When I started homeschooling, I honestly wanted to feel like a superior mom. Isn’t that awful? I wanted to have obedient, eager-to-learn kids who would make me look good. My kids took care of that goal rather quickly. Instead, I learned I was an impatient, ineffective, disorganized mom who wasn’t cut out for homeschooling.
The good news about my failure is that I learned I needed God to homeschool. Growing closer to God also changed my goals. At first, one of my goals was to raise children who loved the Lord. I have since learned that I don’t have control over my children’s faith. My new goal is to share my faith with my children and pray for God to grow the seeds I’ve planted. Other goals for our homeschooling include developing close family relationships, inspiring a love of learning, and helping to prepare my children to do their best on college entrance exams. It’s a wonderful feeling that I feel I have met those goals at this point in my homeschooling.
Had I chosen goals of finishing a curriculum, having my kids love a certain curriculum or activity, or achieving a certain ACT score, I know I would have been disappointed.
Goals guide our homeschooling
My goals help me to make decisions when I anticipate obstacles. For example, I have been able to decide against certain curricula that includes busywork I know my children would hate. My goals help me decide to replace our regular Bible curriculum with discussion and prayer over sibling conflict. And my goals help me prioritize my kids’ study time for the ACT.
I review these goals with my kids. I want them to know what the priorities are, so God willing, they will share them. I would like to make the goals more visible this year by creating a sign for our school room. Having a copy in my planner will also help me keep them top of mind.
God helps us achieve our homeschool goals
My favorite false god has been my own strength. If I can succeed in my homeschooling goals myself, then I will get all the credit. The problem with this, of course, is that I carry all the responsibility for achieving the goals too. I have felt like my children’s faith, education, and relationship skills are all up to me. No wonder I’ve had periods of stress and burnout!
The good news is that it isn’t all up to me and it isn’t all up to you, either. Having time with the Lord when I can pray, read the Bible, and write out my thoughts has been critical to my ability to persevere in homeschooling. That time has never been 365 days a year consistent. It has varied in duration, time of day, and focus. But it has been a habit, nonetheless.
If I could change one thing about my homeschooling, it would be that I would have trusted the Lord more. I would have laid every burden, worry, and concern at the Lord’s feet, knowing that He heard me and would work everything together for our good. Because He has! Part of that trust for me would have been believing that God wanted to answer my prayers through the help of others. I often refused help or didn’t ask for it. I suffered frustration and defeat too often because of my self-determination.
Chores went pretty well. Instead of going ahead and doing it because it was bothering me, I assigned jobs and they accomplished a lot most days. lol I didnt really get a hold of laundry yet. Meal planning did get a little better. knowing what I was going to make made dinner less stressful. I started cutting things and freezing it to prepare for meals.
We also chatted about their goals and faith life. Jeannette shared:
Some goals are to relax more and remember they are still young. We will focus on reading and character.
My faith goes up and down daily. One day I’m sure God will provide and I remind myself of all He’s done so far. Then other days I see no way and I wonder how it will all happen. But this journey so far definitely has given me more faith-filled days.
If you’d like to follow along with the homework I gave our new homeschoolers, grab your copy of The Organized Homeschool Life and do the devotions and goal challenges. Set achievable goals and schedule a time for you to spend with God, even if it doesn’t happen every day.
I am not new to homeschooling. I’ve heard of Charlotte Mason (of course) and I’ve done some reading about her educational philosophy. I’ve thoroughly checked out the Ambleside website, dedicated to providing resources for Charlotte Mason homeschooling. But can I be real with you? I thought it seemed like too much for this homeschooling-in-less-time mama. I don’t have my kids read stacks of dusty, old books. I use traditional science curriculum. I’d like the kids to be outside more, but I’ve had a hard time spending even 15 minutes outside much of the time.
Why I’m a New Fan of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
I love, love LOVE this book. I did not know how much Charlotte, Cindy, and I have in common. I actually HAVE been a Charlotte Mason homeschooler in so many respects. For example, I have introduced living literature into all subjects from the beginning. I am not a typical textbook fan, preferring history spines like Mystery of History and historical fiction and biographies instead. I believe in the power of story for teaching and created Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum out of that philosophy.
