How to Motivate Your Teen to Learn Art

How to Motivate Your Teen to Learn Art

I received free access to an art course and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Whether you want art to be a part of your teen’s homeschooling or you want art to be a part of your child’s free time, you may need to motivate your child to pursue artistic studies. Or if you’re like me, you have to motivate yourself to include art in your teen’s studies. There are three ways that have worked for me to motivate my teens to learn art.

How to Motivate Teens to Learn ARt

#1 Enroll your teen in a short-term class

My kids have enjoyed creating a project as part of one class or even a week-long camp. They have all been reluctant to participate in a full semester or one-year course — even those who enjoy art. Perhaps this is because art becomes a must-do, instead of a want-to-do activity. They also have a lot of other coursework and commitments. I can’t say that I’m any different when it comes to learning something new. I much prefer a smaller commitment.

I have taught art class to my teens after learning from a book. My kids have been much more motivated to learn from an artist. Although I can teach art, I’m not the best teacher for that subject. My students have been motivated to please the art teacher by following instruction. As a result they’ve learned more.

#2 Make art social

I purchased a book-based art curriculum for my son, who is talented in art. I thought he would love it. Instead, I couldn’t pay him to do it. When I had all of my kids do art together, he loved it. Part of the fun of art lessons is seeing what other people create. It’s inspiring. I’ve learned this in scrapbooking and Bible journaling classes.

If you aren’t homeschooling other kids, your child would likely enjoy having you do the lessons with him. You may surprise yourself and enjoy it too.

#3 Give your child choices

I hated piano lessons as a kid because I had to play the boring songs that were preselected. Art is very similar. If the lessons ask your child to create art that doesn’t appeal to her, your teen won’t be motivated. Provide many options from drawing to painting to mixed media. As our kids get older, choices become ever more important for motivation.

How Sparketh Online Art Courses Can Motivate Your Teen to Learn Art

Sparketh Online Art Courses

Sparketh is an online art course platform that provides beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses. The courses motivate my teen to learn art because they are short courses. The first course she chose is just 15 minutes of videos.

Sparketh hair bun course

I love that the courses are taught by younger instructors. They serve as great role models for my daughter, where I can’t as much. However, the online platform allows me to participate too. We can choose a course, assemble the supplies according to the recommended setup, and have a fun finished project in no time.

The number of choices is amazing. My daughter loves doing her hair, so this hair-bun course was perfect for her. I am amazed by her nearly-finished drawing. It looks just like the example!

hair bun drawing

You can join Sparketh free for a month. That’s a great way to see if these online courses will motivate your teen to learn art like they did for my daughter.

 

 

 

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Routines: Homeschooling, The First Year

Routines: Homeschooling, The First Year

I am so excited about this week’s episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show. I have been wanting to interview new homeschoolers for a long time and have my listeners take the journey with them. It’s finally happening! I will get to introduce you to the five women who are going to be joining me each month and sharing the homework assignments I give them.

For their first homework assignment, I knew I had to talk about routines. Here’s why they’re so critical for beginning homeschoolers.

The need for routines in the first year of homeschooling

The Need for Routines in the First Year of Homeschooling

The lack of routine in my life nearly put an end to my homeschool and any possibility of having future children. It caused a lot of stress in my marriage, too.

The freedom of homeschooling really appealed to me. I would be free to choose curriculum, free to emphasize the subjects that mattered to my family, and free to go through the day according to my own rhythm. It was that latter freedom that ended up enslaving me. Being able to rest when I was sick was wonderful and so was being able to adjust my schedule to have my mother-in-law (who suffered from dementia) over for the day. What wasn’t wonderful was having no time to homeschool, yet feeling like I hadn’t accomplished anything else. It wasn’t wonderful having piles of undone laundry and no idea what to make for dinner when the clock read 5 p.m.

When I found FLYLady online and created routines, I discovered real freedom. I no longer had to decide when to do dishes or laundry. I knew when we would do school. I even knew what we were having for dinner. The kids loved having a routine and my husband was ecstatic. Routines gave me peace of mind and the confidence that I could not only homeschool but add more students.

