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Homeschooling the Very Young

Sometimes homeschooling begins wonderfully, but other times it can seem an overwhelming challenge.  What can you do if you don't WANT to homeschool but you feel guilty about it?
I tried homeschooling my 4 & 5 year olds. My daughter is a strong-willed little girl who stands up against authority figures. I don't feel called to home school this year mostly because last year went so badly and in the middle of the year I just stopped doing school by the book and focused more on my health goals. I registered them both for school. They will spend 45 mins each way on the bus. That means my boy in 1/2 day Kindergarten will be in school about the same amount of time on the bus. I can't help but feel a little guilt about not wanting to do it. I did a co-op for 4 months and hated it. I also have now a 2 year old who wants all of my attention which was very challenging when trying to teach as well. Any words of wisdom? I actually think others can teach my children the basics better than I can. I bring God into every aspect of our lives - but I don't feel cut out to homeschool my kids. Thanks for any thoughts.
~ Feeling Guilty


You don't have to do ANY formal education until 8 years old, when you are living in Washington. You can keep them at home and not even fill out a declaration of intent until they are 8.  Once they have been enrolled in school, then you do need to complete a declaration of intent, but that doesn't mean you have to get all intense and "schoolish."  For more information on Washington State Homeschool Law, please visit this website: Washington Homeschool Organization.

You might want to read the book for encouragement, "Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education" on www.amazon.com.

You can try schooling gently and naturally, using literature. Instead of "doing school" you can just experience education. I love Sonlight Curriculum. Use their curriculum for 5 year olds, and it will only take about 1 hour per day, and you can share it between both kids. Perhaps you can do that during the nap time. Here is the link to Sonlight.

To handle babies and toddlers underfoot, my favorite tip is the book "Managers of Their Homes" by Teri Maxwell.  It made a HUGE difference in my life and homeschool.  In fact, that book is the reason why I have been (mostly) consistent with my quiet time, because she really focuses on putting God first and everything else will fall into place.  She is not as academic as I am, but I found that to be a nice balance, because I tend to do too much at times.  Here is the link to her book.

Guilt is a horrible feeling.  It's difficult to decide what to do, and many people will have strong opinions in opposite directions.  The best advice is what my midwife told me the day my oldest child was born.  She said, "Know your child and trust yourself."  Only YOU know your child and your situation.  Move forward without guilt, trusting your own judgment.

If homeschooling went that bad, then probably it was a curriculum mismatch, and you were using a curriculum that was great for someone else, but wasn't a good fit for you.  My guess is that you were making it more intensely academic than is necessary or desirable at that young age.   If you want to try homeschooling again, then completely change gears, and back away from the heavy academics to focus on the love of learning.

I hope that helps,



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Comments 5

Guest - Sharon (website) on Friday, 04 March 2011 18:27

I'd have to agree with the other comments. If you take a look at some preschool and kindergarten books they are teaching things like over and under, above below.... first, second, third. All of these things can be learned by just playing and living with your little ones.

I'd have to agree with the other comments. If you take a look at some preschool and kindergarten books they are teaching things like over and under, above below.... first, second, third. All of these things can be learned by just playing and living with your little ones.
Guest - Carletta (website) on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 04:53

Lee, this is such good advice. People are always shocked when I say that I only spend around 15-30 minutes teaching my preschooler, and around 45 minutes teaching kindergarten. This has been more than enough to teach my children everything they need to know at those ages. And because we aren't doing too much, they look forward to doing more in later years.

Lee, this is such good advice. People are always shocked when I say that I only spend around 15-30 minutes teaching my preschooler, and around 45 minutes teaching kindergarten. This has been more than enough to teach my children everything they need to know at those ages. And because we aren't doing too much, they look forward to doing more in later years.
Guest - Sally Hess on Sunday, 29 August 2010 11:05

Lee, this is really good advice. Yes, those very young years are so preciously simple. I had a friend tell me that kindergartners only need to count to 10 (maybe 20 now!), sing the alphabet, and know their colors. Anything else is just extra. That helped me so much. There is so much time for all the heavy academics...don't let the curriculum makers fool you. Little ones learn through you reading to them, playing, exploring, imitating and being with a loving parent.

Lee, this is really good advice. Yes, those very young years are so preciously simple. I had a friend tell me that kindergartners only need to count to 10 (maybe 20 now!), sing the alphabet, and know their colors. Anything else is just extra. That helped me so much. There is so much time for all the heavy academics...don't let the curriculum makers fool you. Little ones learn through you reading to them, playing, exploring, imitating and being with a loving parent.
Guest - karen on Saturday, 28 August 2010 11:17

Sometime I feel so overwhelmed but then I take some time to think about what drew me to homeschooling in the first place. Each day I relax just a little more. This is only our second year but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Just remember to have fun and breathe.

Sometime I feel so overwhelmed but then I take some time to think about what drew me to homeschooling in the first place. Each day I relax just a little more. This is only our second year but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Just remember to have fun and breathe. :)
Guest - Lois on Saturday, 28 August 2010 09:18

I think Lee is right. Feeling guilty, I think you are expecting to do way too much with your little ones in the way of learning. Let them just be home with you living life! Bake cookies, go for a walk and pick up fall leaves, play in the snow, play a board game, build a tower, look up bugs in a book. It's all so natural to a kid that age. And read to them. I liked Five In a Row, because you read a book to them 5 days in a row, and after each day's reading you do a small project associated with that book. It's extremely user friendly and created some awesome memories for us.

I think Lee is right. Feeling guilty, I think you are expecting to do way too much with your little ones in the way of learning. Let them just be home with you living life! Bake cookies, go for a walk and pick up fall leaves, play in the snow, play a board game, build a tower, look up bugs in a book. It's all so natural to a kid that age. And read to them. I liked Five In a Row, because you read a book to them 5 days in a row, and after each day's reading you do a small project associated with that book. It's extremely user friendly and created some awesome memories for us.
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