Man, this is a tough question. I heard a lot of advice when we first started, as we are surrounded by homeschoolers in our area. There is so much that is just trial and error. Maybe just a list of thoughts will be best for this question. Numbering gives me a feeling of chaos coming into order, which may mean more to you as you begin to homeschool. :)
- Read. Just read to your children. Every day. Even when they're babies. Stretch yourself and read things you normally wouldn't read.
- You will probably buy curriculum and resources that you just won't use. Along with this, you will probably buy too much at first. I've only just begun to know what will and will not work, so my choices are more trimmed these days.
- When I first started homeschooling, I was a ball of nerves and tried to fit everything into perfectly wrapped boxes, perfectly lined up, with perfectly creased edges. Anxiety still raises its head in our homeschool, especially as high school looms, and I've realized those early days shouldn't have been such a weight on my shoulders. Relax. Take a day off and go hiking or swimming or whatever you like. Go outside and marvel at the world around you. I know, I know, you've probably heard that. Children learn in different ways and at different speeds and if your 5-year-old isn't comprehending this or that, it really is okay. In most cases, many children will even out in the long run.
- On the other hand, trust your spidey-sense too. You know your child better than the other homeschooling mom who has been doing it for eons.
- Read all you can about homeschooling, curriculum, forum discussions, and general homeschooling articles. Even if you don't need a change in curriculum, just reading about the different options will give you ideas, and you can tuck the ideas away for that day when you have a problem to overcome in the trenches.
- It will most likely be helpful to figure out what your learning style is, along with your children's learning style. I'm very visual. I want the words in front of my face. Audiobooks don't cut it for me. I must see it to internalize it. My daughter is audio-driven. She learns more from me reading things out loud than reading it herself. I've had to learn how to tailor to her learning tendencies. I have her read things out loud to herself. Do stretch your child and yourself into the other areas of learning, though.
- Homeschooling isn't a race. Just because your friend's 5-year-old is reading The Hobbit doesn't mean yours should be too. Your kids are where they are, and if they're moving forward (and sometimes they'll stagnate for a while), it's okay. Keep working and moving. Dory from Nemo comes to mind, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."
- Heart-problems will raise their heads, and when you're with your kids this much, you may not notice them at first. When you finally realize that your son might be cheating, stop the boat and deal with that. The heart issues have priority in our house, and I'm working on dealing with these things instead of ignoring them. Sometimes I want to check the boxes off our to-do list and just get it done, but those attitudes aren't going anywhere. I don't want my kids to just act nicely, I want their hearts to be in line with their actions.
I could probably talk for hours about this, but I think I've touched what I feel are the most important parts of homeschooling that I've learned. Check out a wealth of information below on the other Sonlighter's blogs!