Choosing to Homeschool: Insights from a Novice


To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool?

Since I got married, I have had the desire to homeschool my kids at some point. As a public school Spanish teacher and believer in the power of education, I struggled to decide when or how to go about starting. Currently, my girls are one, three, and six. At the beginning of our journey, I felt extremely overwhelmed by the prospect and almost decided against it. I knew I would need a vision, a plan, and support in order to be successful. With the support of veteran homeschool moms and a lot of personal research, I took about a year and a half to assess my options. Four months in, I am here to share a few things I have learned from our first semester of homeschooling.

Know your Why

This was in so many of the homeschooling books I read before we began the journey, but I didn’t really understand how important it would be until the first day I felt overwhelmed and asked myself the question Why am I doing this? Not to mention, I have faced this question from countless friends and family members. In my family, we place a high value on travel, extra-curricular activities, and getting to be present for as much of our kids’ childhoods as possible. Also, our first year in public school showed me that getting out the door on time with multiple little ones and being tied to a traditional school schedule caused a LOT of unexpected stress. Over the last several months, we have enjoyed sleeping in, spur-of-the-moment trips to visit my in-laws in South Carolina, and lots of day trips to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware to visit friends and family. We can pack schoolwork or decide to make it an experiential learning day, but I don’t have to worry about my daughter being marked absent or her being too tired for school the next day. 

Like any life rhythm, things don’t always go according to plan. There are plenty of days when the baby doesn’t nap and my three-year-old spends a significant portion of the day in time-out, which makes it is crucial that I remember my why. It keeps me going and keeps us all from getting burned out.  

Know Your Limits

As a stay-at-home mom, it has been crucial to my well-being to be intentional in creating personal time that doesn’t include my children. For me, making the decision to homeschool my daughter did not mean that these things suddenly became less important. It simply meant I had to prioritize my needs and know what I could handle. I chose for our school year to last from after labor day until Memorial Day, allotting time for sick days and holidays. I did a significant amount of year-long goal setting before we started the school year, but now I typically plan one to two weeks in advance so that I don’t get overwhelmed by planning and don’t need to do it every day. If one of the kids is sick or we are just having a bad day, we take it easy that day or skip it altogether and snuggle up on the couch with a good book. I also make it a priority to go to bed at a decent time and am still making my best efforts to get up before them so that I can have some time to myself. Saying yes to homeschooling has meant that I have had to say “no” to other things, though, which has been difficult but worthwhile. This includes maintaining the level of home tidiness that I prefer. In this season where I wear the mom and teacher hat, I have to recognize that I can’t do it all.

Also, because I understand that life circumstances can change, I made a conscious decision to commit to one year of homeschooling at a time. If first grade goes well, we will go for second. If at some point it isn’t working for one of my kids or the subject matter is beyond my expertise, we will re-evaluate. No one has the bandwidth to commit to 12 years of education! I believe this sometimes deters parents from wanting to test the waters of homeschooling, but it shouldn’t.

Know your Neighborhood

This has been my favorite part of homeschooling so far! As a resident of the DC area, I have come to learn about numerous resources and adventures for my kids. When I sit down to plan our lessons and activities for the week, I plan around our adventures. What is happening in the city that week? How can we take our learning out of the classroom? I also do a lot of themed lessons and pay close attention to holiday festivities happening in the area. Additionally, I am utilizing my local library like never before. There are SO many free resources, books, articles, games, activities, and online materials that my daughter can access from home or from the library itself. In several locations in Montgomery County, your child can practice his or her reading skills by reading to a dog! We also attend story time with my toddler while my oldest daughter uses the kids’ encyclopedia to research a topic she is interested in. Don’t even get me started on the possibilities available at the Smithsonian museums. We try to attend at least one per week and it’s something we always look forward to.

Know Your County’s Requirements

Every county has different requirements for how to successfully complete a homeschool grade. As Montgomery County residents, it was as easy as going on the school county website, completing and submitting paperwork, and keeping a portfolio for my daughter to review with someone from the county once per semester. I use the Montgomery County Public Schools standards as a guide for what my daughter should be learning as a first grader in each of the subjects, and I keep an excel sheet and detailed planner to ensure that she is on the right track.

I hope this post has encouraged someone and given you some insight into the first few months of our homeschooling journey. Below are some resources I have found helpful.

Remember: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!”-Dr. Seuss


Resources to plan outings: Our site’s monthly Guide and Community Calendar, Kid-Friendly DC, and Certifikid.

Local Libraries with resources: Montgomery County Library, Washington, DC Library, Fairfax County Library, Prince George’s County Library, Alexandria, VA Library, Arlington, VA Library, Loudon County, VA Library

Books I love: The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson and Homeschool Basics by Tricia Goyer & Kristi Clover

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