Be a Better Homeschool Mom by Loosening Up

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Today Jimmie from Jimmie’s College and The Notebooking Fairy is sharing her very wise advice to “Loosen Up!”  This post is perfect for the new homeschooling mom (like me!) I know I need to take another look at my homeschool “plans” and loosen them up a bit.

I was recently on a panel of homeschool moms, talking to a group of other moms, many of whom were investigating this radical choice to educate their children at home.  We were asked to share advice for those just starting out.

For the most part, every woman on the panel had the same basic nugget of wisdom: loosen up.

When your children are small, enjoy the years of blunt scissors, white glue, and field trips to the zoo.  They pass quickly.

Do not urge children away from hands-on activities as if they are crutches for the weak of mind.  Enjoy them as long as you can.  There are many years ahead when those methods are not appropriate.  But for now, revel in them.

Counting bears are okay.  How many high schoolers do you see doing geometry with the help of counters?  None.  It’s like potty training and reading.  It happens in its time.  Don’t rush it.  Get the most out of your math manipulatives.  Wear them out.

Be aware of how much of your anxiety is based on your own pride instead of educational research or what your kids need.  Why are you eager for your children to write a full essay in third grade or master pre-algebra in sixth grade?  Could it possibly be that you desire the validation of ‘success’ and are fearful of your child being ‘behind’ because of what it says about you as a mom and a teacher? (The answer is yes. It is your pride. Deal with it.)

Do science experiments, get messy, and make memories.  The things that make you crazy are often the things that the children remember most fondly in their adult years.  Be a super mom and make those memories with them.

Trust the process. Your children are not missing out by not going to school.  Their exposure to real life with intelligent adults and children of various ages will teach them far more than the classroom will.  Homeschooling works.  Lay back and float in it.  It will hold you up.

Don’t duplicate school at home.  That path is stressful, unnecessary, and often expensive.  Blaze your own path by listening to what your children are curious about.

Get a library card and a museum or zoo membership.  You don’t need fancy curriculum.  You need books, games, and situations where life can happen.

I wish that I had heard this advice when I was starting out as a homeschool mom.  Although I was by no means a homeschool drill sergeant, looking back I do see areas where I pushed a little too soon.  I doubted the process with a stream of “what ifs” that caused unnecessary anxiety.  So even as I offer this advice, I totally understand how difficult it is to follow in real life.  As I move into the high school years with my daughter, I continually remind myself to heed my own advice to trust the process and keep it simple.  Just loosen up.

Jimmie Lanley is the mother of one creative teenaged daughter.  Living abroad in China necessitated the original choice to homeschool.  But now that she and her family are back in Tennessee, Jimmie can’t imagine any other way to educate her middle schooler.  Jimmie’s Collage is where she blogs about her Charlotte Mason styled homeschool.  In the early years, Jimmie’s lesson plans were full of hands-on activities and lapbooks.  As the years passed, she began using more and more notebooking and became so passionate about the method that she created her second blog, The Notebooking Fairy.  That site features free notebooking printables and how-tos plus the affordable eBook guide Notebooking Success. You can also find Jimmie on Facebook, Twitter and of course Google +


Image Credits: Alec Mills

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  • Reply
    July 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I completely and totally agree!! I used to think that I had to push and push in order to keep my kids ahead of everyone else to validate our homeschooling. I have since learned that it isn’t about that. I don’t need validation from outside sources. I relaxed a lot last year and plan on relaxing even more in the coming year. 🙂 It’s so freeing!

    • Reply
      July 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      I love your comment Stacy! I have to agree that there seems to be a pressure to keep our kids ahead of other’s to validate homeschooling… that is such an easy trap to fall into! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the article….this whole thing is a balancing act.

    I bought 7 bottles of glitter glue (one bottle of each color and 2 bottles of pink) last night at Walmart. My girls were ecstatic. I went to bed wondering if I should return those little bottles of mess-makers. Maybe I need to loosen up. 🙂

    • Reply
      July 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      I have to admit that I am NOT a huge fan of making a mess. Ok, I can’t stand messes!! I know I really need to get over it!! That is the BIG area that I really need to loosen up in!!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Stacy, you are right. Loosening up is freeing! It’s a great way to school and live.

    Shelah, please keep the glitter glue! Make memories (and messes).

  • Reply
    July 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I wish I had read this when my eldest was 5yo and I was cramming blend ladders down her throat, although I probably wouldn’t have listened :). It’s so true though, trust the process, use tons of hands-on stuff early on and they will enjoy learning. Great post!

    • Reply
      July 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      I’m just starting this year and it is SO hard to not push our children to do more, learn more, be better – it’s so easy to forget that they are children and they will learn, in time.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Love this: “Be aware of how much of your anxiety is based on your own pride instead of educational research or what your kids need.”

    There are so many great bits of wisdom in here — and not just for the NEW homeschooling moms, either. We all need to hear this. Thanks, Jimmi!

    • Reply
      July 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      I agree, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to set aside my pride. This is one of the very best pieces of advice that I’ve heard about homeschooling! I think I might even put this on a post-it somewhere so I’m reminded. Gotta love Jimmie!!

  • Reply
    Cindy Alewine
    July 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Good stuff!

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