The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and it’s a great time to reflect on things that have worked well and things you might want to tweak for next year. As a homeschooling mom of two boys, we have had some great successes and more than enough flops, but there are a few things that I really don’t think I would have made it without.
So, I’m excited to share my list of 5 things I can’t imagine homeschooling without! Now, this list is really two-fold. It’s an opportunity to express incredible gratitude to the people and resources we’ve been given, but I also hope it will give you some insight into things that will make your homeschooling experience easier – especially if it’s something you’re thinking about trying next year.
So, here goes….
A Community of Other Homeschooling Families
I really can’t imagine trying to do this on my own. And as I talked to other homeschooling moms, this was consistently one of the top things on their lists. On days when I’m completely exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling like I’ve failed the kids, being able to talk to, be encouraged by, and simply be reminded that you’re not alone by these other mommas always re-energizes me. Not only has this community blessed me, but it has given my kids countless opportunities to develop friendships, participate in large group activities, and grow in their social and problem-solving skills. We attend a weekly co-op with 9 other families (more on this coming soon!), and it is truly the highlight of our week! I can NOT imagine trying to tackle this alone, and having other homeschooling families nearby has made a tremendous difference.
So, if you’re thinking about homeschooling, look for ways to connect. Are there other families in your community who are currently or will be homeschooling? What are some ways you can connect with them? Look into starting a co-op of your own (again, more specifics on this will be coming soon). Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – it’s well worth the effort!
Our Educational Supervisor/Teacher
We homeschool through a public charter school, specifically designed for homeschool families. Each family is assigned a personalized learning teacher who helps get your curriculum, checks in on each student’s progress, helps parents with planning and learning strategies, and takes care of ALL the paperwork/legal side of things. This is such a huge blessing! I don’t have to worry about making sure everything is documented and submitted to the state correctly. She totally takes care of all of it – gathering the information and materials she needs at our meetings. Furthermore, she conducts assessments throughout the year (so it’s not just Mom doing it), to help ensure we’re on track and give advice on things we can work on.
If you’re looking into homeschooling, research what is available in your area. Is there a school you can go through? What resources and/or services can they provide? What kind of assistance will you receive? Homeschooling is so much more than just doing some activities with your kids at home, so the more help you can receive, the easier the process will be.
A Supportive Spouse
Being a homeschool mom is a pretty thankless job. I certainly get “paid” in plenty of hugs, kisses, and smiles, but when it comes to verbal affirmation for the job I’m doing, it’s pretty few and far between. It’s primarily because no one else sees the time, effort, and energy I’m pouring into this day in and day out. However, the one person who does see it is my husband. He sees the planning, the progress the kids are making, the projects, the organization, and coordination, and he sees me do it day after day. He’s the one who takes the kids to the park just because he knows I need a break. He’s the one who cleans up after dinner because he knows I’ve been “on” all day. And he’s the one who affirms and encourages me when I feel like giving up. He does this because he knows the sacrifice I’m making to homeschool our kids. And I know I couldn’t do it without him.
So, if you’re thinking homeschool may be in your future, take plenty of time to discuss this with your spouse. Ask the tough questions to ensure you’re on the same page. Now, that’s not to say you can’t homeschool if you’re a single parent, but if you are married, you want this to be a joint decision. Because if it’s not, it will be incredibly divisive.
A Daily/Weekly Routine
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Part of the benefit of being a homeschool family is the flexibility you have in your schedule. Flexibility, yes, total freedom, no. You still have material you need to cover, there are still skills students need to practice consistently, and it’s just not going to get done if you don’t establish some type of daily and weekly routine. It doesn’t need to be planned to the minute, but having a game plan for each day of the week makes a tremendous difference. Ours is simple – we have a consistent start time, we almost always begin with a song or two, followed by Bible. We then move on to language arts before having a snack and brain break time. We then move on to math, followed by history, science, art, or other activity. Now, this schedule varies a bit day to day (like on the days we have our co-op), but for the most part, the boys know what our school day looks like – and it definitely helps me on the planning end. It’s amazing how well kids respond to routine, and I’m so thankful other homeschool moms taught me about the importance of this consistency early on!
So, make a game plan. Decide how often and on what days you need to teach each subject (for example, we don’t hit science every day, but language arts we do). Think about how long you’ll need for each subject – and don’t forget to include brain and movement breaks! Then, put together a tentative schedule for your week. Know that there will be some flex in it, but bringing some structure into your week will help everything go more smoothly. And by the way, don’t feel like you need to go from 8am-3pm because that’s what your local school is doing. Do what works for your family, especially if you’ve got younger kiddos.
Peace for the Storms
Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, is my faith in Christ. Homeschooling is hard – much more of a sacrifice than I ever imagined. Honestly, there have been days when I just want to give up. However, my faith in the Lord has given me strength, wisdom, hope, encouragement, and purpose as each day I strive to fulfill what we believe He has called our family to do. Not only does He bring peace to the storm and strength to the weak, but Jesus is the ultimate example of selflessness, sacrifice, and love. And it is his example I seek to follow.
While the above five things are not any type of curriculum, school supply, or even organizational system, I can’t imagine homeschooling without them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts as well! What are your must-haves for homeschooling? Leave a comment below – I’d love to connect with you!