In sharing my top 10 tips to getting a new homeschool year rolling today, I hope that you will remember that nobody can replace you as the teacher. And that while some of my tips apply to our kids, a lot of it is shared to encourage you to keep on plugging along because I am here to tell you that in the end it’s WORTH every bit of effort each year!
Make time for the teacher, not just mom.
We get a lot of encouragement to make time for ourselves as mom though we don’t always follow the advice. I am guilty too, but I have always taken time each year to polish up my teacher skills.
It is easier, we think at the time, to turn the teaching reins over to somebody else either through a co-op or on-line class. When in fact if we do that, we may be bringing more stress to our year. Taking time to hone your skills as the teacher will help you to choose more carefully any extra “help” you think you may need. Look at the bottom of this post for books I read that set me on fire when I teach.
Make time to be with other homeschoolers.
No, you don’t have to get fuzzy wuzzy with other homeschoolers if you’re not the joinder type. But your kids may need to be around more people than you may need in your inner circle.
Too, I have learned more about myself and the fact that though, like you, I can be pretty independent, that has nothing to do with needing encouragement. ALL of us, independent or not, eventually need to know that we are not alone and that others are in our unique circumstances.
There is just something about being around other homeschoolers that brings my blood back to a boiling point for homeschooling. Being around other homeschoolers is contagious and keeps you plugging along. Even on days when you don’t feel like leaving the house, try to maintain your park dates, field trips or co-op classes that you have carefully chosen.
Dad is not just a figure head.
Unless you are a single mom (hopefully she has a support system too), you are not raising or educating your children alone. Your husband should play a large role in your homeschooling.
You may wonder how that is possible if you are doing a majority of the teaching. As you know there is more than the academic growth of a child. Your husband provides not only a safe environment in which your children can learn, but his love for your children stimulates intellectual growth.
Too, discipline is very important in homeschooling. And some days after teaching, I was just too pooped to think about discipline. Discipline is more about instruction and my husband had the mental reserve when he got home to keep the instructing going when it was needed. Don’t leave him out and let him know how you feel daily.
In all my years of helping homeschoolers, I have never met a dad supportive of homeschooling that did not want to be plugged in to the every day goings on. You are not doing this alone, so don’t go it alone.
Adopt a routine.
A routine has been one of the mainstays or anchors of my homeschooling year after year. Not assuming you should follow the same homeschool schedule you followed last year will help you to see clearly if you need a different routine this year.
Check out the tips I share in A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler Part 1 Early Years , The Sticking Power of a Homeschool Schedule and How To Create a Homeschool Schedule That You Can Stick To .
Show Up Earlier & Stay Later.
There are just some tips that work equally across the board for all teachers and showing up earlier and staying a bit later than the kids is one of them. There are a variety of things that your kids can start working on that don’t require you (I will share some of them in an upcoming post) but taking a few minutes to look over your lesson planner for each child will help your day to go smoother.
This is especially important if all of your children are very young. Young children have shorter learning spurts and your being well prepared will help to engage them quicker. Choosing to stay a bit later after the kids are playing or having computer time will also help you to think of what needs to be prepared for the next day while the children’s needs are fresh in your mind.
Don’t Shove Your Toddlers & Preschoolers Aside.
I know you would never do that intentionally, but when it comes to school time, include them. It’s hard I know because they seem to be pint size destroyers of your just so schedule. But hear my heart on this and that is if you don’t include them now and make school part of everyday, they may not want to be part of it when it is time to formally learn.
Don’t make the mistake I have seen by veteran and new homeschoolers alike and that is to shove them aside only to want them to be ready to homeschool later.
Taking time to set up your house and school area to suit them, whether it’s by activities you have created ahead of time or an area, then they will naturally want to be included in the formal part of your day as they are older.
Make Time For Middle School Merriment.
Though I hear many homeschoolers who believe that their 6 or 7 year old needs “friends” what they really want are playmates. Unlike your middle school kids who actually need friends, it is important that your middle school kids have time to explore friendships and pursue goals.
At a time when puberty hits, our middle school kids can go through a whole host of emotions. From feeling useless to insecure because of possible hormones highs and lows, it is important that they not become self-absorbed.
Healthy friendships are a way to help push our kids through difficult times and especially friends who are homeschoolers. This will take work on your part because as I always say at this age, our middle school kids are independent dependents. It is easy to overlook this age with all the tug and pull of the little ones. Add in the mix a high school student who demands our time and it becomes almost impossible.
My best tip on how I survived the middle school years was to make a date and stick with it. Something that I could plan for each week or so was much better than spur of the moment planning when my plate was full.
Is Curriculum Worth the Cost?
You paid for new curriculum and want it to work out for the year. You know the one that you told the Mr. you just had to have this year.
Knowing when a curriculum has ran its course (no pun intended) whether it’s in the middle of a year or just a few months into the year, is not an easy thing to try to figure out. Counting the costs sometimes just does not always come at the beginning of the school year no matter how careful we are.
Our children’s needs can change just a few short months into the school year. One year, Mr. Awesome jumped two grade levels in spelling. No matter how hard I worked with him the previous year, he just did not make improvement. It was a developmental thing and keeping him in a lower grade, even just the few short months into the school year, would have held him back. I had to buy upper grade curriculum after only completing a few short lessons.
Curriculum is a constant process to check throughout the year.
Our Home Reflects We Care.
Just a few short weeks into homeschooling when I was a new homeschooler, I was embarrassed by my home. The truth of it was I had underestimated my energy level and time.
Instead of having my kids’ nose buried in worksheets I had assigned, I should have had them buried in folding a load or two of laundry. I had to end up taking off a whole week to get caught up on cleaning my house. Because the care in our home reflects the way we care for each other in our family, it is an important part of homeschooling.
While it’s important to have a comfortable home that we can study at, it is also important that it is a place where we can find peace and rest at the end of the day. Remember that when your children do chores at home it teaches them about responsibility, caring for others and gives them a sense of pride.
Just Push it Aside and Stop.
I wished I could say that each day will be full of fun and exciting things to do, but we both know that is not true. What is not easy to figure out is to know when to just take a break for the day and when to push school aside for a longer bit of time.
It is a lethal combination when everybody in the house is tired and overworked. I have made the mistake of pushing through a day when we were in a slump and needed a break. When you take a break, it actually shows a bit of homeschooling maturity because it means that you now know that homeschooling is a journey and not a one year fix.
Celebrate each year because if you are like me, you are grateful each year that you have been given precious time with your children that will pass by quickly.
What do you do to keep your new homeschool year rolling?
Hugs and love ya,
Homeschooling Books That Set Me on Fire!