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Help! Need Advice for Newbie HS Mom

I have been asked to give some advice to a young mom who has come to the conclusion that she should probably homeschool next year.  This was not her dream in life, and her five children are very young—the oldest is in public school grade 2. 

What is the most important, most helpful information to give without overwhelming her?  I could talk for hours, days even, about all sorts of aspects of homeschooling, but now I want to present the most crucial elements in a quick morning visit.

Here are some suggestions I had in mind for her (in no particular order):

  • Use 100 Top Picks by Cathy Duffy to determine what style of homeschooling would suit her family best.
  • Take out a membership in HSLDA.  Our province is homeschool friendly, but issues sometimes arise when a family pulls children out of school.
  • Be sure to take time for Bible reading, sleep, fresh air, and exercise.
  • Streamline all the daily tasks such as food preparation, laundry, and cleaning.
  • Check out my favourite homeschool supplier, Heritage Resources, which has excellent service as well as the best prices I’ve seen in Canada. 
  • Check out The Teaching Home getting started section. Also look at all their archived newsletters for free and well-organized answers to any homeschool questions.   
  • Check out The Old Schoolhouse e-newsletter archives for encouragement and support.
  • Learn from others, but avoid comparisons.

Now, I know there are at least a thousand (make that a million) other things I could be telling her, but that would be so overwhelming.  I don’t know how to choose, and therefore I’m asking you.

What are the most important things that help you homeschool?  What advice would you give a newbie homeschooler?


  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Anna Kate. I just had a friend pull her child from school and she asked me for advice. She also has a few small ones at home.

    This is the best advice I've got. Start out by doing NOTHING school related for 2 or 3 days. Relax. Remember what it's like to be together for that many hours. Bake something together, have fun, reconnect. Then START SLOWLY. Start with Language Arts and Math and household chores for a week or two. Get used to the idea of homeschool. Wade in. If you try to dive in head first to all the subjects you'll be overwhelmed on day one and back at the school office asking for re enrollment forms on day 2!

    There's my .02! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

    Tricia from the TOS Crew


  2. Anonymous says:

    That's a great suggestion, Tricia. I think it will make a huge difference! Thank you.

    Annie Kate

  3. knechtslodge says:

    Free curriculum guide at http://www.simplycharlottemason.com for Charlotte Mason users. Very easy to use for large families that need to teach kids of various ages at once.



  4. AnnieKate says:

    Oh, thank you, Diane! I had forgotten about that, and Ambleside Online as well (although the latter is not so easy for large families).

    Annie Kate

  5. jenn4him says:

    I think the most important thing you mentioned was not to compare yourself to others. I have wasted a lot of time there. I think it is a lesson you must learn on your own over time, if you are going to be successful at home education.



  6. LarabaK says:

    I have 2 pieces of advice:

    1. Pray that God will enable you not to be anxious. Homeschooling seems like such a big job. I guess it is, really. There is a lot of responsibility and it is easy to get frantic that we are failing to teach our children well. Our 6th child was born when our eldest was in 2nd grade, so I've been there. We've weathered morning sickness, newborns, miscarriages, minor car accidents, chicken massacres, and H1N1 while homeschooling. There are many interruptions in the life of any family, maybe especially a large one. DON'T WORRY. If God has called you to do this, he'll enable you to do it well.

    2. Realize that homeschooling will not look like public school. I initially envisioned desks, a flag, a chalkboard, and me up there lecturing. It hasn't turned out that way at all. The public school model may work well for some families, but I believe most do better with curling up on the couch, very short hours (even now we rarely have more 2 hours of formal school a day, and our eldest is almost 10), and lots of reading, talking, and exploring together.


  7. IllinoisLoriH says:

    Absolutely do NOT give her curriculum lists and catalogs and reviews and…and…and…!

    As another said, tell her that when she's first starting out, she should just enjoy her time with her kids! She needs to 'get' the concept that homeschooling is very different than "doing school at home." Since she's coming out of the public school, as I did with my kids back when, if you give her curriculum samples and catalogs, she'll pick what looks like school, and will try to replicate the classroom at home. Believe me, it's a recipe for disaster and discouragement!

    With little/young ones, there is NO need for a curriculum right off the bat. She has plenty of time. Here's what I would offer her:

    MATH = cooking yummy recipes in the kitchen with mom! Fill the measuring cups with raisins (they don't make dust and are easier to clean up than rice or sugar)…see how 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup = 1/2 cup? Littlest ones can add 1 raisin + 1 raisin = 2 raisins. Oldest one can learn the fractions. Do it with 1/4 teaspoons of sugar or salt. Learn how many cups in a quart, quarts in a gallon. Count everything you can…how many plates, how many towels, how many forks, spoons, and knives? How many days in a month/year? No curriculum needed.

    READING: Again, no curriculum needed here! Just cuddle on the couch and read the books you have. Get the children each a library card, and take them to all the special "readalouds" that they have that you can. Check out books. No cost! To teach a child to read, best one I've seen is "How To Read in 100 Easy Lessons." One simple book. We used that plus the Pathway Readers from Rod & Staff. Website here: http://www.rodandstaffbooks.com/list/Pathway_Readers/

    Spelling: Learn to spell the books of the Bible! Pick a couple of words from each book your child is reading, and learn to spell those. NO spelling lists until they are reading!

    Science: Go outdoors! Take walks! Talk about clouds, bugs, squirrels! Get a magnifying glass, a pad of paper, and a pencil. Sketch EVERYTHING you study under the magnifying glass! Write it's name underneath. Older children can color in with colored pencils (not crayons…they'll try harder to be neat and accurate in "science" drawings with pencil!). Whatever book you are reading during couch-snuggle time, there will be something in it you could study…like, the moon, or a cloud, or an animal, or a tree. This is the principle behind Five In A Row curriculum.

    Speaking of FIAR, if your friend feels like she wants something to use, so she feels like "she's doing school," have her start with FIAR. With young ones, it's the best! We used that for our first year, while I was trying to get used to this new way of life. It gave me a guide, which I wanted and needed, but it didn't create a "workbook" mentality.

    I would also suggest that you have her get a couple Diana Waring books, the most important one being "50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share Things We Wish We'd Known." Website here:


    I also recommmend her "Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant Life Homeschooling." Diana's books changed my life…I highly recommend them!

    Hope this helps…it keeps you from feeling like you have to explain "curriculum choices" to her, and prevents her from being overwhelmed by something she should not be even looking at right now!


    Lori (aka Plans4You and Serenity in the Suburbs)

  8. Anonymous says:

    IMO I would share the most important reasons ie. spiritual, character development, enjoying learning together. I would also throw out a full curriculum option (we like Timberdoodle's) because as great as literature or hands on learning is it can also feel overwhelming.

    Just my thoughts as a hs momma who's been overwhelmed.



  9. proverbsmama says:

    Remember that it is HOMEschool, not homeSCHOOL.

    Turn off your TV. My 13 yo dd isn't a strong reader/doesn't like to read. I attribute most of that to her being allowed to watch way too much TV.

    Realize that there will be days that are better spent w/o doing any "school." Every day is a learning experience, and it doesn't always have to include textbook learning. When I was going through my peak season of PMS issues, I knew there was one Friday of each month that we just could not do school. My emotions couldn't handle it. We did fun stuff instead and made those days special.

    Join a hs board online. Your local group can help, but ours has really dwindled over the years. I think a lot of that is because of the resources you can find online.

    Learn to menu plan if you don't do so already!

    And remember, through Christ, you CAN do it!

    I hope that helps! 🙂

    Edited by proverbsmama on Nov. 25, 2009 at 3:49 PM

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