Before you spend one dime, consider this…
Define success – whatever your end goal is. Maybe it is a temporary situation because your family is in transition. Maybe your end goal is to homeschool until highschool. Or maybe your goal is to go for the long haul and graduate your kiddos out of your homeschool. Define success by what your ultimate goal is. Note: your goal may change from year to year. Redefining success needs to be part of your planning each year and for each student.
Now that you have a working definition of success, let’s get to the meat of what it takes to be successful at homeschooling.
Recognize that everyone’s desire to homeschool is not identical. Your desire is directly related to your ultimate goal. You may have the greatest and purest desire to homeschool each of your kiddos to the very best of your ability. You may also have zero desire to homeschool your kiddos, but circumstances have dictated the necessity to do so. Owning your level of desire to homeschool is absolutely key before you make any other decisions toward homeschooling. Rate your desire from 0 to 10 (10 being the most optimistic and highest level of desire). Hold on to that number because we’ll use that to determine the best curriculum options for your homeschool below. But first, we have two more Absolutes to consider.
“No man is an island…”
It doesn’t matter what your enneagram number is nor whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. No human is wired for complete isolation. No. Not even you.
Do not enter the realm of Homeschooling without finding your tribe; your support; your lifeline.
I hope my warnings are clear enough. Community, as I use it, is the term which means other people that homeschool.
Find. Your. Community.
This can be a co-op, a book club, a play-date group, a park meet-up group, or any other gathering of other humans that meet on a regular basis. It doesn’t count if it is not on a regular basis. Random coffee dates don’t count! Your kiddos need other kiddos. YOU NEED OTHER HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS!! It is not optional. It is vital.
You can begin your search on Facebook by searching your town and the word “homeschool.” If you live in a town of 30 people, search the nearest town to you. Commit to commute if you live in the middle of nowhere, which is fairly common for homeschoolers. I directed a Homeschool Community that met once a week and over half the community traveled an hour or more to participate, because they understood the vitality of having Community!!
The final key component to ensure the success of your homeschool is YOUR self-discipline. Notice I didn’t say it was the discipline of your kiddos or their cooperation level. Rest assured, your students will more than likely offer more resistance than cooperation on any given school day! For that reason alone, disciplining yourself is the beginning of success for this mission. Don’t buy the first book before you commit to this mission with all of your heart and soul.
After you commit, write down your goal. At first your goal may be very generalized; for example: “Show up 5 days per week and dedicate 5 hours of my day solely to schooling my children.” Once you have nailed down your goals, put them in print so you can see them and recommit, DAILY!! Revise these goals as often as necessary. The more you learn about homeschooling, the more narrow and concise these goals will become. For example: “To create an environment 4 days per week that is free from distractions for my students to focus and efficiently complete their work; to continue directing 1 day per week in a homeschool community so that my students and I can continue nurturing friendships and receive social support.”
Note about goals: goal setting is a subject of its own in our homeschool. Learning to be deliberate and purposeful in our actions is a daily discipline. Consider setting goals in several areas of your homeschooling; such as fieldtrip goals, deadline goals for certain subjects, goals for studying certain subjects or topics, goals for character training, etc. The goal setting above for yourself is a simple one-liner or short bio that sets the boundaries of your role in your homeschool.
The information your gathered about yourself above in thinking through your Desire, Community and Discipline will assist you greatly in the plethora of decisions you will have to now make in the logistical planning phase. The what, when, where, how and why. To get an idea of how much information, resources and products are available to homeschoolers nowadays, just do a quick search on Amazon Books for “homeschool.” As of the publishing of this article, there were over 50,000 results. So, I will only give you a spark to light your fire in this post. Here are some ideas to get you started in your own research about the options available to you.
If you rated your Desire between 0 and 5, I recommend investing in a full homeschool curriculum (box or online) to shift the entire responsibility of planning to a ready-made system:
If you rated your Desire between 6–8, I recommend these resources which will share the responsibility of planning with you, but leave the majority of decision making in your hands:
If you are ready to jump in full boar, which means you rated yourself at a 9 or 10 and want to maintain full control of the entire day but just need a little help with the content:
https://www.classicalconversations.com (community and curriculum)
Take-Away: Before spending one dime on homeschooling materials, consider these 3 things: DESIRE, COMMUNITY, and DISCIPLINE.