The Importance of Chores in the First Year of Homeschooling

Homeschooled children are home most days and that means more mess. Art projects, dramatizations, and science experiments require extra clean-up, too. If we don’t develop an approach to making sure our kids contribute to the clean-up and needs of the home, the likelihood of burnout is high. The bonus of creating chore routines is that our kids develop important life skills and a sense of responsibility. Spouses who prefer an orderly home will appreciate it, too.

If you’re just beginning this journey, allow me to save you a lot of time pursuing the perfect chore system: there isn’t one. I’ve tried dozens of them and the simplest system is the best. You don’t even have to have a system, but you must have a routine. I often get the most housework done with my kids when we work together, room to room.

Establish a routine for doing the daily tasks and then create a routine for weekly chores. What works best for my family is rotating the daily tasks and assigning the weekly chores on a yearly basis. We have always completed our daily chores before starting school. That’s for my benefit. If the house is a mess, I can’t focus on our school work. Homeschooling also becomes a reward for getting chores done.

You can find one editable chore checklist here and a new Chore Game printable below for subscribers. (Click the form below to gain access.) But any chore system will do.
Claim the Chore Game for Subscribers

The Importance of Teaching Children to Do Laundry in the First Year of Homeschooling

I used to do all the laundry in our home. At first, that wasn’t much. But with just three children who were ages three and under, I felt like I was drowning in it. Of course, the most time-consuming part of laundry is putting it away.

As soon as possible, consider teaching your child to use the washer and dryer. I chose not to have my kids separate lights and darks and only rarely had a problem as a result. I would pour the laundry detergent into the cap for my littles and they loved pouring it into the machine.

I also underestimated the importance of teaching my kids how to fold. Before I did, their clothing was jammed into drawers. I bought expensive folding boards, but teaching them to fold on their own was more effective. When I learned the Konmari folding approach, I taught it to them and have loved the results.

Finally, do what you can to help your children hang clothing. A lower closet bar may help and accessible hangers are a must.

A critical part of both your chore and laundry routines for kids is supervision. My fantasies of having my children do what I’ve trained them to do without me checking on them have not been realized. The younger your kids, the more likely you will have to work with them. Rather than being irritated by this as I have often been, see it as a time to connect with your children. Have fun, chat, and encourage.

The Importance of Meal Planning in the First Year of Homeschooling

My mother ran a large daycare in our home when I was little. With so many mouths to feed and so much childcare to provide, she always had to have a meal in mind. If you are a beginning homeschooler, you may not have 14 kids to feed, but you may have another meal to plan and provide than you did before (i.e. lunch). You aren’t running a daycare, but you are teaching at least one child and possibly providing childcare for others. You may be signed up for classes and activities. Without a plan for meals, you will probably be very crabby at the end of the day. You may have to run to the store or spend extra money on takeout. The delay can make the rest of your family crabby, too.

The mistake we make in meal planning is to use new recipes. A meal plan should be made with meals your family already loves. The book Do Less recommends serving the same six meals every week. That seems extreme, but even if you have that one-week meal plan established and you’ve shopped for it, you’ll be ready to make something — even if it’s not as varied as you like.

In my free meal planning ebook for subscribers, I share ideas for making your base meal plan healthier and adding new recipes to the plan. I also talk about the benefits of buying a month’s worth of groceries at once. I wrote about this concept when five of my kids weren’t teens to adults. A week’s worth of shopping is a major undertaking for me now, but it’s so much better than having no plan in place.
Claim Your Meal Planning Ebook

First Year Homeschoolers Homework for Routines

If you’d like to follow along with our new homeschoolers, here is your homework assignment:

I’m looking forward to checking in with our new homeschoolers (and you too) in August.

 

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How to Maintain Math Skills in the Summer

How to Maintain Math Skills in the Summer

Reading skills can deteriorate quickly in the summer without attention and so can math skills. While summer is the time when many homeschooling families take a break, making time to maintain the math skills students have gained during the school year is crucial. Here are three easy ways to do it.

