Homeschooling is a lot of work. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of structure and activities. We’re human and so, we can become frustrated with what is or isn’t happening with our hopes and plans. Perhaps too many perfect homeschools were viewed on social media causing unhealthy comparisons.
Whenever I feel like homeschooling is trying to take over rather than be led by us, I take some time to remember a few important points in order to refocus. I want to be sure that we’re leading our homeschool, rather than the reverse.
10 Things I Try to Remember While Homeschooling:
10. Our homeschool won’t look like anyone else’s.
When we began homeschooling, I took a great deal of time researching and reflecting.
I read some more.
There were definitely parts of our schooling adventure that I recognized in others’ experiences. However, every family is unique! There’s no way that what is going on in one homeschool will look the same in every other home. It certainly wasn’t that way in ours.
9. How we learn matters.
I can have the best reviewed, most loved homeschool curriculum in my hands, but if it doesn’t fit with how my children learn, it is absolutely useless.
I read through reviews and I look over new resources, especially if I notice a loss of energy in our previous year’s studies or a need for something new. But I’ve also tried enough resources to know that trying to use a curriculum just because it worked for someone else is not the best way to choose materials.
We enjoy games! So, I try to include them in our day as much as possible. Games lend themselves so naturally to creating excitement about learning, especially if you don’t tell the kids that they’re learning.
My kids love to talk. Sometimes talking through a topic is the best way to learn something! We usually have some sort of resource or a computer nearby to help out if we have a question about something we’re talking about. How great is that, finding the answers we don’t know because we want to know them? We’re also finding out how to learn by doing this, discovering the avenues available to guide us in our search for answers.
8. Reading! Lots of reading expands the mind in many, many ways.
Every time you pick up a book you are exposed to another person’s ideas. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, the book is written from the author’s perspective. What wonderful learning experiences come from reading together and sharing each of our points of view on these topics. It expands the mind. It welcomes lively discussion. And it’s enjoyable.
7. Exploring the world outside is learning.
Learning is not exclusive to the inside of our home. There’s an amazing world out there filled with more things than we can ever hope to know. So, it’s an excellent idea for us to step out and grab a piece of that knowledge from wherever it comes: the beach, the grocery store, the movies, visiting friends, a tour, the playground, the backyard, the library, a whole world…. Get outside without the guilt. When we return home, the conversations are great! We have new ideas and observations to share. It’s awesome to hear what’s been learned while we’ve been out and about.
6. Too many activities are too much for us.
We’re still trying to find that right balance of how many activities and outings are best for our combined personalities. The types of activities have a hand in that decision as well. Some years we seem to be constantly on the go, while others I worry that we’re not “going” enough. I believe that I’m almost at the point where I can recognize what season each of us is in, and how to best schedule our time. Sometimes we need more activities. Other times we just need time to explore on our own and relax.
5. Boxed curriculum is not for us.
There have been rough years when I would have loved nothing more than to pull that curriculum off of the shelf, gather up the materials assigned, and go. That’s yet to happen, despite how interesting I think some of them are. The individual personalities of this household just aren’t geared that way. We’ve been able to use components from curriculum sets, but success for us means gathering up our own materials and piecing them together to get the right fit.
4. Playing games is an awesome way to learn.
Yes, I’m mentioning this again as its own category! There are so many learning opportunities in game play. Playing in a group supports social, emotional and academic growth. And they’re fun! Use games whenever possible. Gameschooling is a great way to learn!
3. Enjoy the kids.
The silliness, the laughter, working together, supporting each other, it’s all important. Notice all those precious and happy moments, they’re great to think back upon on those difficult days.
Enjoying one another’s company is NEVER a waste of time.
2. We’re never behind.
We all get those glimpses into the lives of others, whether through the internet or at family gatherings. We hear what other children are doing or learning. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s great to be able to share. Everyone deserves a chance to shine.
It’s what we do with that information next that can cause problems. My children are individuals. They have strengths and weaknesses, as we all do. There are topics they struggle with, and there are others they breeze through. For those areas that are challenging, sometimes they need more time to fully grasp the material, or they need to return to it at a later date. And do you know what? That’s okay.
I need to remember that there’s no set time by which they need to understand a topic. It doesn’t matter how much I may wish that they understand something. They will quite simply get it when they’re ready, regardless of anyone else’s timetable.
1. Be Mom, first and always.
Sometimes I find myself in my teacher brain. It can be a tough habit to break. The problem is my teacher brain is a professional role. As a teacher, in a classroom, there would be nothing wrong with that. But I’m not in a classroom. I’m in my home – our home. That’s an important distinction.
My kids need to know that they always come first, not the work, not the academics, just them. I need to remember that providing comfort doesn’t come second to completing an assignment. We’re raising people, and that doesn’t fit into an easily scheduled box. They are learning at home, so they’re not going to act the same as they would in a different setting. Their feelings, if we’re lucky, are going to be present and not hidden until some time after school. And that’s a good thing. Their emotions, growing pains, concerns, the whole enchilada, are all part of this learning thing, and as Mom, my priority is always the child over the work.
It’s always a good idea to periodically reflect on our personal reasons for homeschooling. It helps when trying to keep everything in perspective.
What helps you keep perspective in your home?