Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Secrets for Having a Successful Homeschool

This week I am going to spend a little time talking about homeschooling.

As a veteran homeschool mom and over 13 years of experience, I thought I would share with you some tips I have learned along the way. As a family, we have chosen to homeschool to provide a Christian education and worldview to our children as we shepherd and disciple them.  I know many of you are planning and preparing for the next school year or will be starting soon so I wanted to give a few words of encouragement as reminders, so let's begin:

1. Jesus Christ must be center. We need to know that the purpose of educating is not to gain accolades from the world or gaining riches or honors to impress but instead the most important thing--educating our children as godly seed that will one day bring glory to Him. He is the center of why we learn and all education stems out from there. He also is the head of our school and we bring all our needs and desires to His feet.

2. Pray, pray, pray.  What curriculum should we use? How do we schedule their day? What outside activities will we participate in?  Prayer covers all this and with this we can receive true answers that are best for our own family.

3. Be flexible.  We all love to plan and buy curriculum but we must remember to stay flexible. When I first started out I thought I had to complete workbooks from beginning to end while doing every problem--that was a rigid one-way track to burn out (and all the homeschool mothers said--amen!). Now I know better and will design a lesson around what we need to know, not what the book curriculum designers dictate that I do with my children. Also, if a book is not working for you, don't ever be afraid to toss it and replace it--you'll be glad you did!

4. Stop comparing.  It is so easy to look around at other homeschooling families and compare (everything from homeschool methods, to instruments children play, or even what the children wear!) Try not to compare!  I have seen moms get discouraged feeling as though they couldn't handle homeschooling and then eventually throwing  in the towel for this very reason. The comparison game will only get you feeling down and putting more stress and pressure on your homeschool that God did not intend or perhaps feeling smug that you have it more together than another mom.

5. Plan and yet be willing to throw your plans out the window
. I always recommend planning---and while I used be a fierce list planner as a young mom, I have since learned to plan loosely and allow God to direct our days. If a days schedule gets thrown out the window because of life--then as moms we need to truly be okay with that. Remember, there is always tomorrow. Homeschool moms need not to be so hard on themselves.

6. Laugh, cherish and have fun. I cannot emphasize this enough. Sometimes we  get so serious about homeschooling that we can forget about experiencing the joy that comes with it (wouldn't Satan just love to rob us of this?). Your children need to know they have a happy mom who is willing to have fun and laugh with her children (and sometimes at herself!). I know we will not always be joyous all the time, but we do need to remember that a smile will bless our children and encourage them. We also need to view the broader spectrum of homeschooling and enjoy the blessing of each day and each lesson.

7. Take a break.  Sometimes we need to step back and evaluate. Are we doing too much? Too little? Do we need to get back our focus and perspective? Add some fun into our school? Wise mamas need to know it is okay to take a break sometimes. It is perfectly okay to take a step back and refocus if the end result is moving several steps forward. 

8. Choose the best. Don't outdo yourself by joining every sport, club, homeschool group event, etc. Slow down! If we are always on the go, we cannot effectively homeschool or shepherd our children. Be wise were you invest your best energies or your homeschool will suffer. Our family places a special emphasis on family time at home so we can strengthen and build the relationships there.  We know that with more things pulling at our schedule will mean less time for the things that really matter to us.

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Dana said...

Thanks!! Just what I needed to hear! Sometimes I allow myself to get bogged down by all the details and I think we need to get done. I do lose myself in the drive and forget to enjoy the journey!!! I followed your link to Art.com and found the perfect picture for my 17 yr old daughter's room last week. One of our favorite movies is Pride and Prejudice. (2004) On Art.com I was able to find a neat print of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth from the movie , with a quote from Jane Austen. My daughter was THRILLED. It's a beautiful addition to her room.

~Stephanie said...

Wow. I absolutely LOVED this post! This is something all homeschooling moms, I think, can get something out of. As a newbie, I may print this and post it on my fridge :)

lisa said...

