As homeschoolers we wrestle with a lot of questions, issues, and challenges: planning, preparing, organizing, scheduling, juggling, managing (moods/squabbles) AND getting things done. Plus, we have the added challenge of having our kids watching us and learning from us every moment of the day!
“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” ~John Cotton Dana
As we look at a new year (or even when we look at the current year)… it starts with what should we teach? What age should they be when we cover a certain topic? What curriculum will work with our kids?
Another equally important challenge is organization: How do we manage meals, house work/chores, outside activities, doctors appointments, lessons, sports, repair work and all the other things that life throws at us?
The next set of questions has to do with scheduling: How do we fit everything into our homeschool day? What does our day-to-day schedule look like? How do we organized/accomplish things during the day? How much independence can/should the kids handle? Will they work on their own for a short period? Do they need us right with them (even as moral support or to help them move more quickly through the material)? Are we consistent – learning/reviewing from day-to-day and week to week?
Finally, there are the homeschool teaching strategies: How do my kids learn best? What activities will help them learn? What teaching strategies will challenge them, excite them, motivate them, help them learn & accomplish a lot academically? Are they working on the skills they need? (writing skills, the ability to multiply/factor quickly and easily so the kids will succeed in algebra, geometry and beyond).
Yet through all this we have to keep growing as homeschooling parents: Chances are you are going through a first… Perhaps you are homeschooling for the first time. Perhaps your kids are struggling in a new way? Perhaps you have a unique set of challenges (a new baby, a new move, a sick family member)? Perhaps you have a new pre-teen or teenager? This is the first time you are dealing with this unique set of challenges, right?! These are hard… and require us to learn and cope… while still being kind, generous, and understanding homeschool mentors and parents.
Each of these topics is huge, so I want to lead you some of the posts I’ve written over the years that may help as you think about your own homeschool life!!
Homeschooling: What should we Teach
The curriculum question is HUGE, right? There are so many amazing homeschool curriculums out there, it’s hard to know where to start! I have some free curriculum resource guides that share some of the topics/subjects we’ve covered. I also have a general plan in my head of what I want to cover over the years (so I know generally where we’re going).
- Creating a Homeschool Curriculum: Kindergarten – Grade 1
- Creating Your Homeschool Curriculum: Grades 2-3, Resource Guide
- Creating Your Homeschool Curriculum Grade 4-5 — Free Resource Guide
- Creating a Homeschool Curriculum for Grades 6-8 – Free Resource Guide
- Free Homeschool Planning Pages – for planning out your homeschool year
- Free Homeschool Planner and Discovery Journal – with checklists and planning pages for planning your day-to-day schedule and checklists I’ve made for the kids to help keep them on track
- Science in the Elementary and Middle School Year Free Science Homeschool Checklist – a list of the topics/subjects I hope to cover K-grade 8
- Here is a free printable checklist of Science Topics we covered in Early Elementary.
Get advice and input from others: I also suggest that you talk to friends both in person and online to see what curriculums have worked for them. When you can thumb through books that your friends have used, you can make better choices about what will work for your kids. So while the Story of the World (the set of 4 history books written by Susan Wise Bauer) may have worked really well for my kids when they were in elementary, they might not appeal to your kids.
Homeschool conferences also give you a chance to glance through various publisher’s materials. Used homeschool curriculum sales are also a great place to browse for materials that will work for your kids!
I was surprised by how many unique approaches there are to educating children! I’m even more fascinated by how much I agree with all of them! I have found that we take elements of most everything into our homeschool!
This post talks about some of the different homeschool styles (Classical, Montessori, Waldorf, Traditional, Online) and how we’ve woven elements of many of these into our homeschooling!
Homeschooling – Keeping Organized:
I have written SO many posts on this topic! I am constantly thinking and re-thinking how things will run best in our homeschool. I can tell you, it changes all the time!
This post talks about 7 different areas of our life we have to keep top of:
1) Organizing the homeschool space
2) Organizing each homeschool day (ie. planning each subject and keeping everything running smoothly)
3) Organizing meals
4) Organizing outside activities…. etc.
The thing is, you’ll need to figure out how to keep things organized. Will you use… This post explores many of the possibilities for keeping your homeschool organized!
A paper planner (like our 150+ page FREE Homeschool Planner)?
An online homeschool planner?
An app like Google Keep?
Workboxes? Shelves? Crates?
Keep things in your head – and just do it! (I wind up using this “method” quite a lot, especially towards the middle and end of the semester!!!)