How to maintain math skills in the summer

I received access to a math program and was compensated for my time in reviewing it. All opinions are my own.

#1 Focus on living math

You may not want to get the workbooks out in the summer, but you can easily incorporate math into your everyday life. Have your child calculate how many cans of water will be needed to make lemonade. Double a recipe. Measure a sports court for badminton. Determine the diameter of a beach ball by measuring its circumference with a tape measure. Have your child keep a running total as you grocery shop or determine the best deals based on size of products. Make a graph of the most common plants, bugs, or creatures seen on a nature walk. Determine the volume of a jar of sand or work math problems in the sand with a stick. Calculate gas mileage from a road trip. The possibilities are endless!

Be sure to review math facts as you travel. Listen to math fact songs or skip count together as you do chores. (Unfortunately, summer doesn’t mean a break from chores!)

#2 Play math games

Play games to maintain your child’s memory of math facts. Children who struggle with higher-level math usually haven’t mastered their math facts. CTC Math includes a speed skills game and a times tables video game interface that are perfect for maintaining math fact memory.

CTC Math GAmes CTC Math Games

 

On rainy days, break out the math board games. On sunny days, do some active math games outside.  Do math hopscotch. Or have a broad jumping contest. Have the kids calculate their percentage improvement for successive jumps. Maintaining math skills doesn’t have to be boring!

#3 Use a new curriculum to keep skills sharp

Kids usually have no interest in using the same math curriculum in the summer that they’ve used all school year. And who can blame them? Summer is a great time to change things up. The benefits of trying a new approach are:

  • filling in gaps in your child’s math education
  • help explaining concepts that weren’t mastered
  • more motivated students

If you’ve been using a computer-based curriculum, consider using a workbook or print worksheets as needed. If your child enjoys online math, look for a different program for summer.

If you’ve been using printed curriculum, consider using a video or computer-based approach.

Why I’m Using CTC Math to Maintain My Kids’ Math Skills This Summer

CTC Math is a computer-based math curriculum, which is new for my younger students. They use workbooks during the school year. Because it’s online, there are videos that explain math concepts in depth.

CTC Math review

I love that I can select just the topics my kids need to review. Each video and set of questions take just minutes to complete, meaning that I can keep summer lessons short. My kids aren’t bored reviewing concepts they have already mastered.

I tend to lose track of my kids’ activities in the summer, so I love that I can view exactly what my kids have completed (or not).

CTC Math report

Finally, during the summer I don’t have time to do a lot of lesson planning. CTC Math makes it easy for me to assign lessons to keep my kids’ math skills strong. Giving the kids lessons requires just a few mouse clicks!

Of course, CTC Math isn’t just a curriculum for summer. Its benefits make this complete curriculum the perfect choice for the school year, too.

What are you waiting for? Do some living math, play a math game, and consider an alternate curriculum for the summer. CTC Math is an excellent choice.
CTC Math

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How to Get Organized When Things Are in Chaos

How to Get Organized When Things Are in Chaos

Is your life so chaotic right now that you can’t even begin to get organized? If that’s your situation, you’ll appreciate these six steps you can take today to break through the chaos and get organized.

How to get organized when things are in chaos

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#1 Stop and pray

Too often when our lives are chaotic, we are in the midst of spiritual warfare and we don’t even know it. If it seems like everything is going wrong, we ought to consider the possibility that we are engaged in battle with the enemy. The day the post on marriage was published, my husband and I had a big disagreement (a.k.a. fight) that made no sense to me. A friend of mine pointed out that this was likely spiritual warfare. Of course it was! My husband and I were trying to strengthen marriages — something the enemy opposes.

When we are doing God’s work (and homeschooling is God’s work), we may find ourselves oppressed and challenged at every turn. The most powerful thing to do when we are in the midst of spiritual warfare is not to pick up another organizing book or to find another cleaning list on Pinterest. Instead, it is to stop what we are doing and pray for God’s strength, for His protection, and for His wisdom. This is step number one.

