Sit back, friends, I am going to share a secret with you. Ready?
I don’t know everything about homeschooling. I don’t always know what to do with my gaggle of kids. I don’t always know if I’m pushing too hard or not enough or if we should just throw in the towel.
Yup. We’ve been homeschooling for nearly ten years and I still have lots of questions. I still research and reach out to parents with kids the same age or older in my homeschool community. Maybe it’s because I like feedback. Or maybe it’s because I like connecting with others and sharing ideas and struggles.
When we first started homeschooling, I researched ALL the topics as if knowing all the things was THE key to making everything perfect and orderly and creative and fun.
Fast forward several years. We moved twice. We have three kids in middle and high school. We juggle some health issues, classes, co-ops, activities, and very different personalities.
Often times, it feels like we’ve started over again with this whole homeschooling gig. Because we have. Homeschooling teens comes with its own set of challenges.
Be willing to ask questions & get help
As homeschooling parents, we cannot accomplish everything on our own. Just because we’ve taken on the task of home educating our children doesn’t mean that we cannot and should not ask for help.
New to homeschooling? Ask questions.
Experienced homeschooling veteran? Ask questions.
You don’t need to know it all when it comes to homeschooling your kids. You've got to be willing to stop and change things for you or your child (or to just change).
My teen is an out-of-the-box learner and I already knew his high school path might not look like what I had imagined years ago. In fact, I had researched a few small local schools because I was feeling totally overwhelmed. I knew in my heart these schools wouldn’t be the right fit, but I wanted to consider all the options.
My head was swirling with questions. I talked to local friends. I talked to friends online. I scoured education blog posts and homeschool curriculum websites.
I need expert guidance for this homeschooling journey, especially during the high school years. I needed someone who’d been down this path with a teen similar to mine and could listen and offer suggestions.
Enter the homeschool consultant.
How a homeschool consultant helped me
I had entertained using a homeschool consultant in the past. In fact, I had also entertained being a homeschool consultant at one point (even homeschooling veterans with something to offer to other homeschoolers find an outside perspective helpful).
I was excited when I discovered that an online friend and blogger whom I admire offered one-on-one consulting. She’s a mom of four with an impressive track record and two kids already off to college. Better yet, she’s a supporter of interest-led learning and creating homeschool plans that help check the boxes for college (if needed) and putting together a high school transcript that won’t make you pull your hair out.
I was already working through her self-paced homeschooling high school course, but I knew I needed more. I had specific questions that were unique to my teen and our situation. Fortunately, I was able to get on her schedule within a few days of reaching out to her.
Prior to the meeting, I sent her a detailed email outlining our homeschooling experience, my son's interests and strengths, his weaknesses, our current daily schedule, and my thoughts about college.
I included his current schedule of classes and his extracurricular activities. It was important for her to have a well-rounded picture of my teen so we could make the most of our time together. I printed out some files I had from her online course and grabbed my notebook so I could jot down ideas while we talked.
The actual consultation lasted a little over an hour, and it was incredibly enlightening and beneficial. After walking through his entire schedule, we discussed future plans, and she gave me some great ideas for creating a solid homeschool transcript. My state has minimal requirements, which can be a blessing and a curse.
She helped me devise a flexible four-year plan that takes into account his style of learning, his interests, and the foundation that my husband and I would like him to have.
Another perk to the consultation was hearing her stories, since she has been down this path before and has experience. This is crucial!
Things to consider when choosing a homeschool consultant:
If you are interested in hiring a homeschool consultant (sometimes called a homeschool coach), be sure to ask yourself the below questions:
- Do you want a local person you can meet with in person or will an online meeting (i.e. Zoom or Skype or phone call) suffice? This will be a personal choice, but the great thing about technology is that you can still work “face-to-face” with someone without leaving your house. Homeschooling parents are busy!
- What is your budget to spend on hiring a consultant? Will you need one meeting? Monthly coaching? Be sure to research your options before committing.
- Does the homeschool consultant share a similar homeschooling philosophy as you? This is important. It wouldn’t have worked for me or my kid to meet with someone whose ideas of homeschooling high school didn’t mesh with our family’s goals, my kid’s goals, and learning styles. And yes, friends, you do need to take your kid’s strengths and weaknesses into account, or your new plan will be over before it starts.
- What is your desired outcome? A homeschool consultant will have a difficult time helping you if you don't have a goal in mind.
- What will be your next steps be after the consultation?
Working with a homeschool consultant has been a positive experience for me. We've already taken some of her ideas and applied them to our homeschool.
I've been able to take a deep breath and know that I can do this. After the consultation, my teen and I had a great talk about the next few years and what his goals are and how he hopes to achieve them with our high school plans.
Homeschooling requires stamina.
Homeschooling requires a sense of humor.
Homeschooling requires a partnership with your kid.
Homeschooling requires asking questions and asking for help.
A homeschool consultant might just be the breath of fresh air you and your homeschool needs. Have you worked with a homeschool consultant? Let us know in the comments below!
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