5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Coffee Break Why

Day 1: Create your “Why!”

The time has come, you’ve decided homeschool your children.  Right now it feels like one of the biggest decisions of your life.  Perhaps you are having issues with your children’s school and the feather that broke the camel’s back has fallen so you’ve pulled them out.  Maybe you’ve been dreaming of homeschooling since they were tiny but the first days of kindergarten are looming and you are realizing you’ve got to commit to create to this crazy idea.  Maybe you’ve been at this homeschooling thing for years and you are feeling tired and weary and wondering if you should continue on.

No matter your life circumstances of the moment know WHY you are homeschooling will help you make the big and the small decisions about your family’s homeschool.  Let’s talk about some common reasons to homeschool.

  1. You are concerned about the environment of the schools.  Perhaps your child was a victim of a bully.  Maybe they have learned some inappropriate things from friends. Perhaps you are worried about some of the violence we often see displayed on the nightly news.  What ever it is about schools that have you concerned you feel like you can provide a better learning environment at home.
  2. You’d like to provide your children with an education centered on a religious world view. It is no secret that God has been removed from the public school classroom.  Even if you are blessed to live in a community with many Christian teachers these teachers are expressly forbidden from teaching from a place of faith.
  3. Dissatisfaction with academic instruction. In the home setting any parent can structure their child’s education to the individual child’s learning style and interests.  Chances are the outcome will be a better educated child.
  4. Child has special needs.  Whether those needs be academic, medical, behavioral, some combination, or something completely different… parents have the unique ability to structure the child’s environment for greatest success.

There are so many other reasons to homeschool that I have not listed here.  These four comprise just the top 4 that are often listed by many homeschooling researchers.  They are enough to get you thinking about this super important subject.

If your family is like mine then your “WHY” will probably encompass a few of the above or perhaps even all of them.  When I feel the need to revisit our why I will sit down with a paper and pencil and a prayer to God to remind me of His calling.  Then I just start writing a long, often discombobulated, crazy list.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while you are making your list….

  • What are our our family’s spiritual goals?
  • Why does homeschooling provide the better environment or way of life for our family?
  • What life skills do we want our kids to have?
  • What non-academic goals do we have for our family?
  • What are our our family’s educational goals?  What do we want learn? Why?

If you are a veteran homeschooling family you may also want to make a list of the good things that have come about since you started homeschooling.

Now post that list somewhere where you will see it often.  Or… if you are bit more structured you can turn your list into some statement…type it off, print it out, and maybe even frame it.

Here is an example of one great “Why” statement.

Why we homeschool… We homeschool in order to create an environment where we can develop a strong relationship with our Lord God and with each other.  We homeschool in order to learn through a Christian worldview.  We homeschool in order to become life long learners. We homeschool in order to develop positive character traits like diligence and perseverance int he face of academic and life struggles.  We homeschool to help us discover God’s plan for all of our lives.

When creating your ‘Why’ statement be purposeful and prayerful.  Revisit it from time to time as your WHY may grow or change and that is OK.  Use your WHY statement in moments when you need support and encouragement.

The members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in a 5 day series… Tips for homeschool parents.  I encourage you to visit their blogs and read up on their best tips too!

Annette @ A Net In Time
Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Cassandra @ A Glimpse of Normal
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm
DaLynn @ Biblical Womanhood
Danielle @ Sensible Whimsy

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Real Life Homeschooling: The Mess

Homeschooling is MESSY!  My house is a DISASTER most of the time!  Not only do 6 of us live here but 5 of us work here as well.  ALL.DAY.LONG.  Books!  Oh my goodness the books!  We go to the library and take 100 out at a time.  I haven’t found a basket large enough to store them all.  Even if I did these are children you know.  Books are EVERYWHERE!  Books on the floor, on the table, on the couch, on the stairs, on the kitchen table, on the counters.  If it is a flat surface there are books on it.

When this photo was taken not only was my living in homeschool chaos mode but also being prepped to be painted!

When this photo was taken not only was my living in homeschool chaos mode but also being prepped to be painted!

Or papers… or pencils… or crayons… or art supplies… or some projects…. some creation… a really cool thing my son found outside.  No matter how organized, how many routines and systems I put into place… homeschooling is just a mess.

When I was teaching preschool in the public schools I told all of the parents before the year began… “A messy child at the end of the day means the spent their time learning.”  A messy home at the end of the day means my children spent their day learning.

Someday when they are all gone and living life on their own I will miss it.  Our mess means life and learning are happening right here every day under my roof.  What else can I ask for?

RealLifeHomeschoolMESS

Real Life Homeschooling: The Fear

I’m continuing today with my series on Real Life Homeschooling.  Yesterday I shared with you what our crazy schedule looks like most days. It is pretty chaotic as you can see.  The feedback I received from that post was a bit overwhelming. It seems to be a relief for other moms to learn that they are not alone stumbling through the daily chaos.

Today I share with you my homeschooling fears.