#2 Do what you absolutely, positively have to do today

When we are in chaos, we imagine that we have 100 things that have to be done today, and of course there isn’t enough time to do them. The truth is we have very few things that absolutely have to be done today. First let’s define what “absolutely has to be done today” means. It means that you would be willing to stay up very late to finish this task. You couldn’t stand to go to bed without it being finished.

Homeschool Mom To-Do List

I have created a list to help you find these tasks. Use this form for subscribers or a notebook to record your tasks. In order to find those things that are critical for today, we need to first check our calendar. What do you have coming up later today or tomorrow that requires any work on your part? Write it down. Next go through your inbox or wherever you keep physical mail. Make a list of any of the items you find that require action. Next look in your purse. Look for anything that requires your action and add it to your list. Next look at your phone text messages and listen to unanswered phone messages. Write down any tasks that have to be done. You are going to want to check your email inbox for things that absolutely positively have to be done today. Make a list of these. Finally, check social media. Did someone message you, tag you, or invite you to an event that requires your action today? Make a list of these things.

On the form I’ve created for you, you can add these tasks to a list based on where you found them. Then write only those tasks that have to be done today on the Tuesday list (or whatever today is). If you used note paper to make your list, star the items that must be done today and rewrite them on a separate list. This should be a short list. Remember that it should not include “like to get done” tasks, but “have to get done” tasks.

Now that you have your list, get to work on them. Do them in any order you please. Do the easiest first or the worst first. You can even roll a die to choose the task to do first. Whatever you do, get them completed as quickly as you can. You will feel so much better when they’re done.

The Organized Homeschool Life

#3 Plan dinner

After you have prayed and have tackled your critical task for today, you can breathe a sigh of relief. However, if you really want to break through the chaos to get organized, it’s important that you also have a plan for dinner. Even if your plan is to order pizza or to go out to eat, your plan will give you tremendous peace of mind. There will be no last minute scramble to determine what you’re going to eat with your family. If you will be eating at home, make sure any necessary preparations like thawing is done.

#4 Do the dishes and clear the table

I once visited elderly people’s homes as part of a research study I was doing. The tell-tale sign of an older person who was living in chaos was dirty dishes stacked in the sink and on the counters. Dirty dishes are a distraction and a discouragement to us. Getting them clean, whether that is loading them into the dishwasher or washing them by hand, will go a long way to helping you feel organized. Doing the dishes does not have to be something you do alone. Get your family involved to help you get them done.

In order to have that peace of mind that comes from being organized, you also need to clear your primary table. If there are dirty dishes on the table you will want to wash those. But if you have leftover school books or experiments or newspapers or just clutter on the table, you need to remove it. Don’t even worry about getting everything put away. Just get the stuff off your table. Your table is like your brain. The more clutter there is on the table, the more chaotic you are going to feel. This is also critical for your family’s peace of mind. Now you can enjoy dinner at the table if you’re cooking or having takeout.

#5 Declutter for 15 minutes

Set a timer for 15 minutes to clean or de-clutter an additional area of your home that is robbing you of peace. You definitely want to get your family involved in this. Don’t spend a lot of time deciding which area to focus on. If the kitchen counters need attention and that’s what you were looking out at the moment, choose to start there. If the family room or bedroom or school room are robbing you of peace, go to work there. If an area of your home is cluttered, declutter it before focusing on deep cleaning chores. Always work on visible clutter before tackling hidden clutter. Get clothing off the bed and floors before decluttering drawers or a closet, for example.

To begin getting organized when things are in chaos, you don’t want to make difficult decisions about what to keep and what to give away. If something is obviously trash, throw it away. You may want to have a trash bag with you as you work. If something does not belong in that room of your home, put it in a box or laundry basket to be moved later. Do not waste time walking from room to room to put things away. Stay in the room you are working on the entire time — and that includes your children. If you find something to give away and you are emotionally prepared to give things away, you can also use a box or bag for giveaway items. But this is a very quick organizing sprint. Do not concern yourself with where you’re going to put things, where you will donate items, and certainly not with selling things. Stay focused. I recommend listening to upbeat music while you work.

