Goals and Devotions: Homeschooling, the First Year

Goals and Devotions: Homeschooling, the First Year

New homeschoolers often struggle to articulate their goals. They’re in there somewhere, but if they aren’t made clear, these new home educators are likely to be disappointed and discouraged.

Goals First Year HomeschoolingListen to the podcast

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.

New homeschoolers on the podcast

On the podcast this week, I got to catch up with Mai Lynn, Courtney, Erica, and Jolene about chores and meal planning. Jeannette caught up with me via email.

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.

What are your goals for this homeschool year?

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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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Christ-Centered Easter Ideas, Raising Boys, New Homeschoolers & More: What’s Hot in Homeschooling This Week

Christ-Centered Easter Ideas, Raising Boys, New Homeschoolers & More: What’s Hot in Homeschooling This Week

Whats Hot in Homeschooling

I have been having so much fun looking for great articles to share with you each week. Like most things in my life, I end up with more than I can possibly use. If you aren’t a Facebook fan of Motivated Homeschooler, I invite you to like the page and you’ll get even more hot homeschooling goodies each week. I also tweet and pin, so I’d love to have you follow me on Twitter or Pinterest if you use those media. If you’re a blogger who’s featured here, be sure to grab your “Featured On” button from the footer of this blog. And please keep linking up! I love reading your posts.

Christ-Centered Easter Ideas

Easter is less than a week away, but there is still time to use some of these fantastic ideas from Happy Home Fairy for keeping the resurrection of our Lord the focus of the holiday.

Raising Boys

This post caught my eye because I have five of these wonderful creatures. If you’re raising one, too, you’ll smile at this post from Parenting and Homeschooling in Faith.

A Running Curriculum List with Free Printable

Spring is the time when all good homeschoolers start thinking about curriculum for next year. So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler has a great method for not just tracking curriculum you’re interested in, but saving money on it, too.

Amazing Insects Video

We got a bunch of snow in my neck of the woods this week, but soon it will be time for the insects to come out and do their thing. Creative Homeschool Ideas shares this insect video featuring close-up photography that turns bugs into fascinating monsters. It’s free to watch on YouTube. Love that.

Dear Mom Who Decided to Homeschool

If you’ve just decided to homeschool or you know someone who has, don’t miss this letter from Moms Mustard Seeds. I would have LOVED to have had this letter when I was just starting out.

Glazed Doughnut Muffins

What do muffins have to do with homeschooling? Everything! Breakfast begins the day and if you eat something as incredible as these sound, the school day is bound to go well. I’ve got to try these SOON.

Now it’s your turn to share what’s hot in your homeschool this week. Don’t have a blog? Feel free to share in the comments.

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How can I homeschool if my kids won’t listen?

How can I homeschool if my kids won’t listen?

How Can I Homeschool if My Kids Won't ListenThe 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.

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Co-op Motivation

Co-op Motivation

How Co-ops Can Motivate Homeschoolers

Somehow I don’t think I would have been motivated to re-enact the Revolutionary War on my own. But knowing that I had eight other children on their way to my house to do just that, got me going.

A co-op can be anything from taking turns teaching one another’s children, to formal classes, to families studying together. Here’s why I am a big fan of co-ops to boost motivation:

  • Accountability. There have been many times that the only reason I made sure we completed a paper or project was because I knew the other families would have it done. I like to teach writing to my friends’ kids because I know that writing won’t get put on the back burner. In the same way, teaching a literature class ensured that I got some classical reading done.
  • Friendship. Work doesn’t seem like work when you’re with a friend. Having time to talk with my homeschooling mom friends makes the activities worth the effort. The kids seem to feel the same way. What would be objected to outside of co-op is embraced within it.
  • Breaks. Workplace research demonstrates that rest breaks increase productivity. When I can pass the teaching responsibilities on to a competent friend, I am energized to resume teaching later. I have utilized a friend’s help in being solely responsible for teaching a biology lab co-op and have taken turns being responsible within our unit study co-op.
  • Numbers. There are some activities (like plays, speeches, and parties, for example) that just don’t seem worth doing with only our family. Sometimes more is better where motivation is concerned.
  • Memories. My children remember our co-op activities more than anything else they study and why wouldn’t they? We have taken incredible field trips, lived out history, and experimented together. While I love the learning, I treasure the time we have spent with friends who are really more like family.

I started a co-op by advertising for interested moms within our homeschool support group. If you think joining a co-op would make you a motivated homeschooler, start discussing the possibilities with homeschoolers you know.

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