This week, I have some great get-real articles for you and an opportunity for fellow homeschool bloggers to link up and share what’s hot on their own sites. I’ll highlight the best articles in next week’s issue. As always, click the article titles to read and if you love them, comment or share the hotness! God bless your homeschooling this week.
The Trouble with Toddlers
Elizabeth at the Hesitant Housewife offers no solutions. She admits, it’s just hard. Having homeschooled with five different toddlers around, I will tell you that’s the truth. Go ahead and try different approaches, but your best bet may be to hang on until the ride’s over.
Real Life Homeschooling in Photos
In the same vein, Elizabeth shares an unretouched view of homeschooling on Hip Homechool Moms. I know you don’t think so now, but those photos will become your prized possessions.
The 30 Day Mom Challenge
Raising Godly Children offers a printable for moms from IMOM that gives us teachers a bit of homework. I can’t wait to work on mine.
Stick Figuring Through the Bible
Stick figure art is all the rage, and as an art underachiever, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I love the idea of kids creating stick figures to help them remember Scripture. Check it out at The Curriculum Choice. It’s on my list of Bible curriculum to explore for next year.
The Hobbit: A Unit Study
Whether you’ve read the book, seen the movie, or just plan to, Homegrown Learners has a neat unit study for you, complete with picture of the smiling owner of a project prize for completing it.
Dealing with Doctors
Dealing with physicians and other health professionals poses a unique set of challenges to homeschoolers. In short, it can be scary! Heather Laurie offers us an empowering perspective in this The Old Schoolhouse article.
Have a hot article, tip, or resource to share? Please enter it below and either include my blog button or the link to this post in your own post or website. Please also visit at least one other link and thank them for the hot idea!
God bless your homeschooling this week!
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I received an email from an unmotivated homeschooler this week and with her permission, I am posting it here in the desire to encourage other home educators who are in the same place and to solicit even more great feedback from you veterans.
I came across your website tonight while doing a google search… yep, I googled, “What if I love the idea of homeschooling, but I’m really not cut out for it?” I’ve been trying to do it for almost 5 school years now. My first son took two years for kindergarten because I got sick (and lazy), my second son is special needs – on the autism spectrum somewhere, and my third school-age child is my first daughter in Kindergarten, and I have a 2 year old.
My point is that I’m at that place where I really think I’m doing an injustice to them by keeping them home. I’m not getting things done, they’re lazy and it’s most likely because they see it in me. There’s a lot that goes into that, but the question remains… how do you DO what you know you need to do? How do you kick yourself in the tuckus so to speak to get the job done? I know what my calling is and what is expected of me, but I’m really struggling in getting it done…thanks for any advice.
An Unmotivated Homeschooler
I had some thoughts, but I took the issue to my Homeschool Homies (HH) and here is what we have to share with her:
- Check your expectations. One of my HHs suggested that if you took two years to do kindergarten, you might be expecting way too much. Kindergarten should be a gentle introduction to math, reading, and learning in general. There are few reasons to hold your child back in kindergarten, though you can continue to work on skills at his level. In other words, are you really lazy, or do you expect to do more than is reasonable? Unreasonable expectations lead to overwhelm which can in turn lead to feeling unable to start.
- Do less. When you feel like you aren’t doing much, this seems like crazy advice, but having less to do helps you do more. One HH swears by taking time to train her children to do household chores like laundry and cooking. When my children were younger, I had a housekeeper come in once every two weeks. Both strategies can free you up to spend more time teaching. Next, simplify your schooling. Set aside time-consuming, activity-heavy curriculums and do the essentials (some Bible, math, reading, and some language arts instruction–maybe some handwriting practice). Subjects like history, science, and geography do not have to be done every day and can be simply reading a great book in that subject area.
- Get accountability. Being a home educator is tough for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest is we have no one overseeing our work and giving us feedback (at least in most states). Ask your husband to hold you accountable, join or start a co-op requiring preparation every week, and/or find an accountability partner. Ask an experienced homeschooler to look over what you hope to accomplish in an average day or week and let her tell you if it’s reasonable. Once you have a reasonable plan, have an accountability check-in each day or week. I use a website called idonethis.com and when I reply to it each evening with a list of accomplishments, I cc my accountability partner. Agree with your partner that if you haven’t met a minimum standard in a certain time period, that you should send your children to school.
- Get support. My HHs agreed that you have a lot to handle at this stage of your homeschooling. If you don’t get together with other homeschoolers in person or online on a regular basis, may I suggest that you do so ASAP? This is a very difficult calling and we need our HHs to cheer us on. I dont know what I would do without the time to talk, laugh, and cry with my HSing pals. I really like the Hip Homeschool Moms FB page for asking questions and getting support. You may also want to consider programs that can support your homeschooling. From enrollment in online schools where all the teaching and grading are done for you to day programs and classes, you will find that you really don’t have to do it all!
