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What do you NEED in order to homeschool?

Summer time is THE time for the homeschool curious.

Parents all around the country start to feel the weight of that looming kindergarten year.

Google searches begin, and Facebook groups everywhere start to field questions such as, "What curriculum do you use?" and "What do you need in order to homeschool?" Homeschooling seems like a foreign country to those of us raised in the public system. Here is a complete list of what you NEED in order to homeschool.

Patience During Developmental Stages

Good news! You have been practicing patience since the birth of your child. Every time another sleep regression pops up and you power through, you are strengthening your tolerance for your child's growth.

You see, learning isn't linear.

Just as a baby will sleep all night long for one week and then wake every two hours the next, your young child may learn 15 letters in one week and then cry if you broach the subject of letters at Granny's house a week later.

The cycle between explosion and stagnation is the pattern through which children grow, and it will repeat itself hundreds of times as you homeschool your child. If you hope to be a successful teacher, you will learn to observe this pattern with patience, and hold tight an unshakable faith in your child's natural development.

If you struggle with holding space for your children as they ebb and flow through developmental leaps, I HIGHLY suggest surrounding yourself with homeschooling friends who cultivate a growth mindset in their own homes. When you are struggling in the darkness, they will be the light you need.

Unwavering Curiosity is the Homeschool Goat

When very young, kiddos can not read or travel to the library, and they shouldn't have unfettered access to the internet, so children need YOU to help them explore.

Curious young children need YOU to read the all the books and look up all the answers.

  • Why do clouds look different?

  • How long do butterflies live?

  • Why do seeds need to be buried?

  • How long ago were cookies invented?

  • How does the phone get Granny's voice into my ear?

If you are not naturally curious, this will be a constant "to-do"... finding the answer will be an effort you have to make instead of a fun game. Repeat finding these spontaneous answers 100+ times a day for 365 days for 10 years- and the difference in homeschooling experiences between a curious mom and an "effort maker" will be substantial.

What to do if you struggle with these constant questions? Alexa makes a great homeschool assistant. Occasionally the children throw so many questions in a row I can feel her sigh. My older boys especially enjoy settling debates with "her highness". If you would prefer something less tech heavy, try a "Let's go look!" book. Each time your child comes to you with a spontaneous question, write it down. The next time you swing by the library you can tackle the questions one at a time.

Whatever coping strategy you find, make sure it doesn't squash your child's natural curiosity. The desire to know ALL THE THINGS is the fuel that drives easy, organic learning.

Strength, Strength, & More Strength

There are four kinds of strength you will need while homeschooling.

First, you will need the strength of conviction necessary to face the naysayers. There WILL be people in your life who think you are making a grave mistake. Take their concerns seriously (They just want the best for your children, after all.) but stay strong enough to keep on the path. Hold faith in yourself and faith in your child. You CAN do this.

Second, you will need emotional strength to keep going during ruts. There will be hours, days, weeks, even months at a time when it feels like something is not working. Wake up, give your best, and do the next right thing. These seasons always pass. Make sure you can be proud of what you see looking back once you are on the other side of the season.

Third, you will need the humble strength of self-evaluation. If something is going wrong while you are homeschooling there are only a handful of issues that could be the culprit. Perhaps your child needs different materials. Perhaps your child is in a developmental slump. And perhaps... just perhaps... YOU are inadvertently causing the fire. Be strong enough to look at the parts of you that need fixing. There is no personal developmental tool quite as effective as parenting.

Lastly, (And I know this one is not going to make me any friends.) you need to be physically fit. I don't mean you need to be making gains on the bench press every day. I mean, you do not want to get to a position where you can't take a particular field trip because the day would be too hard on your knees. If you can't take a hike through woods because of your physical status, work on that. Your children are relying on you for their experiences, so make sure you can be relied upon.

Patience, curiosity, and strength. That's it. That's what you NEED in order to homeschool effectively. It doesn't matter how fabulous your curriculum is if you don't have the patience and strength necessary to work through it. And if you accidentally squash their natural wonder, you will find yourself swimming against the tide the whole way.

"But what about the curriculum?" you might say. "What about making sure you are legally compliant?" Sure. Those are important details, and I wrote more about them here. But they aren't the most important things.

While legal compliance and a reliable curriculum are two important boxes to check, they aren't what you actually NEED to build a great homeschool experience. Successfully homeschooling your children demands something entirely different. You need patience, curiosity, and strength.

You can do this,

Buckets & Berries

Three children are pictured playing with a blue print building block game. The picture is captioned with the phrase, "What do you need to successfully homeschool? Patience, Curiosity, Strength" And the Buckets and Berries logo.


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