Thankfully I heard about homeschooling through a co-worker of my husband's when our oldest was only five years old. He was a delayed five year old and we had already decided to wait a year before starting him in Kindergarten given his late August birthday. It was at this point I first heard about homeschooling. I decided to give it a try and called it my "bonus year." After all, if I messed it all up, I'd simply enroll him in public school the next fall, as already planned. No harm no foul right?
Well, I learned to eventually love homeschooling for all of its myriad benefits. This was quickly apparent when I was trying to teach my son to read with the ever popular How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 EZ Lessons book. It was NOT easy for us. Often one or both of us would end our sessions in tears. You see, it's more than just reading. The book also teaches writing, how to form the letters the child is learning to read. Did I mention my son was delayed? He didn't even start talking until age three and here I was, at age five, thinking I would be able to easily teach him to read and write. No problem! Ha!
The best and biggest piece of advice I received was from the woman who mentored me that first year. The one I could call up and say, "It's just not working!" She had been homeschooling for a lot longer than I at that point. Her advice: "Use what works and don't use the rest." In other words, the reading lessons were actually going well, but the writing? That was miserable. I remember literally gasping and saying, "I can do that?!" I'm sure many of you have felt that way too at one point. It almost feels a little decadent, a bit like cheating. I can skip part of the book? I don't have to follow the lessons in order? I can use the math book from that publisher but the English from a different one? I don't have to make my home look like the inside of a classroom?
Homeschooling is best done in the way that works best for your family. There is no one-size-fits all. Even if something worked wonderfully for your oldest child, it may or may not work for the next kiddo in line. And be wary of trying to make your homeschool look like your friend's. Every single family, every single child, every single subject can be done differently. Throw out the cookie-cutter molds and start really experiencing the freedom of homeschooling.
The ultimate goal, after all, is to make sure we instill a love of learning within our children. It won't matter what age they were when they started to read, or when they learned fractions, or even when they learned about George Washington. It's not like anyone will ever ask them that in a job interview. What's important is that they learn how to learn and enjoy doing so. That is the skill that will take them the furthest in the world.