I believe, like Charlotte and Cindy, in short lessons. Kids aren’t the only ones with short attention spans. Don’t worry, this won’t be a long article. 🙂 Short lessons are demonstrated to improve learning and they keep moms interested, too.
I also believe in the power of God’s Word for teaching children the faith. I love the curriculum I’ve used to teach my children during our Bible time, but until I read Cindy’s book (including Charlotte’s words), I had forgotten that I need to JUST READ SCRIPTURE to them. I’ll be doing the homework for that easy lesson.
I’m a traditional science person. I have loved having my good friend manage my kids’ labs in our Apologia curriculum on our co-op day. I was thinking that there was no way that I can tromp through the woods every day with my kids drawing in journals (something they do NOT enjoy!). So I dismissed a Charlotte Mason approach to nature study. But Cindy changed my mind. I already have Fridays as a fun day in our homeschool. There is no reason we can’t do one of Cindy’s excellent Creative Nature Walks on Friday. I know my kids would LOVE it! It’s spring as I write and I have a serious case of spring fever. I can’t wait to get out of the house! I know my children feel the same way.
Cindy isn’t a Charlotte Mason purist. I reject legalism. It’s one of the reasons I’m a homeschooler. I want to find a way to incorporate others’ ideas in a way that works for my unique family. Cindy’s book on Charlotte Mason in 18 Easy Lessons helps me do that. She makes it clear that she isn’t studying Shakespeare every week. What a relief! That would be a no-go in my house. Everything that Cindy shares from Charlotte’s philosophy is made accessible for real moms like me. I’ve been homeschooling a long time, but I feel like I’m ready to start fresh! I’m going to do the homework for 18 weeks and I know my children will be cheering.
Giveaway, Goodies & More
Cindy has generously offered my readers a free download on doing nature study Charlotte Mason style. She has also included notebooking pages (on trees, seeds, Easter and more) for a total of 29 pages! That is HUGE! The book is brimming with resources for doing nature study in a practical and fun way. When you download, you’ll also receive updates from me and Cindy, including more ideas on incorporating the Charlotte Mason approach into your saner homeschooling. Click the button below to claim yours.
But that’s not all! Cindy has generously donated FIVE books as a giveaway. They include:
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Lessons
Loving Living Math
100+ Creative Nature Walks
Easter Nature Study Through the Holidays
NaturExplorers Incredible Creeks
I gave Facebook Live viewers an inside peek into three of Cindy’s books (CM in 18 Easy Lessons, Loving Living Math, and Creative Nature Walks) on the Psychowith6 Facebook page. Earn entries in the giveaway all week long by commenting on the video and sharing it. Click the page to enter.
I’m still not done! Cindy has gone a little crazy and is offering you 20% everything in her shop with code SANITY until March 28th. You can pick up any of the books in the giveaway, her specific nature studies (like the book on clouds), or her seasonal studies. You’ll be ready to do nature study all year, even when you aren’t formally doing school.
A good education is something we all want for our children. I believe that full-time homeschooling has been the best choice for my children. But I know many people for whom that is not an option. However, supplemental homeschooling is always an option for parents whose child is in public or private school. I want to explain what supplemental homeschooling is; why it matters; when you should do it; and finally, how to supplement a traditional education with homeschooling.
I’ve been hearing more and more lately about hybrid homeschooling and that’s not supplemental homeschooling. I consider hybrid homeschooling any combination of homeschooling and traditional school during regular school hours. For example, I know people who send their child to a public school on certain days of the week or only in the afternoons. I know homeschoolers who are very happy with this arrangement. But I consider these types of schooling situations to be homeschooling and not traditional school. Supplemental homeschooling means you have your child in a traditional school, public or private, but you want to add to their education when they are not in school.
Why Should You Supplement Your Child’s Education with Homeschooling?
