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Where do I start? I want to homeschool my child but feel overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start thinking about homeschooling your child?

The task of deciding what is best for your child's learning at home can seem really daunting and difficult if finances are tight and you desire to keep it truly South African. There is a combination of a ton of resources to choose from that are amazing but also the fact that many of those resources are not made for a South African context.

But I want to start at the beginning. Your child is 3 or 4 years old. You've realized you need to think about getting them ready for Grade R and making a plan for their education (at least for next year; or if you're like me you stress about the next 18 years and need to guard against that). You love your child so much and want what is best for him/her. You have gotten to know what they like and how they learn best over the past 3-4 years and have loved watching them grow and develop and learn so many new things. You want them to keep enjoying learning but you also are fearful that if you homeschool you may not be able to give them all they need.

First of all, homeschooling is not for everyone. So before you start, think about it together with your husband, or close friends/family. Pray for wisdom. Think through what the schools in your area offer and what the fees are and also the season of life you are in. Homeschooling is a full time job and requires commitment and planning. So don't jump into it lightly. But also know that if it doesn't work you can always change next year. Take each year as it comes; make the best decision for your child for THIS year. Don't worry about their matric year when they are only 4. Part of that is because you don't know the future and part of that is your child's needs may change from year to year. So being willing to re-evaluate each year not only frees you up to not fear the future but also helps you to do what is best as you grow to know how your child learns best (which comes with a lot of trial and error).

I have 4 children and homeschool all of them. They now range from grade 2 up to grade 7. Here are some things I've learned over the years (although I still have a lot to learn):

  • Only worry about THIS YEAR. You can stress about your preschooler's matric another time :) Take one year at a time.

  • You know your child best Get input and advice, but make decisions that are best for YOUR child.

  • EVERY child is unique Your child is different from others, and each of your children is different from one another. They all learn differently and need different things.

  • EVERY parent is unique You will not teach the same way another parent does and that is ok. Learn from others, ask for advice and wisdom, and then choose the way that fits you and your family dynamics best.

  • Pursue joy There will be doubts, most days, and discouragement, and fears that come up, but don't let that take away your joy - happiness that doesn't depend on circumstances. Try to pursue joy in learning together. Take a day to do something fun for a change if needed.

  • Do your best and then rest No one is perfect, not even homeschooling moms. :) You won't always get it right. Do your best, then rest. Tomorrow is a new day.

  • Enjoy today. Tomorrow comes way too fast. Your children won't be little forever. When they grow up you'll miss the little years (even if that seems impossible right now). So enjoy them and have fun learning together!

If you still want to homeschool, here are some practical thoughts:

  1. Make a plan and stick with it (this year) - if it goes badly, change it up next year but be consistent now

  2. Figure out which method of learning works best for you (as the teacher) and your child (as the student): learn through play, Montessori, classical learning, Charlotte Mason, eclectic (some of everything), etc.

  3. Choose a style of curriculum: everything ready to go vs. pick and choose and make your own.

  4. Look at curriculum that fits those categories and make a choice for what to use this year (or this Phase). (if you're going the eclectic route, your job is a bit harder, like mine. I check CAPS and make a big picture plan for the year and choose curriculum to fit each topic and subject.)

  5. Register for homeschooling with DBE. Take a look at our recent blog post for steps on how to register.

  6. Order all the materials you need and create a system for recording and keeping track of books and work done. I use display folders, and shelves or boxes. Each subject has a folder or a notebook and I keep one folder with all their assessments (put them there once finished so you don't have to search for them at the end of term). Send us a message if you need help with ideas.

  7. Make a plan for THIS WEEK (no, you don't have to plan out the whole year as long as you know what you're aiming for). Use our awesome homeschool planner to help. I personally have one for each child and helps keep me organized too! Or you can have your own parent planner if you prefer. I plan every weekend for the following week (if I have extra time I'll do 2 weeks in advance to give me some breathing space).

  8. Start slow and build. You don't have to get it right the first week. I am a former public school teacher. Even at public school it takes a few weeks to really get into a routine. Give yourself time, start small, and build up to what you want your days to look like. Give it at least a month to establish a routine.

  9. Ask for help. There is no shame in asking others for help if something isn't working or you have doubts or just feel discouraged. No one should ever have to live life alone. Seek objective, friendly advice from people you respect and look up to.

Still feeling lost? Send us a message and we can even plan a video call to help. You don't have to do this alone. :)

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