Written by my cousin and fabulous homeschool mom, Becky, once again sharing some homeschool tips for us:
Three years ago I began homeschooling my children and often women will ask me how I am able to accomplish this. I tell them that each year I feel more and more confident in my role as a homeschooler and I love what I am doing. Our school does not look like a public school classroom but is structured in such a way that allows for flexibility and lots of fun learning. We use a variety of resources and mentors to help us accomplish the things we desire. We use distance learning, online mentors, training, conferences, books, common wealth schools, and much more. You could call it parent –student directed education instead of homeschooling. I have learned that every homeschool looks different, no two are exactly alike. There are some really important things that I am doing that I know are helping me be successful at homeschooling. Here is a list of ten things that I attribute to that success.
Arrange a set time each day to study from your core book, write in your journal, and pray. Usually this is best done first thing in the morning before anyone is awake. It allows you to have quiet time to ponder and reflect on your many roles in life. This is also the time where I counsel with my Greatest Mentor, God, and discuss the things that are currently on my mind. I pray for His spirit to guide me on this journey. My journal has become a great way to write down questions that I might have and any concerns that I feel for my children. Reading from my core book helps me to see how God loves all His children and blesses and strengthens those who turn to Him which in turn helps me to see His love for us.
Exercise allows me to feel healthy and strong. My mind is more alert and my body feels great after I put in at least 30 minutes of cardio and weights. Of course, I like having a body that is firm and fit but exercise also helps my mind to feel positive and upbeat. I feel that exercise is my natural anti-depressant. Ultimately, I exercise for my mind and my body. I feel like it gives me the energy I need throughout the day.
Create a schedule so you don’t have to wonder what you need to be working on at any given day and time. Each year our schedule changes because we usually try something new or find different mentors. So, in September, once we have the days figured out for our commonwealth school or distance learning I plan what days of the week the children will work on their main workbooks (math, grammar, and spelling) and their assignments from mentors. Then we schedule in our music and dance lessons. I try to make sure that we have at least two days where we are home and have no place we need to go. This is beneficial for us as a family to be free to just lie around and read all day if we want to.
Plan a date night each week. When I first started homeschooling I worried that I would be spending too much time with the children and that my relationship with my husband would be neglected. Plus, I knew that I would need a regular break where I could relax and have fun with my best friend. So, I scheduled in a weekly date night. Some nights we just go grocery shopping or for a short drive but we make sure that we do something.
Find a homeschool support group or network. This has been the single most important practice because it has helped me not want to give up homeschooling. I can imagine that I would have thrown in the towel long ago had I not had a network of other mothers and families to rub shoulders with. Their examples and resources have opened so many doors for my family and remind me of the reasons I have chosen to homeschool. Since homeschoolers represent such a small percentage of families it is good to connect with others of similar goals so you don’t feel so alone.
Enjoy Sundays as a day of rest. Sundays have become more meaningful to me since I started homeschooling. We relax and spend time together making sure not to work or do any chores. This allows us to take the time to eat and play together, attend church, read and relax, and enjoy a day off from normal responsibilities. I believe that the Lord knew what He was doing when He made the 7th day a day of rest.
Clean the house once a week. Before I started homeschooling my house was usually a lot cleaner. Now we are working on projects so there are typically crayons and papers all over. Where once there were clean tables now there are books and binders stacked all over. I have to let myself be fine with this kind of mess knowing that on Saturdays we do our chores. There may be stuff everywhere during the week but at least I know that it is clean underneath. Each night before bed we do a quick clean up so that we don’t start the next day with yesterday’s mess. It is not perfect but it is a work in progress. We are living and growing in this house. Remember our homes are not museums but a place where we live.
Read! Read! Read! I love when we set the time aside to read together. I have found that it is one of the best things that we can do for our children’s success. There is nothing better that gathering in the family room while I read to the children. They beg for these moments and ask for just one more chapter….please! Here is a link to a great book list http://www.tjed.org/resources/classics/
Inspire your children by pursuing your own education. Like a mother duck leads her ducklings, I knew when we started this journey that I would need to continue my education alongside my children. I do my best to work on my homework each day with the goal to accomplish at least two hours of personal study a day. I feel that my example will inspire my children as they see me work and do hard things with them. Children need to see good study habits put into practice so they know how to mimic those actions. Also, I have attended training each year so that I can help teach in our commonwealth school. Doing this has helped me to gain a greater vision of what we are trying to accomplish here at home. Here is a link to the Leadership Education Mentor Institute http://www.lemimentortraining.com/
Be Flexible. There are days that just chew you up and spit you out but that is okay. This is where I try to remind myself that I can be flexible. Sometimes all we need is to go to bed and try again tomorrow. I try to gauge the feelings of myself and my children so that I can get a feel for what we need. When someone is stressed about math I make sure they know they can take a break and come back to it later when they calm down. Children get sick, even mom gets sick, and we may need to take a few days off. Remembering to be flexible helps me not to get so stressed or upset when things don’t work out the way that I have planned. Tomorrow will be a new day.
I hope this list is helpful and can give the encouragement to keep going or to start on the journey, if that is something you desire. Figuring out what your homeschool needs to look like is a personal journey which is what makes it so fun and exciting. Individualizing education for our children is what is missing in public school. Comparing children to each other isn’t helpful and generally causes frustration. Usually when I am stressed I find that I have been comparing myself and my children to others around us. Learning should be fun and who better to show this to children then their mother? Mothers are designed to be teachers to their children and to lead their families in the ways of truth. I have discovered the purpose of my creation as I have taught my children at home which is a beautiful thing.