The advantages of homeschooling are clear. Not only can homeschooling produce a superior education with its focus on one-on-one tutoring, but it also builds strong relationships between parent and child. It can strengthen a child’s faith when parents provide an enriching spiritual education. It can strengthen sibling relationships, too. If you are new to the possibility of homeschooling, you’ll want to listen to the episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show called Homeschool Motivation on Demand. In it, I remind homeschoolers of the why of homeschooling.
You may wonder why I’m recommending supplemental homeschooling on a homeschool blog. There are two reasons. First, we all have friends who do not homeschool. Perhaps they can’t afford to give up one income in order to homeschool full-time. Perhaps one or more parents isn’t in favor of full-time homeschooling. Or perhaps one of your friends is just afraid to take the plunge into full-time homeschooling. Whatever the situation, we can suggest supplemental homeschooling and bless both our friends and their children with this amazing lifestyle. However, there is a second reason why supplemental homeschooling is an important topic to address. There may come a time when we send our children to a traditional school. That was the case for me. I did not expect to be sending my oldest son school, but we did. I was thankful that I had these ideas for adding to his traditional education. Even if you homeschool full-time, I think what I have to share will give you ideas for supplementing your child’s education in powerful ways.
When to Supplement a Child’s Education with Homeschooling
The most obvious time for supplemental homeschooling is during school breaks. There are substantial breaks over the Christmas holidays, spring, and summer. Another opportunity for supplemental homeschooling for some students is in the morning before school. Some traditional students have to be at school so early that this may not be an option, but for other families, it would be. Students have time in the afternoon and evenings as well. I was so surprised by how early my son came home from school. In fact, on Wednesdays, he was home very soon after lunch. Those afternoons and evenings are time available for supplemental homeschooling. The next obvious time available for supplemental homeschooling is on weekends. But I know what you’re thinking. Students in traditional school are busy. They tend to have homework and are involved in a number of activities. However, the suggestions that I have should not be overwhelming for a child in traditional school.
How to Supplement with Homeschooling
First, let’s talk about opportunities that would be perfect for longer breaks from school. The most obvious option, which many traditionally schooled kids also take advantage of, is field trips. Homeschoolers love field trips. We tend to take advantage of many of them including those that are a bit off the beaten path. We don’t just go to all the standard institutions of learning like the zoo and the science center, but we find interesting places to take our children to. If you are interested in supplemental homeschooling over a break, I recommend that you look up homeschool field trips in your area. No doubt homeschoolers near you have already put together a list of great field trip opportunities. A second aspect that makes a homeschooling field trip different than one your child might take in a traditional school is the preparation. There are wonderful materials available at some locations’ websites that you can download and work through before you take a trip. But more importantly, you can read a number of books before taking a field trip. In addition to the nonfiction books you would expect, read related fiction. Homeschoolers call such works “living books.” They teach in a more enjoyable and effective way. You can find a list of living books online for just about every topic. If you’re having trouble, request to join a homeschool group on Facebook and ask for tips. I have a safe group that you are welcome to join at HomeschoolScopes.tv. Homeschoolers also have amazing free field trip forms for your child to keep track of what they’ve learned on a field trip. Here’s a link to a free field trip form as well as to the Apologia field trip journal that you might be interested in purchasing.
During breaks from traditional school, you may also want to enroll your child in classes. Now, this is nothing new for traditionally schooled children to do. I’m not talking about the typical camps and after-school classes that kids tend to enroll in. Instead, I suggest using the opportunity to have friends or family members who have a skill in a particular area to teach that skill to your child. This is something that homeschoolers often take advantage of. We asked my father-in-law who was a businessman to share with our homeschool co-op how he got started in business. It was one of my favorite memories of teaching my children. He did such a great job. He passed out fake money to the kids that they had to use to pay their wholesalers for products and materials.
Another option for break time would be to enroll your child in a class that is really of interest to him or her. So instead of a traditional art camp, perhaps there is a class that teaches a particular technique. Homeschool support groups in your area are an excellent place to find information about teachers and classes that aren’t widely advertised.
