No matter where you are in your school year, here are seven timeless truths to remember that will help you be a rock star homeschool mom. 🙂
1. Academics are important – but relationships are more important.
Always remember that the child is more important than the work. I know you agree, in theory… but sometimes when one is correcting a wiggly, uncooperative kid – for the fourth time in an hour – it’s hard to remember. Put away the math book. Stop and talk for a while with your child and try to determine what is going on in his head instead of just lowering the boom.
In the same vein, relationships with siblings are more important than the work. In our house it’s not permissible for siblings to fight and tear each other down physically or verbally. Stop and referee, require apologies and make things right before trying to get back to work.
One more relationship to talk about – the one between you and your husband. Don’t put that on the back burner for 15 years while you teach school. It is SO easy for us to put the kids before our marriage, and when we do so we are not doing ourselves or our children any favors.
2. Don’t stress over things you can’t control.
Allow a little margin in your life. I say this from experience! I’m the Queen of Overcommitment. As soon as you squeeze too many responsibilities on your plate, the most inconsequential thing can put you into a tailspin – and everyone in your path suffers. Uh huh. You can relate. When you homeschool there are things to which you need to say “no.” Beneficial things. Fun things. Learn to say no. If you have trouble with this, learn not to commit without talking with your husband about it first. (Then you can blame it on him when you say no.) Just kidding. =D
3. Worry about the big things and let the little things take care of themselves.
You are not going to teach them everything they need to know and they certainly are not going to remember everything you teach them. In my view the important things are:
- Where are are your children in terms of their spiritual life? This is of utmost importance in our home. If it is in yours, too, is it reflected in your daily conversation and how you spend your time? You might even want to create a homeschooling plan that reflects this priority.
- Teach your kids how to discipline their minds to listen, to learn and to find information on their own.
- Train them to own their own work, manage their own belongings (including school supplies) and their own spaces.
- Give your children opportunities to serve others and rub shoulders with people of all ages.
- Teach them to communicate with others politely, tactfully and kindly.
Let me ask you — what do you remember about what you learned in school (the academic part, I mean)? If you are like most of us, you don’t remember much! What you do remember is what engaged your interest. The projects you worked on, research you did, some of the papers you wrote. Which leads me to number 4:
4. Study your children; identify their passions and how they learn best.
What do they enjoy the most? What do they do in their play time? What grabs their attention? What do they talk about? What do they like to read or learn about in their free time? What do they learn quickly and easily? Do they automatically grab a book or search the Internet to learn something? Do they like to listen to music? Do they like to talk about what they are learning? Do they frequently move around a lot while they are learning something? Do they like drama? Art? Music? Playing with Lego blocks? Educate yourself about learning styles and try to identify yours and theirs.
5. Cultivate a love for learning.
The best way to do this is to be an enthusiastic learner yourself. Generate some excitement about learning new things. READ. Let them see you read. Provide lots of stimulating reading material – at or below your children’s reading level. Let them choose whatever they want to read for a daily fun-reading time. (Shh- this will also improve their reading comprehension and fluency, but don’t tell them.) This is not a school thing, it is a fun thing. (It is all in the marketing.) Go to the library frequently. Choose to buy magazine subscriptions in the areas of your child’s interests for Christmas and birthdays. Talk about what you are learning. Regularly go around the table at dinner telling each other about the most interesting or surprising thing you learned that day.
6. Take the time to be prepared.
You don’t always have to be perfectly organized and prepared to homeschool. BUT, it make school much easier if you make an effort to be ready. If you are prepared, you are more confident. If you have confidence in yourself, your children will have more confidence in you as their teacher. This is especially important if you have recently taken your child out of public or private school. Strategies that help:
- Put your things away and teach your kids to do the same. (See #3)
- Avoid clutter like the plague.
- Take time to prepare lessons in advance. Ask yourself — do I understand this? Do I need to look anything up first? Do I have the supplies I need? Have I allowed enough time for this lesson? What are the younger ones going to do while I teach this?
- Take an occasional “teacher work day” and spend some concentrated time during holiday/summer breaks to get ready for school
- Ask your husband or a friend to take the kids for a few hours a week so you can plan and prepare for the next week.
7. Don’t try to be a friend to your kids. They need you to be a parent first.
I’m not suggesting that you be an authoritarian or dictator, or that you shouldn’t worry about ‘getting along’ with your children. I’m just recommending that you be a parent first – set clear expectations of what is acceptable behavior in your home and how children are going to behave when school is in session. When you assign school work, make sure your children understand exactly what you expect. Be consistent with your discipline. Expect children to always be respectful to you and other adults. You are laying a foundation for them to be secure, for school to be successful and for friendship as they become older.
Do any of these particularly resonate with you this year? Would you add anything else to my list?