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!!
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).
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!
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!
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!
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.
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:
And here are some posts about creating a schedule and creating Homeschool Routines and Transitions (from subject to subject)
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
“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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