We are finishing up our third year homeschooling. Although I would not consider myself anywhere near an expert or even a veteran homeschooling parent, a recent post from a new homeschooling parent in our homeschooling group email list got me thinking about a few things I've learned over these last three years. When we started homeschooling I didn't really know anything about homeschooling and I certainly didn't know anyone who actually did it. You can read about why we made the choice to remove Ms. Q from public school HERE. So we started our homeschooling adventure re-creating school at home. I purchased the same books Ms. Q was using in school and we set up a pretty rigid schedule. I spent alot of time and effort "teaching" Ms. Q and becoming frustrated that she was complaining about it the whole time.
The second year I read up on homeschooling methods and tried things a little differently. I decided to try out Charlotte Mason's ideas. I purchased curriculum for homeschoolers, followed a more relaxed schedule, and allowed some child directed learning. We had much greater success.
This year we are still following our Charlotte Mason/Classical mix approach and have relaxed even more on the scheduling. We've joined a really great group of other homeschoolers and enjoyed many learning and social opportunities we were missing. I finally feel comfortable as a homeschooling parent. I don't worry that Ms. Q might not be learning what her peers in traditional school are learning. I don't worry that she's "behind in math," or doesn't know the rules of kickball. I feel confident that she's becoming an independent learner, that she seeks out knowledge and will Google anything she wants to know about. I know that a day at the beach or a trip to the grocery store can provide just as much opportunity for learning as a day of "book work" at home. I now know what I was missing that first year - there is learning everywhere not just in books. Homeschooling has become our way of life not just how we spend our weekday mornings. My advice to that new homeschooling parent looking for help was to do some research on homeschooling methods and check the state laws. Then take a deep breath and try to relax. Enjoy the extra time with your children that homeschooling them gives you because they grow up in the blink of an eye.