I realized when my first child was just a baby that it's very helpful to find another mom who had a child about 6 months older than my child so I could glean from her. Someone beyond where I was but not too far from the "trenches" that they forget.
Find someone "real" and see what her child is doing and what she does, etc. As a matter of fact, I STILL do that, but now I will often find a mom with a child about a year or two older than my oldest boy or my oldest girl so I can get a glimpse of what might come...adolescence, shaving, peer issues, college preparation.
Same deal for homeschooling. My mentors are usually people I'm friends with already. I've found that most homeschoolers, especially "veteran" homeschoolers, are glad to give their input when you ask them questions about homeschooling. You aren't bothering them. Really. They may not think they are an expert, they don't need to be. They just need to be "real" and open and honest.
I'll tell you about two of mine.
First, a few years ago a homeschool family with nine children moved into our town. We had some kids the same age, went to the same church, the kids played sports together. You get the idea. I would ask her questions about what she did for school with her kids, especially her older kids. At that point she had two girls in college.
One particular question and answer still sticks with me. I asked what she did for writing for them. She said she didn't do much. When they got to high school she sent them to a community college for a writing class. And they did perfectly fine (my words). As I said, they were both in college- one was on an ROTC scholarship for nursing. I felt a weight being released, knowing that no matter what I teach for writing, it could be possible for me to send the kids to a community college course and they could be okay- wait a minute, even more than "okay!" Yes, her girls did perfectly fine. I play that scenario over and over in my head when I need reassurance.
Second. After meeting her through the wonderful Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and emailing/calling back and forth for about a year as I agonizingly planned my high school courses, I actually met Becky at The 2:1 Conference this spring! I had no idea she would be there. She is a former homeschool mom working as a counselor in the high school department of HSLDA and has three grown children. I always think of her as my consultant although she probably talks to others who contact HSLDA too. Anyway, I think of her as my Becky and I told her that when we met. Now, when I email her it's to "MyBecky".
If you don't have a homeschool mentor, what it one thing you could do to find one? Are you a mentor?