As many of us are preparing to start (or have already started) a new school year, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I’ve learned over the last just about 11 years of homeschooling. No matter how old our children get or how long we’ve been homeschooling, these principles remain the same. They may play out differently depending on the ages of your kids, but the ideas are the same.
- Slow & Steady Wins the Race. Your kids don’t have to know everything today or even this year so refrain from turning on the fire hose of information. A corollary to this is don’t worry about keeping up with what public and private schools are doing- it’s a recipe for discontentment at best and disaster at the worst.
- Start Simple and Establish a Routine. A framework is great and allows you to get back on track if you derail (sick, fussy babies are super de-railers), but don’t be a slave to your routine. Your homeschool will begin to lack joy.
- Let Go of Traditional School Conventions. Some of them may be fine and work well for you, but so often I see parents trying to replicate the experience they know and understand well. We all come to the homeschooling table with a similar background in education. It’s ok to let those fall away and find the niche that you and your children will fill.
- Be Consistent. Whatever routine and program of study you choose, do it consistently. While we can leave behind the traditional school model, we still have the responsibility to educate our children.
- Choose your outside activities wisely.
Remember, you don’t have to do everything out there that is available to homeschoolers. In fact, you need to do very little of it. Be sure to weigh the cost of the activity in the commodity of time. Is it worth it?
- Say no whenever possible. You’d be surprised at the discipline it takes to be home to school! Trust me when I tell you that your homeschool will be far richer the more you are home. When you are out too much, you settle into the mentality that when you are home you need to hit the basics. Instead, be home and be consistent so there is plenty of time for exploring together.
- Minimize Distractions. Whether it’s the phone (and by that I mean smart phone!), the other phone, knocks at the door, your email inbox, etc. Keep focused on what’s at hand. Do the same for your students.
- Collaborate. No matter how old your kids are and what grades they are in, choose a time during the day when you’ll come together. It takes work as they get older, but it’s worth the time.
- Make Books a Part of Your Day. Everyday. Whether you are reading to them or they are reading to you or simply reading on their own (including you!), books are always, always time well spent.
- Be a Yes Mom. When your child comes to you with a pill bug and says, “Can we keep it?” Say yes and see what happens! Don’t be afraid to step away from what you had planned to see what comes of the rabbit trail your child would like to investigate. There is a lot of power in those learning experiences if we aren’t afraid to say yes and enjoy the process.
Bonus Tip: Relax! And enjoy the privilege of homeschooling your children. You know what is best for your kids and you have the unique opportunity to meet them where they are and delight in it. Be confident! Have a great year!
More Posts on Routines at Blog, She Wrote
Ten Things that Make a Great Homeschool Day– If any few of these happen on any given day in our homeschool, it’s a fabulous school day.
How to Implement an Independent & Authentic Homeschool Day– How we spend our homeschool days together and a little on how that has changed as our children have gotten older.
Fostering Collaboration with Morning Meeting Time– How we begin our homeschooling day with everyone from 5th to 12th grade present.