A final way to supplement traditional schooling during break times is to have your child do a clerkship or internship. This means you would talk to someone who has a skill that your child wants to learn in depth. For example, if you have a child who loves photography and you happen to know a photographer, ask the photographer to spend some time teaching your child on the job. Again, this is something that traditionally schooling parents could do, but may not think of it the way that homeschoolers do. Read about how to teach to your child’s talent.
Aside from large breaks from school, what kind of supplemental homeschooling could you do in the mornings before school? This time of day is perfect for some Bible or character study. Reading a short family devotional, memorizing Scripture, or simply reading the Bible out loud together can enrich your child’s spiritual education. If you’re really short on time, you could have your child listen to an audio Bible or to a sermon online. Character Building for Families, Bible Gateway Audio, and Sermon Audio are some of my favorite resources.
But you’re more likely to have time to supplement your child’s education in the afternoon and evening. Of course, the problem with this time of day is that your child is likely to be tired and to have homework to do. However, this is a great time to supplement your child’s history and language arts education. To enrich your child’s history education, watch historical movies together in the evening. YouTube has an amazing number of short historical videos that you can watch as a family. I created a YouTube playlist of videos that go along with volume I of Mystery of History, a superb evening read aloud in its own right. (Note that some of the videos have been deleted since I created the playlists). That’s a great place to start. If you are interested in full-length movies that teach history, the book Learning with the Movies by Beth Holland is a great resource. You may be able to find these movies for free at the library or on Netflix.
The evenings are also the perfect time to read aloud. Whether you are reading historical biographies or Christian missionary stories like those from YWAM that my family has adored, or you simply choose to read a favorite book aloud, your children will be getting an excellent language arts, history, and even spiritual education in the evening. I created Grammar Galaxy to be a short story-based curriculum that takes just 10 minutes to read. The fun assignments can also be completed in about 10 minutes. If you have an elementary student who does not like to read or who struggles with language arts in school, Grammar Galaxy is a great solution that is perfectly suited to use in the evenings. Download a free lesson to try tonight.
The weekends are the perfect time to supplement your child’s education with science. Kids in traditional school want to spend time with their parents, even if they act like they don’t. Working on a chemistry experiment or robotics project together will be one of your child’s favorite memories. Homeschoolers have amazing resources for doing quick and easy science experiments that use materials you most likely have at home. You can also easily turn a weekend walk into an opportunity for science education. I did a podcast with Cindy West of Nature Explorers, talking about how to do that.
The weekends are also a perfect time to enrich your child’s cultural education. If there are plays or symphonies that are appropriate for children in your area, take them to see them. If you want to supplement your child’s experience of these plays or musical performances, you might watch related videos on YouTube or do some reading about the composer or play. If your child wants to see a movie that is based on the book, read the book first. As you’re driving during the weekend, take advantage of excellent audio materials. I reviewed some historical audio dramas on CD that I think your kids would love. You can learn a foreign language, memorize facts a la Classical Conversations, and much more.
Finally, weekends make an excellent time for service activities. Participate in activities through your church, community organization, or create your own. Have your children help you take care of an elderly neighbor’s lawn or stock shelves at a food pantry. These experiences not only build character but can be added to an older student’s resume leading to a potential scholarship.
What are you waiting for?
Supplemental homeschooling can make a huge difference in a child’s life and can strengthen family bonds as well. Please share this post on supplemental homeschooling with your traditionally schooling friends and keep this information available in the event that you send your child to school. Add some of these ideas to what you’re already doing if you homeschool full-time and you’ll be blessed.
Which of these ideas will you use first? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
The first change you should make to your homeschool now is to make your homeschooling fast. I wrote a very popular post called How to Homeschool in an Hour a Day. At this point in my homeschooling, an hour of direct teaching is all that I need to do on most days. This does not include individual tutoring, editing papers, or the courses I teach in our co-op. One of the reasons we homeschool is so that our children do not have to sit at a desk for seven hours a day. Research is conclusive that our attention is not sustainable for long periods. The shorter the lesson, the better. Short, frequent lessons are more effective in helping our children learn anyway. Short lessons are especially helpful for your children who have attention challenges. It’s even helpful for distractible moms!