#6 Take time for self-care

Set a timer for 15 minutes of self-care. One reason our lives get to feeling out of control is because we try to mix self-care time with work and family time. This doesn’t work. This is a common form of multitasking which leads to discouragement. If we are on Facebook while our kids are asking us to help them with their math, we won’t feel like we’ve had a break and our child will be frustrated by not having our full attention. We need set boundaries for our time. If you haven’t heard the podcast on self-care I did with Andy and Kendra Fletcher of Homeschooling in Real Life, you will want to listen to that episode. We need time for ourselves to be refreshed. It’s the most loving thing we can do for our families.

Some of the things that I do during my self-care times are reading the Bible, journaling, reading other books, exercising, spending time on hobbies like scrapbooking, or socializing through a variety of online sites and apps. Of course, it’s very important to set a timer for our personal time, just as it’s important to set it for work. Personal time without boundaries creates guilt which works against the refreshment we are trying to achieve. Teach your children to take personal time at the same time you do. You could encourage your child to nap, play with Legos, listen to an audiobook, play an educational game, or watch a favorite television show while you are having your time. If your child trusts you to abide by the time boundaries, you are more likely to get his cooperation.

What next?

When your self-care time is up, you can choose to do another 15-minute organizing sprint or work on tasks that don’t absolutely have to do be done today. Follow your 15-minute work period with another 15 minutes of self-care. That may sound crazy to you. The Pomodoro technique that many of us are familiar with recommends working for 25 minutes and then taking a five minute break. The reason I am being so liberal on the self-care time is because if your life is in chaos, you need extra rest. You’re likely overwhelmed and burned out. Short work periods followed by liberal periods of rest are healing. Once you’ve regained your equilibrium, the work-to-rest ratio can be increased. 

When things calm down, I highly recommend my book, The Organized Homeschool Life. You’ll get 15-minute missions to complete four days a week that are designed just for homeschoolers.

These six tips are survival strategies for today. The Bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow but to focus on today. If you simply repeated these six steps tomorrow, you would be well on your way to getting organized, regardless of how chaotic things feel right now. You can do this! I’m cheering you on.

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17 Time Management Tips for Homeschool Entrepreneurs

17 Time Management Tips for Homeschool Entrepreneurs

Effective time management is critical for entrepreneurs. You may not consider yourself to be an entrepreneur, but I think all homeschoolers are exactly that.

You’re running a private school and your time is precious. Successful homeschooling relies on excellent time management.

But therein lies the problem. How can we make the best use of our time in our busy homeschooling lives?

First, RELAX.

We need to adopt the strategies that other successful entrepreneurs and homeschoolers use.

Keep in mind:

We need a method for the madness that is homeschooling.

If you approach things strategically from the very beginning, you will find a rhythm that works for your family.

Be realistic and flexible about your homeschooling because it’s one of the greatest benefits of the lifestyle.

Tracking how much time you spend on various activities can be eye-opening as well as serve as a baseline for marking improvement.

Know that:

Not all tasks require your time. As your children get older, they can share more and more of your responsibilities.

If you have a business in addition to homeschooling, you can save valuable time by delegating to skilled virtual assistants. You can focus on those responsiblities that only you can do while a virtual assistant manages routine tasks.

Want more ideas on time-saving tips and tricks?

Here’s the DEAL:

MyTasker, a professional VA company, has developed this 17 Time Management Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs infographic.

I completed a year-long series of time management experiments and proved to myself that these tips really work.

The MyTasker blog explains each of these tips in detail. Scheduling and focus are important to me as a homeschooler with a business, but being positive is crucial. If we feel like our family or others are wasting “our time,” we’ll be unhappy in our homeschooling and may even want to give up.
I consider a serious focus on time management has been a vital part of my homeschool success and happiness.

Which of these tips do you need to focus on first?

Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

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How to Homeschool Without Help: Tips for Single and Married Moms

How to Homeschool Without Help: Tips for Single and Married Moms

Last week my husband and I shared about how to keep a homeschooling marriage strong. I think that’s such an important topic. But a few months ago, a listener pointed out that it’s hard for her to hear homeschooling advice designed for moms whose husbands are supportive of homeschooling when hers isn’t. That got me interested in talking to single homeschooling moms and married homeschooling moms whose husbands aren’t supportive. I want those of you who are homeschooling without help to have sanity, too!

 

How to Homeschool Without Help

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I interviewed Jessica Binkley (of Let’s Break the Rules and DearPennyJane.com), a newly single homeschooling mom, and LaToya Edwards, a mother who was single when she began homeschooling, for The Homeschool Sanity Show podcast. These two ladies helped me to realize that homeschooling is an excellent choice for children whether their parents are single or married.

For Jessica, putting her children in school after her divorce didn’t make sense. LaToya met a single, homeschooling mom before making her decision to teach her kids at home, so she knew it could be done. Both women opened my eyes to the need for married, homeschooling moms like me to be more supportive. Unfortunately, other married homeschoolers were some of the loudest voices telling Jessica she couldn’t keep homeschooling. Jessica and LaToya had these tips for single, homeschooling moms:

#1 Keep a flexible, relaxed schedule.

You may have to teach at unconventional times because of your work schedule or to accommodate your children’s father’s schedule. The blessing of homeschooling is being able to find a routine that fits your family. LaToya advises giving yourself time to find that.

#2 Make time for you.

Having time for self-care and refreshment can be very challenging. Jessica has made Sundays a completely free day on which she will not schedule anything. She still has her children with her, but it’s a time when she can relax. Consider trading childcare with another homeschooling mom so you can have a few hours alone.

#3 Let go.

Jessica emphasized the importance of crying when you feel like it. She said things got better for her when she stopped expecting friends to help her. She determined to stop being hard on herself.

LaToya noted that homeschooling improved for her when she stopped trying to make her school look like a traditional school or even a strict homeschool philosophy. She feels comfortable blending approaches that work for her family now.

#4 Get support.

LaToya pointed out that when she attends homeschool activities, the other mothers don’t know she’s a single mom. That allows her to feel comfortable in groups. Jessica has found support through Facebook groups for homeschoolers that aren’t necessarily for single moms. Single homeschooling is becoming more common and you will feel great in giving other women support as well as receiving it.

I hope you’ll listen to the podcast for even more tips from my guests.

Married and Homeschooling Without Help

I also asked married homeschoolers whose husbands don’t help with homeschooling to answer some questions. I think their reponses will be enlightening if you’re in the same situation.

Describe your husband’s involvement in homeschooling and parenting.

My husband is often at work for most of the day. I am usually the disciplinary figure. I involved my husband in the Principal role so when I had times where my son did not want to fully attend or focus I would intervene with Dad.

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I had the idea that my husband would teach the kids some of his interests on a regular basis. For example, he would have an archery class or wilderness survival class every Saturday for an hour or so. However, he was never really on board with the idea of teaching the kids on a regular basis. My husband is pretty busy with work and generally does home improvement projects on the weekends. He did spend a little time with the kids and their bows right after they first got them for Christmas in 2015, but the bows were really heavy duty, and the kids tired quickly, so that was the end of that. He now wants to hold off with the bow training until the kids are older. His involvement with parenting happens in the evenings when he gets home from work, usually only an hour or two before their bed time. He is the fun dad who loves to tickle and wrestle the kids but most of the time he’s exhausted and needs to relax after a long 10-12 hour day at work. The kids completely depend on me for almost everything, but I don’t think it’s unique to our homeschool household vs. our non-homeschool household. It’s always been that way for us.

