The hardest part of homeschooling is the beginning

The first few months of homeschooling were terrifying to me. I have a very social son who had no one to play with.  And I had no idea how to fix that. You guys gave me tons of suggestions. And everything you told me turned out to be true. But the best advice I got was that it’ll happen in time. He’ll make friends, just give him time.

I did not believe it. I’m not a wait-and-see kind of person. But so much of homeschooling is wait-and-see. So much is being patient while the kid learns at his own speed. So much is waiting to see what the kids want to learn. I’m a planner. I’m about hard-driving, achievement-oriented blue-ribbon lifestyles. I work very hard to not force this onto my kids. (Even though I hope hope hope that one of them chooses this for himself.)

So we did cello and skateboarding and dance and all the things my social son chose. And we struggled with scheduling playdates because kids are in school all day (so annoying) and we struggled to match our schedules up with the homschool kids who seem to be largely unscheduled (also annoying).

But in the end, he has friends. He has some friends who go to school, he has some friends who are homeschooled, and he has this little girl, who is his cello friend. Recently, he went to a cello festival, where kids take lessons all weekend. And he and this girl, who knew each other from an earlier festival, were inseparable.

It’s a great lesson for me in patience. I do not have to have every piece of homeschooling worked out from the start. I can let homeschooling unfold in its own way, and trust that the kids will get what they need when they need it. It’s hard for me to not control everything. But I’m learning.

9 replies
  1. Mark K
    Mark K says:

    Beautiful post Penelope. And it’s so gratifying to watch as you grow through this process.

    You entered into it thinking you were doing it for your kids, and you are, but there is so much more to it. Raising children this way is itself a profoundly educational and healing process for an adult–for a family.

  2. karelys
    karelys says:

    So cute!

    You know what’s funny? In school he’d get to socialize with other kids. But to make a friend, an inseparable friend, it’s also wait and see.

    It takes time.

    Unless you are lucky to find that friend from the beginning. But it doesn’t always workout like that.

  3. Lisa S
    Lisa S says:

    I tell people who are just starting out that it takes two years to get their “school legs.” It takes that long to find friends, figure out a schooling style, and gain confidence in knowing what works.

    That being said, I’m six years into this thing, and yet we still reinvent ourselves a little bit each month. That’s the beauty of a small system — changes can be made more quickly and easily.

  4. Marilia
    Marilia says:

    Nice! I´m getting ready to unshcool my almost 5-year old. Right now the kindergarten (a sweet one) is great, but I can´t imagine her learning to sit in rows at 50 minutes at a time when she is 6, no way.

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Generally speaking, I think any teacher, who says they aren’t learning from their students), is either not telling the truth or is not a very good teacher.
    I heard on the radio today what I believe applies to homeschooling – there are no graduates and no degrees because the learning never ends.

  6. Marie
    Marie says:

    Thank you for sharing your homeschooling experiences. I want to homeschool my son as well. He’s one so it’s a good think I’m reading this now. It’ll probably take about 4 years of encouragement for me to feel up to the challenge, ha.

    • Susan
      Susan says:

      Marie, you are already teaching your child. Homeschooling is no different. It’s just an extension of what you are doing without handing your child over to “the system” to take over where you left off. Just keep on doing what you’re doing. That’s what homeschooling is: letting your child learn at home, just as he did from birth. Homeschooling is so natural; as long as you don’t let others freak you out and make you believe it takes an “expert” to teach your child, you will be okay. You can do it because you already are doing it!

  7. Tracey Mansted
    Tracey Mansted says:

    Ah, friendships and “socialisation” – the huge fear created by schools and naysayers : )

    Just like adults, kids take time to make connections. Chances are homeschooling will help you make good friends too – sharing a mindset really helps weed out the interesting people from the others. I wrote a post on our adventures/realisations about socialisation:

    Pleased you are all settling into your rhythm.

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