I think people perceive me as pretty confident in my parenting and homeschooling.  Truthfully though I carry many fears about this homeschooling thing.

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So what am I afraid of?

1. I’m afraid that some day my kids will hate me because their childhood went against the grain of society.  Homeschooling becomes more common by the day so this fear ebbs a bit a time but I still fear that they’ll decide I some how screwed them up because they didn’t have the typical traditional school experience.

2. I’m afraid that that I’ll miss teaching them something vital.  I laugh at this one.  It’s so silly.  No traditionally schooled child learns absolutely everything (and they forget half of what they learn) so I really don’t why this one bothers me.  It makes me decide grammar is super important one week and not so much the next.  I mean… when in life do you ever diagram a sentence?

3. I’m afraid I’m teaching them the wrong way. I’ve thought about this one more these days as the internet floods with what looks like ridiculous Common Core math where it takes 100 steps just to figure out what 28 plus 32 equals.  I have my children to figure this out the way I learned it.  Will they go take some standardized test some day and be flunked in math because they do things my way?

4. I’m afraid I’m not doing enough! If our schooling isn’t blog/pinterest worthy, if we aren’t in 20 different activities, if we aren’t cruising through all of our curriculum, if we aren’t visiting with friends a million times a week…. if if if if if… I always feel like there is something I’m not teaching them (Latin anyone?) or some experience they are missing out on.  No matter how much we are doing I am convinced it just isn’t enough.

5. I’m afraid that homeschooling will damage our relationship.  Right this minute my son is working on an essay.  Each time he hands it to me I have to REMEMBER and REMIND MYSELF to find the things he does right and not just harp on the things he needs to work on.  I’m blessed with incredibly bright children.  I have high expectations however our relationship is far more important than learning to write the perfect essay.

6. I’m afraid that when my children grow up and move on in life I won’t know what to do with myself. Someday I won’t be a homeschooling mom any more. My entire life is wrapped up in educating and disciplining my children day in an day out.  What will I do when that is over? That scares me!

7. I’m afraid I’m so caught up in the details that life is passing me by! While I’m so worried about whether or not my son can write a great essay are more meaningful experiences passing us by?

Taking 100% responsibility for your children’s education… yeah this is scary stuff!  Logically though I know that what I am doing is the absolute best.  And just like I said in yesterday’s post, when I come up for air I can see the fruits of my labor.  Thankfully I have a husband who cares enough to point out the good things to me.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… my God is the one really in control of everything and if I trust Him He will ensure my children and I get everything we need.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Real Life Homeschooling… The Schedule

Today I kick off a blog series all about what homeschooling is REALLY like!  The nitty gritty, roll up your sleeves, get out and put some elbow grease into work.  I certainly don’t want to make homeschooling look scary or ugly because it isn’t… usually.  It certainly isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops either.  So here I am, opening the doors wide to my home and letting you see what truly lies behind this crazy world of mine where I homeschool 2 1/2 children (I say 2 1/2 – one 9 year old, one 7 year old, and one just getting started with some kindergarten level work – she’ll be 5 next month) all with a baby underfoot.

You have to promise me one thing before you read on.  I’m getting a bit vulnerable here and I’m holding nothing back.  Please be kind to me… AND! You have to promise me that you truly understand that no two homeschools look alike.  NONE!  What I do is TOTALLY different from what some of my friends do.  So no comparing.  AND PLEASE don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong!  That’s the last thing any mom needs to hear.

RealLifeHomeschool

Real Life Homeschooling Part 1: OUR SCHEDULE!

Oh boy our schedule!  This is a thorn in my side because there is the ideal that I’d like to see and then there is REALITY!  Once upon a time we a sweet little routine schedule that we followed pretty well most of the time.  I got up early and accomplished a whole bunch of things before my children awoke.  I started the day dressed and relatively put together.  My bathroom got wiped down and my bed was almost always made and the laundry was generally always caught up.  It was pretty sweet!  Then baby number 4 came along.  Woosh out the window all of that went!  She’s a restless sleeper so getting up early is REALLY tough for this mom!  So very little gets done in the mornings these days.  Truthfully I play catch up all day long.  Honestly most days I feel like a dog chasing my tail.

Here’s what it REALLY looks like right now….

7:15 – I peek at the clock and say some not nice words to myself because the kids will be up any minute and I failed to get up early AGAIN!

7:30 – Nurse the baby while trying to balance a plate with something edible for breakfast.  Thank GOODNESS my husband gets the kids fed most mornings.  I’d crack under pressure if this was my job.

8:00 – Guess what!The baby wants to nurse again. Didn’t we just do that?  My other kids are SUPPOSED to be making their beds/getting dressed/cleaning up/getting chores done… instead they are acting like wild animals while I holler up the stairs trying to try and keep them on task.

8:30 – Kiss Daddy goodbye (sometimes I panic a bit… he is a great husband and father and I am always sad to see him leave for the day)

8:35 – The kids still haven’t finished the chores that should only take 20 minutes.  Once they do they are SUPPOSED to read a book from our library book basket.