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There is no involvement in homeschooling other than to ask how his day went. As far as parenting, he does back me up on most decisions… but he is not really actively involved in much with my son. My husband retired from the military 10 years ago and it seems he retired form everything. He spends most of his time on his phone playing games. He occasionally plays video games with my son but he does not respect my wishes no not have them play violent games like tour of duty or the likes… instead he tells my son to keep it a secret and he plays it with him. My son spent a lot of time when he was younger looking for a father figure in other men like his boy scout leader or his head master when he was in school. My husband does play board games at dinner and sometimes he goes places with us… He does love our son… of that I am sure but he is kind of done parenting I think. We have grown daughters ages 30, 28 and 26 and our 11 year old son. Our son was very wanted, and he is my husbands and my only biological child his daughters are from a previous marriage although we raised them as their mom was not around. I do a lot… I work 1 full time and 1 per diem job, homeschool and run the house cooking (even when I am not home) and cleaning and running errands… its overwhelming.

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My husband has been more involved with parenting in the last few years, but he is almost completely hands off with homeschooling. I work 3-12 hr shifts per week, and occasionally my husband is home before I am. When he does get home before me he will ask the kids, “did you guys do you school work today?” If they say “yes”, all is good, if they say “no” he will tell them “better get it done.” Occasionally, If I ask, he will listen to our 10 yr old son read. He will also listen if they recite a poem or bible verses. He does not help with any lessons, shopping, grading etc.

Have you discussed your desire for more involvement with your husband? If so, what was his response?

I have talked to him about being a little more involved but it does get tough due to responsibilities. I know he tries his best. Every time I have reached out to him and expressed my overwhelmed feelings he doesn’t hesitate to help out more than usual.

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I have discussed my desire for him to be more involved in our homeschool but his response is usually as follows, “I don’t teach. I’ve never had the desire to teach and I don’t think I ever will. This is your thing.” I began this journey knowing that this was going to be all on my shoulders. Even though I secretly wish he’d be more involved and sometimes catch myself comparing our situation with others who have husbands who enjoy teaching their children, I do my best to appreciate this opportunity. I know our situation isn’t my ideal situation but still consider myself very lucky to be able to do what I do. I know single moms who work full time and homeschool on their days off and just know that I have got it pretty good.

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I have not really spoken to him about becoming more involved because I don’t want to have arguments about the curriculum, if I am teaching it right, if our son is understanding it… My husband has very little patience and does not tolerate mistakes well and my son has a terrible tendency to talk back (I am trying to get my point across he says) so having my husband involved would most likely end in disaster. I do wish he were more involved, but a lot of him would need to change before that happened. That is not to say that I am without fault… I have many a day where I lose my cool as well.

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We have been married for 17 years, I know what to ask for and what to let alone. I would actually prefer if I needed help, that he help in another area of our life (parenting, yard work, home maintenance, even cooking).

What have you done to compensate for a lack of partnership that has NOT worked?

I have complained directly to my husband that he doesn’t help me enough with the kids. This usually starts a fight. Complaining to your husband that he doesn’t help out enough when he works more than full time is usually a bad idea. Especially when you don’t work. Yes, sharing responsibilities is a great idea, but there’s definitely better ways to discuss concerns so you don’t end up sounding like you don’t appreciate what he does do for your family.

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Listening to many podcasts and reading many blogs for advice is good but can get overwhelming… I tend to compare myself to them and their lives… failing to remember that my life is not like theirs… my circumstances are different. I tend to feel pressure to do it like them, to have the amazing schoolroom and the books and the reading and the laughter and the sunshine, unicorns and rainbows… and end up disappointed when I don’t… I change curriculum because someone recommends it, I am easily swayed to try something new because I cant see what is working… I spend a lot of time in tears. I think doing this past year without some form of community like CC has not worked as well for us…

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Buying every curriculum that floats by my computer screen! Asking my husband to do more within our school than I know he wants. I knew from the beginning this was ALL on me. Asking him to check math answers or help with grammar is just met with his obvious frustration, resulting in me becoming frustrated too.

What have you done that HAS worked?

Communication is key in anything but knowing also the right words to say with love is important.

