My friend who will be homeschooling in the fall for the first time asked me this question. As that is one of the purposes of this entire site, it isn’t a question I can answer in one post. But I did have some thoughts!
- Choose curriculum you love. If you love it, even if it’s not what everyone else is using, your enthusiasm for it will get you out of bed on those cold winter mornings. I plan to share curriculum that has kept me motivated, but for now, if you love what you’re using, you’re on the right track.
- Be realistic in your homeschool planning. I told my friend to plan to teach about half of what she thinks she will. I made friends with another new homeschooler when she bemoaned that her 7-year-old son just wasn’t adopting her plan. I had such a good laugh with her about that. Our kids won’t adopt our plans if they aren’t based in reality. It’s not realistic to do every activity, every area of study, or every workbook page in a school year. It isn’t realistic to homeschool from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. either. I’d like to address this issue more in the future, but the best tip I can give you is to share your schedule and expectations with a veteran homeschooler (preferably one who knows you). If she laughs, you need to modify your plans.
- Make it fun in the early years. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is not having to adopt institutional learning practices for young children. Some children love traditional workbooks, but many don’t. What my children (and I) remember most are the times we mummified brother, had a family version of the Olympics, and invited Uncle Steve over to share his slides on Africa. I look forward to sharing ideas for making learning fun in future posts.
- Let children teach themselves. In recent years I have done more unschooling in the afternoons. As long as it was truly educational (Mario Kart doesn’t count), I let the kids explore their interests. As a result, the kids became origami experts and my 10-year-old shot and uploaded a video teaching kids paper crafts. I can only imagine the reaction I would have gotten had I assigned these projects! Aside from allowing your children to explore on their own, your curriculum plan should include plenty of materials that your kids can use on their own, especially once they are reading.
- Take time to recharge. Being a homeschooling mother is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but when I had many young children, it was often the most exhausting and discouraging. I wouldn’t have made it without lots of answered prayer, the listening ear of my husband, the support of other homeschooling moms, and time to regroup. I’ve mentioned previously that at various times during the last 12 years, I have had a housekeeper and a regular babysitter. Having someone thoroughly clean my house once every two weeks made the mess a little less stressful. If you can’t afford hired help, perhaps you could find a friend to clean with. You’ll make quick work of it and you’ll have fun chatting at the same time. I also hired my niece to watch the kids for a few hours one afternoon a week. I used that time to shop without babies and even to have an early date with my husband. The expense was much less than a therapy session. 🙂
- Remember that the days are short. I’ve had those days of constant interruptions and sibling bickering that follow sleepless nights when I’ve wondered how I would ever make it. Now I wonder why I ever worried. I look at pictures like the one featured with this post and I gasp at the privilege I have had of teaching these beautiful children. Get out your photo albums or watch a video and you’ll see how far you’ve come. You’ll be motivated to keep teaching. God bless you as you do.