9:00 – I am balancing getting the baby down for a nap, while trying to pick up some dirty laundry off of my bedroom floor and creating a load to go in the wash… these days the bed rarely gets made and the bathroom only gets wiped down when walking in there makes me want to vomit or we have company coming.  During all of this chaos I’m hunting down something suitable to wear for the day… maybe.

9:30 – I am finally ready to start school.  By now the boys have made their way to the school room (God willing) and have started tackling some of the things they do independently – Like lessons in Kahn Academy or their typing program.  For the past 30 minutes my 4 year old comes to me every 3 minutes asking me “Mommy when will you do school with me today?”  A smart mom would create something for her to do at this time so she’ll stop that… I haven’t done that yet.

We are supposed to start with Bible study.  We do, sort of, sometimes.  Ok I don’t actually know what we start with.  By now there is usually some catastrophe going on that I have to fix.  The dog got loose, someone’s computer won’t start right, the baby blew out her diaper, something is wrong with the washing machine.  You name it.

10:00 Break Time – yes I know.  BREAK TIME!  We haven’t started yet!  Usually by the now the kids are begging for a snack.  They go off to start some other chores and eat.  Don’t ask me what I’m doing.  I really don’t know!  I’m just… there.

10:30 – I’m begging them to hurry up so we can get back to school and get something done GOSH DARN IT!

10:45 –  Time to REALLY start school.  Usually I just pick a subject and we go.  Maybe it’s that science thing we are working on.  Perhaps someone needs some math help.  Writing maybe?  It is really all up to whatever my priority is for that day.

11:00 – Just as we get started the baby wakes up hungry and in need of a diaper. I scurry off to do that as fast as I can.  Then I come right back and juggly nursing while overseaing whatever the task of the moment is.  Usually all 3 children are working on something different so I am being tugged in 4 directions at once.  And so it goes until lunch.

12 or 12:30 – We break for lunch.  Usually I have some sort of internal meltdown because I can’t find ANYTHING in the fridge acceptable to eat.

1:00 – I send the kids to play.  I just need a little break.  Usually the baby is pretty happy so I just sit.  I have to or I’ll loose my mind.

2:00 – Baby goes back to bed.  I love to read aloud to my children so I will often nurse the baby to sleep while I read.   After that the rest of the crew gets down to work again.

3:30 – Adventures in Odyssey comes on the radio.  We stop and listen.

4:00 – This is when I’d LIKE to have the kiddos work on some independent projects.  Guitar, computer programing, an independent unit study, an art project.  This time is really the magical time of the day IF we have time for it.

INTERRUPTIONS:

Some days we have swimming lessons and we are racing out of the door to get there on time.  Other days we have co-op… again we race out the door (side note, how parents with kids in school get out every day? I’d rip my hair out!).  Then there are our field trips.  I LOVE field trips.  Often in the afternoons we have to cut things short because my daughter has karate.  It seems we always have to stop just as we are FINALLY starting to get into a groove.  ARGH!

A homeschool life can be pretty chaotic.  I have SO MANY crazy goals for my children’s learning.  I want LOTS of time for independent projects and pursuits. I want LOTS of time for them to play independently and dream up awesome stuff with their vivid imagination. I want LOTS of opportunities to participate in group activities like co-op, swimming lessons, and karate.  I want LOTS of time for us to go out and explore new and interesting places or to simply cuddle up and read a wonderful book together.  I want LOTS of time for structured learning, especially math and writing.  Except I only have 7 days in a week and there are only about 14 or so awake hours in their day.

Truth be told we don’t get lots of time for any of these things.  At least not all at once.  I’ve had to accept that it is ok to go through seasons.  Some weeks we do a lot of structured learning.  Some weeks we are going non-stop to field trips, classes, events… etc.  Some weeks they are really excited about something they love so I let them spend a whole bunch of time exploring that.  There are weeks when the weather is just gorgeous so we dump everything, load the van, and hit the trails or the parks.  Then there are the days where we are just sucked into our read aloud and we hardly move from the couch.

I’m trying to teach myself that all of this is ok.  Despite the chaos and days where I could absolutely swear that we have gotten NOTHING worthwhile done, we do.  We really really do.  I don’t see it in the moment for I am lost amongst the trees and I cannot see the forest.  Once in a while I husband drags me for air and points it all out for me.  Then I see the growth and progress.  I see just how much they are learning.

The first miracle Jesus did that is documented in the Bible is when He took ordinary water and turned into the most extraordinary wine.  Jesus takes my ordinary efforts at educating and raising my children and He turns it all into wine.  Whatever we are doing it IS working but that is because my God is in control, not me.  I praise Him and I worship him for it every day.

Homeschooling doesn’t look pretty but my goodness we make progress every day.

Note to my husband:  Yes, the next time I have a little mini breakdown and insist that it is all a mess and we aren’t getting ANYWHERE feel free to put this post in front of me.

So there you have it.  What one family’s homeschooling day REALLY looks like.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

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