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I make sure to thank him for what he does for our family. I will ask him to do the dishes or give the toddler a bath while I’m busy with something else and trust him to do a great job. I don’t complain about the way he does things or nit pick if he does things differently than I would do them. I always make sure to thank him with extra affection. A little affection goes a long way in a busy lifestyle. We make sure to take time to be together as a couple on date nights a few times a month. I know neither of us are perfect and in order to have a happy family, we have to have a happy marriage. If he doesn’t want to be involved in teaching, I will respect that and remember to be thankful that I can work from home and teach my kids this way. I know I’m so blessed to have a wonderful family and a husband who provides for us so I can stay home and homeschool the kids.

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There are no co-ops in this area, so last year I joined CC just for the language part… it was out first year schooling and he needed some other people to be around as he transitioned… It worked well but we didn’t continue this year because of my job and traveling. (I work full time as well as a travel nurse and we tried homeschooling on the road… but that was not a good decision for us at this point) I have found other homeschoolers and try to get together with them… I am trying to form a book club for the kids as well… but that is going slowly… I have friends to run ideas by and I listen to a lot of pod casts! I talk to my minister, my sister and friends as well as other homeschoolers for ideas in inspiration.

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Reflection on what seems to be working and not working. Talking with our kids about what they like and don’t like and what they want or need. They know that I make all the final decisions, but I will ask their input. Actually, I have asked my husband to listen as I read from three different history books in order to help me decide which one I would use for the upcoming year. He enjoys history and gave good input regarding what he thought about both kids and how they would or would not like each of the history books.

What do you recommend to other married women who are homeschooling without help?

Set a schedule, make sure to stick to it. 

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I recommend meeting with other moms who are in your situation. You can search for facebook groups of homeschoolers in your area and ask if there are others in your situation who might want to chat for encouragement. It always helps to know that you aren’t alone. I like to watch “homeschool in real life” or “a day in the life” videos on YouTube for ideas and encouragement and listen to podcasts about homeschooling. We all need constant reassurance and confidence boosts to continue on our journeys so we don’t burn out, doubt ourselves, and give up. 

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If you are married take the time to try to get your spouse involved… a little bit at a time… even if its reading aloud. Get them to take something off your plate. Maybe have them take them on weekend field trips or something… they don’t have to grade papers or teach the lessons, but have them part somehow… even if they don’t know they are! If your spouse is good at something, have them teach it to your child. Shift roles, maybe since you’re schooling they can do the cooking… or the cleaning or run the errands. Tell them you really want this to work and even if they cant participate in the schooling could they help you out by doing other things that will free you up to teach? Don’t take this on alone… if you cant get your spouse on board, find a co-op or a community where others are joined and use them as your sounding board. Ask others for help… use every resource your community has to offer in order to find what works for you. Pray daily… ask God for guidance… Don’t forget tot take care of you. Find time for you to have time with friends… or do an activity for yourself… something you enjoy. Don’t get consumed by all of this… learn to let some things go… you’re human and we are all bound to make mistakes. Forgive a lot… be humble and realize that time is precious… don’t work so hard on schooling that you forget about creating memories as well… I have spent the past year not doing the above and looking back, I wish I could go back and do it over… but I can’t. I ask for forgiveness, and I move on to the next lesson.

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Homeschooling is not easy. I wish I did not have to work so that I could provide the environment that I envision. But that is not where we are right now, so facing reality is not easy, but it’s doable. We eat out way more than we should, the house is certainly not as clean as I’d like it, and I’m always in a panic that I’ve forgotten to pay a bill. But I have all the equipment that I need to get the job done and we just keep plugging away. The one thing that I think is quite helpful to me is listening to other homeschoolers. Note: Pinterest is great, but stay away! I also think that all media gets in the way. If someone is already struggling in their homeschool life, getting sidetracked with devices is not helpful. I have to constantly remind myself. I have a VERY limited amount of time to complete our schooling; I absolutely do not have time to waste on the computer. There are several podcasts that I listen to during my commute or while cooking dinner. I also have some conference talks that I just love and have listened to several times. 

What other advice do you have for those homeschooling without help? Comment and let me know.

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