I agree 100%, June! I've been homeschooling for 17 years...and I wouldn't trade anything for the time I've spent with my blessings.
Thanks for sharing.


nikki said...

Thanks so much! Great tips! We homeschooled for the first time last year for my daughter's first grade year. I'm a planner, a lister and I can get very anxious about time. I didn't want to school on Fridays or passed June. I planned to do book units and had the WHOLE year planned. I scheduled in a few "empty" weeks in case life stepped in and we fell behind. I had it all set....and I was STRESSED to the MAX! I got very sick (trigeminal neuralgia) and basically couldn't talk passed September so my DH had to take over. I was able to put things together for him through about late Oct, but after that I could do nothing else. He wasn't interested in following my plan and did his own thing. He style is completely opposite of mine....It was TOTALLY God! I had to LET GO! It was such a HUGE lesson for me. My daughter reads so well now, probably better than she would have if I had been teaching her. I know that this year I will be much more relaxed and have more fun with it.

Do you have a devotional book you like to use with your kids?

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post. I am just getting back into homeschooling as the children went to ps last year. Some will remain there while others will return home. I am so glad to have read this today!! Blessings, Dawn

Tina said...

What great motivation! I homeschooled my oldest K-3. We struggled and I felt defeated. She is now going into 8th at our public school. Thankfully, a foundation was built and she is doing great and having a blast at the same time. We adopted our youngest daughter from Ethiopia last year. She will be entering kindergarten this fall. I plan on homeschooling her and making some adjustments along the way. Looking back, I feel I was too rigid during our homeschool years. I need reminders such as these. I'm so excited about a new outlook with homeschooling. Thanks, and keep us posted with more homeschooling motivation. By the way, I enjoy your blog! So glad God sent me here!

Kim said...

This is so helpful - thank you! I struggle frequently with comparing! I read recently a very true quote: "Comparison is the death of contentment." How true is that?!?! Thank you for your encouragement!

Homestead Living said...

Love this post! We've only been homeschooling for 5 years so far. These are some of the things that the Lord has been teaching us over the last few years.
Thanks for sharing with us,

Kayla said...

I can't tell you thank you enough for this post! We have recently decided to homeschool our oldest (3) next year instead of putting him in part-time preschool. I don't personally know any other mothers that homeschool so I will look forward to more advice from you! Thanks again!

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

This is wonderful advice for homeschoolers June and will be very much appreciated by those who are just starting out on the journey. We must have started out homeschooling our children around the same time. I've just worked out it is over 13 years and many more years to come God willing. Did you hear me say a loud amen to every single point! This is exactly the kind of advice I give to those who come to me to ask about homeschooling.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. We are in the process of foster to adopting two children and we would like to homeschool. The whole thought of what to do and where to go scares me. Although they are only 2.5 and 14 months right now - it is a concern.

Suzanne said...

Good advice! I have learned the same things over my many years too:-) I just did a review of Karen Andreola's Mother Culture CD--it is wonderful encouragement for the homeschoool Mum.

C.R. Urban Homesteader's said...

Thank you so much for this post! This will be my first year homeschooling and it is great to hear from someone with so much experience!

Jan said...

Great tips! I know that as a homeschool mommy who is starting on year two this year (and high school to boot), I sure appreciate it.

Laura said...

You are right on!
We home educated for over 20 years and now have 14 grandchildren that are educated at home. I say ' we' because my husband had the leadership and insight He wrote some wonderful lessons and taught us even if it was not school time. He was teaching Biblical Worldview even before it was used as a phrase. Times were tough for us and he worked hard to put food on the table.Christian education was not just a preference for us but a conviction and when we had to flee the state we lived in in order to continue and not lose the girls, he was our protector. Home eduction is team work. Fathers need to be encouraged--so many are overworked and so burdened with their responsibilities.If it is only the children showing the work they are doing that would be good.

Simple Homemaker said...

Thank you for your post. It was some much needed encouragement!


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