Are you wondering why I'm writing this?

Because I had NO IDEA where to start, and it took WAY TOO LONG for me to figure this stuff out (I know, it has nothing to do with cute photos, but maybe it'll help a fellow confused mom out).

Let me explain: I have two kids (it seems like more sometimes). They had gone to a traditional model private school since Kindergarten, but it was time for a change. My son, who was 11 at the time, couldn't sit still to save his life and my daughter, age 14, was really unhappy at her school. I think most of us say this, but I never saw myself as being a homeschool mom. Seeing the state of both my kids, and having the ability to do something about it, my husband and I made the decision to pull them out.

There's stages to homeschool momming, I think:

I panicked at first thinking what a big responsibility this is, then excited when I'm picking out the curriculum thinking about what a great time we'll have and what a great teacher I'll be, then The First Day of Homeschooling comes and nothing goes as planned and you get in an argument with your son about pencils (real life). Just when you think you know what you're doing, you've found a great groove and schedule, winter comes and no one leaves the house because it's too cold outside and there's no winter sports in Idaho and everyone is complaining and fighting and you find yourself looking up "decent boarding schools on the East Coast". Fun times.

When I first set off, knowing nearly nothing about homeschooling in the Treasure Valley, we lived in Boise. Then moved to Nampa, then Meridian. And no matter which city we lived, it was difficult for me to find info about homeschooling groups, co-ops for older kids, or even just mom groups to join. Probably because I wasn't looking in the right spots. Also this was before the pandemic, when at-home learning was definitely not as common, when there was no such thing as learning pods, micro-schools, or pandemic pods.

Now, there is an absolute explosion of resources, groups, and co-ops in the area. So, wherever you live in the Treasure Valley, there's lots of resources for you! Here are some of the best spots to find whatever you're looking for.

a photo take from above, a student works on his schoolwork papers with a pencil in the light of a lamp
a fern houseplant in focus, a sink and dishes blurry in the background

The first step-

Confused about homeschooling regulations in Idaho? Not really sure where to begin? Homeschool Idaho is a great place to start. There's everything from blog posts about fun things to do in the summer to an easy to understand page about Idaho Homeschool Law.

a teenage girl organized beads during a homeschool art craft

Next step- join stuff

Get on Facebook. Do it now. There are a crap ton of local groups, but start with Treasure Valley Homeschool Mom and Dads. Then look for 'your city/neighborhood + homeschool'. Or join groups like Meridian Moms. There are in-person homeschooling groups by city/neighborhood, and other families in your same situation to help you hive mind your way through curriculum choices, the best parks to play at, and answers for questions about how the heck you make a report card yourself. This is also a great way to find classes other kids attend, music lessons they love, and sporting clubs they go to.

Join a co-op or an in-person group. There are super cool co-ops and supplemental classes. Like EverWild Forest School - an outdoor classroom focused on nature, with classes for kids as young as 4, or Arrow Homeschool Co-op in Nampa - they have band and choir classes. Coyote Willow Ranch has cooking classes, drawing, and finger knitting classes.

Get your kids active. Like out of the house sometimes. Go to a trampoline park, sign them up for soccer, ballet, or piano lessons. I took my very active son to Jump Time one morning every single week to bounce his heart out while I corrected papers and tried to sneak in coffee (doesn't work they catch you every time). Encore Creative Center in Eagle has theater classes, art classes, and a lot more. My daughter took private piano lessons from the director of the center, and she is fan-tastic.

Make mom friends

You gotta do this. Homeschooling can be very isolating in ways you don't expect. I mean, it already seems kinda isolating but then you do it and you realize that it's even worse than you thought. I mean, maybe the joining stuff is more for you than your student. It's great the kids can get together and play and have a great day at the park or at an outing, or learning about leaves and trees, but getting out of the house is literally life changing. Talking/crying to another mom about Saxon Math or high school biology is very cathartic.

And no matter how much the term "self-care" bugs me, you have to take care of yourself. I'm not talking about solo vacations every couple weeks (although hey do it if you want) or eating entire ice cream cakes while crying in the pantry (ahem). I mean do something that makes you feel fulfilled. Write in a journal, take long walks by yourself and listen to the birds, read interesting books, work out!, take pictures of trees (see below) - just pick things you love to do and don't stop doing them. Yes, I know you're super busy and the house is crazy messy and the kids need something. But this is actually really important.

trees and branches shot from below looking up at the sky in fall at boise foothills

Duh, Jen

Most of these super secret tips are just common sense. Really I don't think I'm giving away state secrets here. And they apply to wherever you're homeschooling, not just the Treasure Valley.

Raising your children well is important. Educating them well is important. Finding like minded people in the same boat as you is important, taking care of yourself is important. It's a lot. This is all meaningful, deep work. There are some really really hard days. But you can do it.