Whatever method you settle on, just try to be consistent, but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go quite as planned!
Homeschool Teaching Strategies
We want to try to keep things fresh and interesting for our kids, right? We want them learning and growing! We want them to remember the experience and pleasure of academics… diving deep into books, having amazing experiences together, doing experiments (and failing!). We want our relationships to stay strong. We want our kids to be come independent learners. We want them to have all the skills they need to be successful adults.
That’s a tall order, right? We have a lot of adjusting to do over the years as our kids grow and mature!
In the early years, we did a lot of hands-on activities. Here are two posts you don’t want to miss, if you want to expand your teaching repertoire!
- The Ultimate Hands-On Activity List – dozens and dozens of photos of different hands-on activities we’ve done over the years!
Homeschooling Multiple Ages
I had a questions from a Homeschooling Mom who had a number of kids from 8 down to 1. In this post I gave her some pointers on where I would begin if I had that age range and were starting to homeschool for the first time… Homeschooling Multiple Ages and explains where I might start if I were homeschooling these ages for the first time.
Homeschool: The Daily Schedule
As for our daily schedule, that has varied a lot over the years! Here are a couple of posts from when my kids were younger… this will give you a glimpse into what homeschool life has been like for us from time to time!
For quite a long time, we used a homeschool checklist to help us keep on track each day. This is the version my kids used for a very long time. Each of the blocks is one week (so there are 3 on this page). Each of my kids had their own checklist page. They would color in the block under that day of the week as they finished each subject. This is in our free planner:
- Typical Day with Tots & PreKs (When the kids were 18months, 3 and 5 years old)
- Snippets of our Week for our 2 1/2 year old
- Preschool Year in Review
- Huge List of Things to Do with your 3-6 Year Old
- Snippets of our Week for our 7-year-old (when LD, my oldest was 7!)
Snippets of our Week (for our 5-yr-old)
- The Realities of Homeschooling (ages 8, 6, 4) — Gotta love the picture of the homeschool room in that post!
- Our Week’s Round-up (ages 8, 6, 4)
- What Do We Cover in our Homeschool Each Day? (Ages 9, 7, just-turned-5)
- Our Homeschool Week (Grades 3 and 5)
- What Happens in a Homeschool Day? Our Week (or 2) in Review (K, Grade 3, Grade 5)
What Does a Typical Homeschool Day Look Like? (K, 3rd, 5th)
- 10 Things I’ve Learned About Homeschooling Math (and 30 Activity Ideas)
- Homeschool Week in Review (Grades 1, 4, 6)
- Week in Review (Grade 7, 5, 2)
- What we’ve been up to – Grades 3 6 8
- Science Year in Review 2016-2017 (Grades 8, 6, 3)
- Homeschool Science Year in Review (Grades 9,7,4)
- Homeschool Life (Grades 5, 8, 10)
And here are some posts about creating a schedule and creating Homeschool Routines and Transitions (from subject to subject)
- Starting Our New Homeschool Routine (When the kids were ages 3, 5 and 8)
- Homeschool Schedule and Transitions
Learning & Growing as a Homeschool Mentor and Parent
I am always growing and learning as a homeschooler and as a parent. There is such joy in the homeschool journey, but also times of deep growth and learning.
Just as we challenge them to be better, our kids challenge US to become better too!
“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” ~John Cotton Dana
Let me leave you with these few thoughts
- Know and live your values! Are you living up to your own expectations? When we spend so much time focused on our children and their education, it’s easy to forget a) that they are watching how we treat ourselves and b) that we are imperfect people and need to work on our own weaknesses!
- Be kind to everyone around you (even at the hard parts of the day!)
- Be respectful (of their time, challenges, space).
- Be grateful.
- Don’t nag, but do challenge them!
- Instead of lecturing, discuss things with the kids.
- Don’t be hard on yourself; you’re doing the best you can.
- Talk to the kids. I mean really talk! Tell them what scares you. Be vulnerable. Be real.
- Listen to the kids. I mean really listen! Ask them good questions – What do you think? How did you come up with that? Would you like to talk about it? What can you do about this? What can I do to be a better parent?
- Make sleep a priority!
- Focus on progress, not perfection!
- Be sure your kids know how proud you are of them!
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” ~Goethe
I was inspired to write this post because of a question a reader sent me. Do you have any specific questions about homeschooling in general or about how to find things on the blog? Feel free to drop me an email any time! ~Liesl
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Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl
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