the kids. Homeschooling is pretty much a full-time/overtime job, like any teacher’s job is, but I’m so glad we are doing it.
Do you homeschool? What mistakes have made that we can all learn from?