You dipped your toe into the homeschooling waters to see if this way of life could work for your family, and now maybe it's been a few years and you're all in.
You're committing to homeschooling for the long haul. You're committing to something that, well, affects every single aspect of your life. As a homeschooling parent, you must prepare yourself for this amazing homeschool marathon.
Now that we've been homeschooling for 11 years, I created a list of the top seven things to consider when you're homeschooling for the long haul.
Homeschooling for the long haul? Be sure to...
1. Take good care of your physical health
I know this might seem super obvious, but I see so many homeschooling parents ignoring their own physical health. In fact, I was one of them many years ago. We cannot home educate and care for our families day in and day out, year after year unless we take good care of our physical health.
We must model this for our families since we spend so much time together. Talk about health and wellness in ways that make sense for your family. Schedule your fitness time into your days. Teach your kids to prep and cook food (even just the basics!). If you're tired (and you will be tired some days) please take a nap. Try to go to bed early. I pinky promise it is okay and worth it.
2. Manage your mental health
Let's not pretend that homeschooling is all rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns. I see too many Instagram posts, blogs, and other forms of media that showcase homeschooling as a perfectly perfect panacea. And then you start questioning and comparing yourself to things you're seeing, it can take a toll.
Or, perhaps you're juggling an intense season of life that has nothing to do with homeschooling but everything to do with just trying to get by minute to minute. Please ask for help. Please understand that your mental health is more important than a read-aloud or a math test. And above all else, please know you're not alone.
3. Engage in outside hobbies and interests
If you hang around me at all, you're probably sick of me talking about the importance of having outside interests. As homeschooling parents, we positively ROCK at supporting our kiddos with their outside interests and will move mountains for them.
I fully support this and I do it myself. However, we must invest time back into ourselves as humans so that we can grow, explore our own interests, and (gasp) HAVE FUN!
4. Create community and connections
Homeschooling for the long haul requires community and connections. I know it's not always easy to do, but you (and your family) need both. Life is meant to be lived together and the more support we have, the better. And because I know homeschooling through the teen years can be tricky, I've written about creating friendships for homeschooled teens too.
5. Be flexible and have a sense of humor
Raise your hand if you love a good homeschool plan. Now raise your other hand if your plans sometimes (okay, often) fall through or completely change on a dime.
I see you, friend.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned through the years is that flexibility and a sense of humor are crucial. I'm not saying don't plan for anything.
When my kids started high school, I put a loose homeschool plan in place based on what I thought they needed to cover over their last four years. My oldest's plan completely changed two years in and I am so thankful that we were able to support him as needed. I'm also thankful that I've had many (many) laughs with him and with my friends.
6.Watch out for burnout
Even if you're taking good care of yourself, you will most likely experience a touch of homeschool burnout. The key is to look for the warning signs and take gentle action before it consumes you and takes down your homeschool completely.
Plan for breaks. Plan for time away from your awesome kids because it's needed. Have a plan for February (if you know you know). Lean on your friends. And don't forget that you don't need to be a superhero to be a super homeschooling parent.
7. Find a mentor
I am a big proponent of connecting with mentors, both for you, as the parent, and for your children.
Because of the enormous variety of curriculum, homeschooling styles, classes available, and more, don't feel like you have to carry it all on your shoulders. Find a homeschool mentor who can come alongside you and give guidance. I've had homeschool mentors since day one and they have made such a difference.
I hope you find this guide helpful and encouraging. What else would you add to this list? Are you homeschooling for the long haul? Let me know in the comments.