Taking it One Day at a Time: Why you may not need to know what you’ll do tomorrow.

Updated 9/29/2022

Almost all new homeschoolers worry about what they are going to teach their child. Why only yesterday they were deciding to homeschool and today it’s overwhelming since they don’t have their curriculum yet!

Eventually, they’ll figure it out. But for now, they are in panic mode.

It’s going to be ok. Here’s how it can work.

Teaching your child is easier than you may think. The key is to forget what their former classmates are doing in school!

Here’s a step-by-step example of how to create a wonderful non-planned, non-curriculum teaching moment:

You read something very interesting. An example is an article about postal service employees who decipher messy writing and missing information in an effort to deliver mail. It’s a huge challenge and skill that they take pride in.

You didn’t know about it yesterday, so you couldn’t have planned for it.

But today you do know, and it’s personally interesting, which means there’s a good likelihood that your child would be interested too. Enthusiasm is contagious!

An article like this might be read to a child over breakfast. Breakfast time is often more relaxed when you homeschool because there’s no school bus or tardy bell waiting. You have time to spend together. Fun time. Sharing time. (And if breakfast doesn’t work in your family, select another time of day!)

So, for this article that you didn’t know about yesterday (so it couldn’t have been in a lesson plan), you would share it in the same way that you would with another adult – which would mean no quizzes afterward, no lectures, no report to write, no moral to the story.

While the main goal would be to share something interesting with someone you care about, you might also be thinking that it would be possible that the child might learn things like:

  • There are interesting jobs in the world that we don’t know about.
  • There is a reason for learning how to write neatly.
  • There is a reason why one should put a return address on an envelope.
  • People care.
  • Being challenged is fulfilling.
  • Technology is pretty amazing.
  • Some people are better at certain skills than others, and that’s ok!
  • Not every problem can be solved.

This is my personal list and everyone reading this article (adult or child) would come away with their own list (unwritten, of course!).

I would not tell the child that this is why they need to go practice handwriting as soon as breakfast is over (although that would happen in school)!

I would trust that this interesting bit of information might be tucked away in their memory and perhaps be useful to them someday when addressing an envelope, or something else I hadn’t considered.

We don’t have to tell our children what information is important for them to remember. Just trust them to figure things out. It’s the best way to learn!

You may not need lots of curriculum or a one-year plan.

And so goes the day for many homeschoolers who have come to realize that life happens that is interesting and can’t be planned, but with a little awareness, can become an important part of a child’s education.

Some of you who love to plan might take it to the next level and decide that every morning you will read something in the news or online to your child. While it sounds like a good plan, some days something jumps out at you as being really interesting, and worthy of sharing, and some days not. If you plan to read an article every morning, it might become a chore that gets tuned out. Some spontaneity would be lost. So perhaps the plan might be to share something when there’s something of value to share, and not worry if it doesn’t happen every day.

What else can you do today that doesn’t take a 1-year plan (or a lot of money)?

Reading chapter books aloud that are above the reading level of the child is a great activity that will help them so much. It’s fun and promotes closeness, along with increasing vocabulary. You can start immediately as soon as you decide to homeschool. Once you have a few books lined up (here’s a list of what I read to my child), it doesn’t take much planning. More read aloud ideas can be found at CLA’s Pinterest “Read Aloud” board.

You can begin homeschooling without a plan and without curriculum.

Many of your good learning ideas won’t take a lot of planning once you set aside the worry that your homeschool must look exactly like school. If you’re just starting out, try the reading aloud approach to relax your nerves as you start. There’s no rush and your children won’t fall behind. And then once you’re relaxed and seeing results from the reading and discussing, branch out to other subjects if you want. Be sure to include your children because they have great ideas about what they want to learn, and if they have been in school, it’s likely that no one has ever asked them!

In no time at all, you will have had some success and will be on your way to becoming an experienced homeschooler with children who are thriving outside of school!

Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.