I also asked my HHs how they get things done that they’re reluctant to do. Here is what they said:
I just do it. If it has to be done…
That might seem unreasonable, but sometimes we obsess over a task ten times longer than it would take to just do it. Just doing it may be setting a timer and doing it for a minimum time and then being allowed to stop. Your children will respond well to this, too.
I give myself a reward. If we get a lot of school done one day, we might go to the park the next.
One of the biggest reasons we homeschool moms get stuck doing things that aren’t school-focused is we don’t give ourselves guilt-free time. Make sure you have some every single day. Whether your older child plays with the younger while you surf the web for half an hour, you pay a sitter to come give you time away once a week, or your husband takes over at scheduled times, you will find yourself refreshed and ready to homeschool once again.
I pray about it.
Love this one. We are doing something great for the glory of God. Why would we expect it to be easy or to do it alone? God is there to help us and will certainly equip us for the work He has called us to do. My Homeschool Homies and I are praying for you!
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. – Philippians 2:13
P.S. Treat your homeschooling like a career. Develop habits and a routine (FLYLady is wonderful inspiration) or a schedule (Managers of Their Homes is excellent). Build in break times that coincide with times you’re tired. Give yourself credit for what you DO do, rather than what you don’t.
Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for plenty of motivating ideas.
Do you have any other suggestions for our Unmotivated Homeschooler? Are you an unmotivated homeschooler who needs advice or prayer? Just ask!
I have a friend who will begin her homeschooling journey this fall. She has been asking some excellent questions like this one: how do you homeschool with toddlers and newborns? I homeschooled for nine years with toddlers and newborns and while I didn’t do a perfect job of it, I do have some things to share.
- The first and most important way to homeschool with little ones is to reign in your expectations. In this regard, I had an advantage because I had never homeschooled WITHOUT toddlers and newborns in my home. If I had, I probably would have been tearing my hair out! As it was, it was all I knew. If you are picturing school at home rather than a home that is a school, you will end up frustrated. Babies and toddlers aren’t allowed at traditional schools. It’s impossible to create the same quiet, orderly atmosphere at home as a classroom teacher can when you have little ones. But that doesn’t mean your homeschool is inferior!
- Recognize that there are advantages to having babies and toddlers in your homeschool. They aren’t an interruption in your school day; they are the reason you are teaching. Having older children experience young children is a part of their education. I taught a college developmental psychology course and had to ask the students to find a way to spend time with young children. The sad fact is that in our lower birthrate, age-segregated society, having a lot of experience with young children is rare. Younger siblings teach your older children to be gentle, patient, and less self-absorbed. The olders learn how to teach the youngers. The youngers learn from their siblings and listen in as you teach the olders.
- Homeschool in the most baby-friendly area of your home. The last thing you need to worry about is the littles getting hurt while you’re explaining long division to junior. The room I used as our primary school room was attached to our playroom. I allowed the youngers to move from room to room as they chose. Lower shelves in our school room had toddler-friendly books and toys. Consider having a box of school time toys that are only available at set times.
- Buy your toddlers the same workbooks as their siblings. David Hazell of My Father’s World does an excellent talk on the subject of occupying toddlers. One of his best suggestions has to do with the fact that we homeschoolers buy all kinds of new school goodies for our elementary kids every fall and nothing for the toddlers. David calls this “Christmas Without Me.” He recommends buying identical workbooks even if it costs you a little dough. The peace you get in return is well worth it!
- Schedule projects that aren’t baby-friendly during nap time. I spent lots of time reading to my older kids while nursing babies. When it came time to do the timed science experiments, the baking, or the obstacle course races, I made sure the little guys were sleeping. Does that always work? Nope! Some days there is no nap. That’s when you reign in your expectations. Tomorrow is another day.
- Schedule play dates with other homeschooling moms with young kids. You’ll discover you’re not alone and your friends will help you reign in those expectations. For several years, I participated in a Bible study with other moms while a teen watched our youngsters. A Mothers of Preschoolers group is another great way to connect with moms in the trenches.
- Make sure you have “me” time. When I had lots of little ones, I had a housekeeper come in twice a month. I also had my niece watch the kids for me a couple of hours every week. Occasionally, I would use that respite time to go on dates with my husband. It helped me enormously! If you can’t afford these options, swap babysitting duties with a friend or clean together. I’ve used these approaches, too. Having some time away isn’t selfish; it helps you to be a better mom and wife.
- Remember that this is a short season. Even though I had nine years’ worth of little ones in my homeschool, it flew by. Now I wonder why I had such a fit about all the books being pulled off the shelves, the toys scattered everywhere, and the lessons we didn’t finish. These are precious days. Enjoy learning together.
Do you have any other suggestions for homeschooling with babies and toddlers? Join the conversation at Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.