We do morning family time as a way of saving time. We can complete many subjects in short order. I reserve Fridays for teaching things that I never have time to teach. We watch Bible or history videos, study art, or read about contemporary issues. The afternoons are reserved for independent work. My kids actually prefer their independent work time. They read and prep for their co-op classes, do math, Bible, piano, extra reading and writing, and exercise. They love structuring their own time.
The most common cause of homeschool mom burnout is trying to do too much. If you’re stressed and overwhelmed, reevaluate what you’re doing. God doesn’t ask us to do more than we can handle. Sometimes the stress is circumstantial. There is an ill family member, a job loss, or a move, to name a few of those circumstances. But more often than not, the stress comes from driving kids to two co-ops, six sports practices, and trying to complete two math curricula. It can also come from directly teaching individual students when that isn’t necessary. If you have a preschooler or emerging reader, more of your time is required. However, the younger the student, the less formal teaching you should be doing. When your student can read well, he can be asked to work independently. He can ask older siblings for help. He can wait for you to finish what you’re doing and go on to another question or subject.
Make Your Homeschooling Easy
The next change I recommend you make now is to make lessons easy. Planning lessons that are too easy for gifted children is something to avoid. Very easy lessons that are far beneath a gifted child’s ability level are demotivating for them. But in most cases, even for gifted children, lessons that can be completed without struggle are more motivating. Consider your own response to a difficult, time-consuming task. The harder it seems, the less you want to do it–the more likely you are to put it off. Many children who are resistant to reading are resistant because the reading material they’ve been given is too difficult for them. We want our children’s lessons to be easy and quick to complete so that motivation stays high.
Making it easy can mean skipping repetitive, unnecessary work. Curriculum authors want you as the teacher to have enough work to meet your needs. They aren’t implying that your child must complete every exercise, every page, or every book they suggest. I used a curriculum that would have exhausted me in college, let alone junior high. I cherry picked from the material to make sure my students wouldn’t hate it and me. A particular issue I’ve noticed with some homeschool curriculum is the expectation that students write a paper every week. That isn’t a requirement even at the college level, so I don’t expect it of much younger students. If you’re confused about what’s reasonable to expect, ask a traditional student the same age as your child how much they have to do. Expecting a little more than what public schools do is understandable, except you also want your child to have more time than public school students do.
If your child is struggling with grade-level material, give them material that’s a step down. We often don’t want to do that because we are afraid our child will be behind. The opposite is actually the case. If your child resists the work, she is more likely to get and stay behind. Give her work that makes her think she is a competent student. She will be motivated to get back to grade level on her own. If you can, find ungraded materials. Do some research on an easy curriculum for the subject your child is struggling with. Ignore the teachers who scare you by saying it’s too easy. There’s no such thing as too easy if it helps your child understand a subject. For example, don’t worry about college when your child hasn’t mastered algebra. Just focus on making algebra easy.
If you can’t find a curriculum that does the trick, find a teacher who can make concepts simple to understand. Reaching a struggling student can be like translating a foreign language. Someone else may have the words or the illustrations that will click with your child. Getting help isn’t failing. Not getting help when it could benefit your child is failing them.
When you make a subject easy for your child, you make it possible for him to love it. We all hate things that are hard, that we don’t understand. When the light comes on, we discover the joy of learning the material.
Make Your Homeschooling Fun
Finally, change your homeschool now by making it fun. Not everything we have to do in life is fun. I will never enjoy cleaning toilets. Some children will never enjoy certain homeschool subjects. But we can do our best to make things more enjoyable. We can pair less enjoyable activities with something pleasant like music, for example. We love to do chores with upbeat music playing. Some children find that working together with you as teacher or with other students makes material fun. My son resisted his art curriculum until I suggested we do art together. This is also why we are so committed to our homeschool co-op. My children love science, unit studies, and high school classes because they are doing them with other students and sometimes with another teacher.
