So you’ve decided to homeschool? Now your kids are driving you crazy and you’re rethinking your decision. This homeschooling life is not as idyllic as you dreamed it would be. Now what? Here are my top 10 ways to keep sane while homeschooling your children.
1. Start every. single. day. with prayer and quiet time.
You absolutely will not survive for long homeschooling on a spiritually empty tank. Jesus is our daily bread, our manna from heaven. Without a good solid foundation, you will end up cranky, short tempered and downright mean quicker than your coffee gets cold. So do everyone a favor and get up a little earlier mama and take in some scripture and talk to God. Do a daily devotion. There is no other remedy for any parenting struggle you could ever have from spilled maple syrup to the potty training that is better than your bible.
2. Eat a good breakfast with you kids.
Everyone needs fuel for the day ahead. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, pancakes or waffles (unless that makes you happy), most days my kids choose fruit and yogurt or cereal and toast. Make sure you eat too! I’m totally guilty of rushing into our day with only a cup of coffee in my hand. Halfway through spelling I start to get hangry and a little snippy. It happens to the best of us.
3. Pray with your kids over your day….. and attitudes.
If I make sure to lead my children in spiritual matters, our day is easier. It only takes a few minutes to commit our day to the Lord, thank Him for the amazing privilege of schooling my kids at home and ask for the fruit of the Spirit, especially self-control and peace!
4. If a subject is becoming too emotional, move on.
You know what I’m talking about. Your daughter comes to a hard stretch in math and a melt down or battle begins. If after a few minutes, you can’t get past the roadblock, take a break. Have a snuggle, pray. Do another subject. Math will always be there, come back to it a little later and try again. There is no sense in having a melt down right alongside her, believe me, I’ve tried that. If this becomes a pattern, then maybe you need a different strategy. Just take it one day at a time.
5. Pick curriculum you all enjoy.
Nothing makes me or my kids crankier than a dull book to study. I have made the mistake of choosing curriculum I love that my kids hate. I have made the mistake of choosing curriculum they love that I hate. Make it easier on everyone and choose something that everyone enjoys. There are so many different styles of learning, and books. If you take your time you will find the right fit. It took me many, many years. Every child learns differently. Trying to fight their learning style is futile. The very best way that I have found to really get a feel for a curriculum is to page through it. It is so hard to make a good decision based on the description in a catalog or website. Ask a friend if you can page through some of theirs, or my favorite option….. go to a homeschool conference and spend the day in the vendor hall. Publishers gather there and you can look through the books before purchasing. Best of all, you usually get a discount for purchasing during the conference!
6. Don’t skip the fun stuff!
I’ve been there. We’re behind schedule, and trying to catch up. I may even be rushing the kids a little teeny bit. What harm would it do to skip the art project, science experiment or the model of the tabernacle? The kids won’t notice. I tell myself we’ll watch a YouTube video later instead. But every excuse in the book won’t get back those valuable learning experiences that I have skipped. And you know what? I regret them. The joy my kids get out of the fun things is so full. And the way they learn so much more from the experience is so profound. The material sticks. They are excited about what they learn to the extent that they talk about it with Dad at suppertime. They enjoyed the learning process. There is something big to be said about that. So even if it takes more time or makes a mess, do the fun stuff!
7. Have a schedule that works for you.
It’s important to have a schedule. It keeps me accountable for my time. Keeping a homeschooling planner is helpful too. I like this one. But, it is also important to not let my schedule rule me. Because part of the beauty of homeschooling is that you get to set your own schedule! It does not have to look like public school. In fact, it is probably better if it doesn’t. For instance, if you and your children learn better in the afternoons or evenings, school then! If you like to do spelling in the backyard, go for it! It is your school. You make the rules (as long as they meet state mandated criteria of course)! We have found it works best for our family to start our school day right after breakfast. Sometimes we are finished before lunch, sometimes after. We also school for several weeks straight, except for weekends, and then take a week or two off. All year. Summer included. My children don’t lose momentum that way, or skills or knowledge over an extended summer break. In fact, we also take the full month of December off, we’re so busy with baking, making gifts and holiday events, we try to enjoy every minute. Do what works for you.
8. Take school outside sometimes.
Get out of the house occasionally. Actually, literally go outside, to the park or your own yard. Or to the library, museum, wildlife sanctuary, zoo or historical monument. Explore your community and God’s creation together. There is a whole world of learning to discover.
9. Make learning fun.
Break up the monotony of book lessons by learning with games, songs, watching a documentary, or just using colorful math manipulatives. We love these unifex cubes, this pizza fraction game and these pattern blocks. My favorite way to learn geography is with these amazing GeoPuzzle puzzles. If the kids are enjoying learning, you will be too!
10. Discover everyone’s interests.
Take the time to really get to know your kids. Listen to what they are interested in so that you can help them to learn more about those things. When my son discovered dinosaurs, we checked out all the dinosaur books at our local library, built dioramas, watched videos and took numerous trips to the dinosaur museum. Because we did those things he can now pronounce all their names, tell me all about each species and has a real world experience to cement that knowledge into his memory. My daughter expressed an interest in film making. She saved up for a video camera and is now studying tips and tricks to good movie making. She has a desire to learn, to dig deeper and know more. Build on that with each of your children. Instill in them a love of learning that never ends, no matter their age.