Sunday, September 30, 2012

10 Practical Things Every Homeschooler Should Know

This an old post but as we are a couple months of school and I have talked to several Moms who are struggling, I thought I would post this again...

I have been talking to and seeing on message boards homeschool Moms discouraged about their first weeks of school. The kids are whiny and complaining, no one likes their curriculum and all the Mom is doing is putting out fires, not teaching. This is especially true of new homeschoolers. Where are the idyllic days spent reading with their child or making amazing lapbooks or crafting an amazing project based on what they are reading in history? They have heard about other homeschoolers getting all of this done and more. Why does it seem like it is a constant battle just to get math and Language Arts done? Why don't the kids seem to be enjoying the great projects that Mom has loving prepared? What has happened to the beautiful lessons plans that Mom has slaved over? Homeschooling is hard.
Don't worry and take heart. The first weeks of school are always the worst - sometimes even the first two months are bad. It takes everyone awhile to get used to this new regime. For a regime change has occurred especially if the child has previously been in a traditional school setting. Life has changed and there are new rules in place.
Don't change curriculum in the first two months for it may be less about curriculum and more about character training. It is more likely to be more about testing Mom than in a bad test score. It may be about seeing if Mom is really serious about this schedule than about whether the new schedule works. It may be about expectations, both Moms and the kids. So don't jump ship until the seas stop rocking and then you can take a serious look at what's working and what's not.
Here are some practical things that I have found to be helpful:
1. There is absolutely no whining or complaining in school. period. Teach your child Phil. 2:14-16. God doesn't like it ( and neither does Mom) so don't do it.
2. Have consequences pre-planned for whining and a lack of diligence. If you whine in our house or are not diligent in your work - you get more work but if you are, you get a marble in your jar which at a certain level will reward you with a special treat of some kind. This method works great with older kids, try a treasure box with pre-K - 2nd, filled with cheap little toys. Make sure and find something to reward your child with daily.
3. Have realistic expectations. A child will not sit quietly and let you read to them for hours. I learned this hard way. Let them play quietly with legos or color or draw while you read, it will go better.
4. Start school slowly. Add in the basics the first week, then slowly add in everything else. You will all be happier - trust me.
5. Plan fun things if the kids have been diligent. If the kids work diligently then take them out for an ice cream or better yet wait until Dad is home and give him the good report and then Dad can take them out while you have a bath.
6. Don't compare your homeschool with someone else's. Your friend, who homeschools, does not always have her act together either. Her house is not always clean and her husband does not always come home to a well-prepared dinner and her children do not sing like the VonTrapp's.
7. School time is sacred. Don't take phone calls, don't plan Bible studies, don't answer the door. It's your number one job for that time period. Limit outside activities during school hours. I don't do anything in school time, not co-op, not piano not anything. That's what the afternoon is for.
8. Have an ending time. School ends at this time - no matter what. Pick up where you left off the next day. Do your most important subjects first. I have a four day schedule so that I can use Fridays for pick up subjects.
9. Schedule time for cleaning and laundry and dinner prep. Most of my housework happens on Friday. Look at for help in scheduling housework. Check out for great slow cooker recipes. Dinner is done and you don't have to worry about it.
10. Make time for yourself and your husband. Schedule dates and keep them. Go out with your girlfriends or even just call them (after school of course). Have a mandated quiet time each afternoon, everybody goes to their room for atleast and hour - including you.
Homeschooling is hard but so is every good thing. Parenting is hard, marriage is hard, being a Christ-follower is hard but they are worth all the pain, sweat and tears I put into them. Homeschooling is the same way. More than worth it. There is nothing that I would rather do then to train and teach my children so that they will be ready for whatever amazing plan God has for them.
Have some other ideas that help you? Please let me know, my homeschool isn't perfect either and I could use all the help I can get.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Love Homeschooling

I love home schooling.  I really do.  Yes, there are days that are hard and sometimes I just don't feel like home schooling but at the depths of who I am, I love it.  Here are the top reasons I love homeschooling my kids.

1.  I love to be able to talk to my kids about God.  I love to be able to stop in the middle of a history reading and say, "Do you see how God prepared the way for the Good news to spread?  The Romans made roads across the known world which allowed the apostles to spread the news farther and faster."

2.  I love the "a-ha" moment.  I want to be the one to see my kids when the light bulb comes on and they get a concept or conquer something they have been struggling over.  It is the best part of my day.

3.  I love to be able to tailor my kids learning to each of them.  I can allow them to follow their passions while still maintaining a rigorous base of academics.  I can allow Caileigh to draw her summaries or let Collin build a Lego model or even watch as Connor makes a program to show his Chemistry results.

4.  I love to take learning outside of the books.  We can build a ballista while studying Roman armies, make Johnny cakes when studying early American history or take a field trip to the Scottish games where they also have a Roman encampment.  ( Can you tell we are studying Rome?)  When we bring the books to life, learning happens more fully.  It becomes a great memory not just a memorized fact.

5.  I love to have the opportunity to teach character training and academics all at the same time.  Being able to teach perseverance, diligence, self-control, obedience and contentment all while teaching math is a beautiful thing.

6.  I love to learn.  Selfishly, I love to teach my kids because I love to learn.  I get excited about all the new things we are going to learn.  I know I was never taught half of this information and I love to be able to learn it along side my kids.  It's fun!

7.  I love that my kids get to be who God made them with out too much outside pressure.  No one is telling them that they shouldn't love to learn or that it's too Geeky to read Programming manuals for fun or that their clothes or hair or whatever makes them popular or not popular.  They thrive on being originals.  They take pride in being able to play the piano or recite Latin nouns or discuss whether the Aenid by Virgil is just a copy cat version of The Odyssey by Homer.

8.  I love the sheer amount of time we get to spend together.  Yes, I have to teach how to be kind or what to do when we are frustrated with each other but I consider it a privilege to do so.  I get to teach them conflict resolutions while they are young.  I didn't learn many of these techniques until Scott and I were engaged, what a leg up they will have in their relationships.

9.  I love the ability to help them reach their potential.  I know I am the meanest Mom ever, but I love to    encourage them to try harder and learn more.  To do the hard thing not the easy thing.  To reach higher and achieve more.  I love to see when they surprise themselves by achieving something they didn't think possible.

10.  I love that I get to spend my days with the most amazing people on the face of the earth.  They are incredible and it is a blessing to spend my days with them. 

Here are few pictures showing why I love homeschooling so very much.

Homemade pastries on the first day of school.

Dressing up as a Magistra for the first day of school.  Acting and teaching at the same time!

My beautiful children - enough said.

Finding like minded friends that make learning together so much better!

Family outings which disguise the fact that actually they are learning opportunities.

Letting my kids be who they are, even if it scares me a little.

Having Dad being an integral part of the learning process.

Character lessons - see you are not so big and mighty even if you are 14.