You can make school fun by incorporating games. The advantage of digital curriculum is that it often gamifies learning, taking advantage of a proven motivator. Online educational curriculum or just games can supplement your primary curriculum and may end up being the most educational. I have written a post on the best online sites for grammar. Games don’t have to be on the computer, however. Talented teachers have created a number of card, board, and group games to teach just about everything. My post of the ultimate list of grammar games was my #1 post in 2016. I refer to it all the time myself.
In addition to using games, make your homeschool fun by incorporating variety. Anything that’s done repeatedly can become dry. As important as homeschool routine is, it’s also important to change things up in your homeschool. If you’re a textbook family, consider taking a break to do a unit study. If you are a unit study family, consider doing some traditional curriculum for a while. One year our co-op decided to only do field trips. We had focused on subject-intensive courses for quite some time and we needed a break. Surprise your students with a new plan, a new twist, or even just a new recipe. It will keep their minds fresh and help to eliminate oppositional attitudes.
I do not want to suggest that if your children don’t enjoy doing schoolwork that they should not have to do it. Having fun is not a requirement. But it is a worthy goal.
I created Grammar Galaxy to make language arts fast, easy, and fun. I had to share what mom Elizabeth recently told me. She mentioned that their schooling had been a little off schedule because of a move. She wrote:
We got back on track yesterday and started Mission 8. Let me tell you, it’s been fun, but my son lost his mind on this lesson! I have NEVER seen him laugh so hard during any lesson, for any subject since we started homeschooling. When the queen told Ellen, “I hate you” with tears in her eyes, he fell off his chair. He actually begged me to read the story to him again! I laughed equally hard at your instructions to try mixing up synonyms and antonyms at dinner (But [to] let your parents know what you are doing). Our 5 year old was so offended when he told me dinner was just terrible! You really did it. You truly made grammar fun. I didn’t think it was possible but you obviously deserve some kind of medal! THANK YOU!
If you have a 1st to 3rd grader, a beginning reader, or a reluctant reader, I highly commend it to you.
Which of these homeschool changes are you going to make this week? Let’s talk about it on Facebook.
I expected our interview to be about how to lay low and still convince our kids to homeschool our grandchildren one day. Instead, it was much more of a reminder of why we should homeschool in the first place.
The most popular question I get when I encourage parents to consider homeschooling is this one. Parents who have difficulty getting a child to do homework wonder how on earth they can teach him anything!
If you were to ask me, a psychologist and experienced homeschooler this question, here is how I would answer you:
If your child won’t listen to you, isn’t that a problem no matter where she goes to school? Even though your child may cooperate with her teachers, is it really working for you to battle over homework every night? What hope do you have that your child will listen to you when it comes to even more serious issues like use of the car, curfews, and alcohol use? Usually this answer gets parents thinking.
Obedience is a core subject. You may spend more time teaching it than any other, especially at the beginning of homeschooling. You will also learn more about your child and yourself as a parent than you thought possible. Improvement in obedience may be a bigger blessing than academic achievement.
You don’t have to homeschool to start working on obedience now. To get help, consult the greatest parenting expert I know and His book, free of charge. See Him first, and if you need some more examples of how to handle strong-willed kids, I like any of the Love & Logic books. Of course, there are other excellent resources out there, but this would be a great start. Once you see progress, reconsider homeschooling.
Fear is a very poor reason to miss a great opportunity. If parents told me they had no interest in homeschooling AND their kids don’t listen to them, I wouldn’t be as sad for them as I am for parents who truly desire to home educate, but don’t for the sake of fear. I understand fear because I had a lot of it as I considered homeschooling. Turns out I should have had even more fears because I was completely clueless about the challenges that lay ahead! But God has been faithful to accompany me on this journey. I once feared what I would miss out on by homeschooling and now homeschooling is an opportunity I wouldn’t miss for the world.
If you aren’t willing to teach discipline, you may want to keep your child in school. Without discipline, nothing can be learned. As homeschoolers unwilling to require obedience, we become like the inept substitute teachers I had in school. Chaos will reign and education will cease.
I encourage you to pray about this important decision. Homeschooling won’t solve all your family problems, but it can provide you with more time to work on them, if you’re willing.