Well.. It's been 2 years and 3 months since I last had a child I could call a homeschooler. My youngest is now a college Jr. I think a thoughtful retrospective is in order. So, here are 8 things I would do differently if I were to homeschool all over again, and a couple things I would do the same.
1. Consistency is visiting museums, parks, playgrounds, and shows weekly. I think I did this well when they were both in middle school, but the wigglyness of them when they were little and the busyness of them as high school students got in the way. But, It was a great bonding time and I wish I had been more consistent.
2. Food control. Kids do what you do, and I did not mind what I was eating very well, nor what they were eating. The kids and I had too much access to the fridge. I should have planned ahead better and kept fruit on the table instead of a free-for-all.
3. I should have been more strict about deadlines for assignments. There were plenty of times when I let them pat me on the head and promise to do better next time. Once they hit high school, I should have been more strict about deadlines. That would have helped with the transition to college.
4. I shouldn't have discussed homeschooling with relatives and non homeschooling friends. Too many times it just ended up with upset feelings... mine.
5. I should not have discussed homeschooling at parties. I found myself being the entertainment far too often. I should have just answered that question about where they go to school as matter-of-factly as the kids did and then changed the subject.
6. I should have pushed harder when they wanted to quit something. Fencing for instance, they gave up too soon. Not because they weren't good, but because they weren't making friends. That's not a good reason to walk away.
7. We should have taken advantage of duel enrollment programs. My son, now a college Sr. thinks he would have transitioned better into college had he taken some courses at the local college first, or even taken some academic classes at the local high school. Neither of these were easily available to us the year he was a Sr. in High school, but If I was willing to drive a little ways, we could have found a school that would take him. (our county began welcoming students the very next year). I agree with him that his first two years in college would have been less of a struggle with home real life experiences and easing into the college environment. The good news is that he eventually got the hang of things and has been doing great.
8. We should have put more variety in our outside activities. The kids did attend a great program that taught history through the arts, and optional academics (we opted to do academics independently). The only problem is that looking back, there were times when we should have stepped outside of the program for some variety, to try a different theatre program for one show, or do experience a different choir or something because what is best for the group isn't always best for the individual child, and too much loyalty can bite you in the butt. But, in all honesty, I was being lazy and trying to keep all activities localized to avoid too much driving.
Things I would not change.
1. We would have still joined the homeschool arts and history program because it was awesome and my kids did make life-long friends. It is important to have a tribe. To me this was akin to a homeschool co-op. I am even glad that I spent a lot of money for this program.
2. I am so glad that we used free online programs and resources instead of buying boxed curriculum. My kids had access to the world on knowledge on the internet and I was able to use those extra hundreds of dollars a year for experiences and specialty classes.