Words of encouragement for the homeschool mom
That moment when you realize that the summer season has flown by…and you desperately need to plan for your upcoming school year. Yes, I feel your stress. Our summer was filled with the passing of my father in law, a new daughter-in-love, and Lily…our beautiful new grandbaby. Let’s not forget Church Youth Camp, 4H Farm Fair, baby showers, bridal showers and holding down a full-time job. But I have learned in my 20 plus years of homeschooling that life will roll onward. That our homeschool will survive if I don’t have everything planned down to the minute. So here are some words of encouragement for the new homeschool mom, the tired and stressed mom, and the extremely motivated mom (I’ve experienced it all!).
Grab a cup of coffee, a pen, a notepad, and your husband (preferable when the kiddos are in bed). Write out the reasons that you are choosing to journey down the road of homeschooling. This is VITAL!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Prov. 29:18
People homeschool for many reasons. For Walter and I we felt that God spoke clearly to our hearts that this was His plan for our family. Knowing that He called us to walk this road has kept us focused when others were critical, the children uncooperative, and life was out of control.
Families quit homeschooling because their vision is blurred and they are not homeschooling for the right reasons.
Here are some observations I have made of reasons why some people homeschool
Some parents are motivated to homeschool out of pride. “I’ll show them” OR “I’ll have the smartest kids.” This is exhausting! Burn out is ahead.
Everyone else is doing it
The classic "My friends all homeschool so I should too". Wrong! Homeschooling isn't for everyone. You will soon find that out if the only reason you are doing it is to fit in.
Public school phobias
Out of fear of public school. You need to trust God for His plan for your family. Homeschooling takes courage!
Then, together, make a list of goals vs desires. I find that most homeschool moms have very lofty desires. We all want our children to LOVE homeschooling, excel academically, work diligently with a smile and complete all school work…all while the house stays fresh and clean. If that is your desire be prepared to be disappointed.
Instead, let me share some realistic goals:
Raising your children to love the Lord
Our desire is for our children to have a relationship with the Lord, so our goal is to live out the Gospel and plant the seed of God’s Word into their hearts.
Relationship over academics.
Oh, how hard this can be for me. I am so goal oriented. I want the math book completed! But God always reminds me that a relationship with my children is more important than my schedule. I often take a deep breath, shut my calendar, and just focus on the child in front of me. Our children need us to give them our full attention. For us busy moms this can be a challenge!
“Wherever you are, be all there.” Jim Elliot
God is in control, not you.
You might need to repeat that again. Some families start this long journey thinking that homeschooling will provide them with some sort of magic formula for raising perfect children. Although we have an opportunity to share our faith, teach from a Christian world view, and start our morning in God’s Word, our children will ultimately have to make the decision to serve Christ for themselves. We can only plant the seeds….
Teach Godly character
Just remember to have some inner reflection and evaluation. Are you living out Godly character in front of your children? (ouch!)
Find a a good support group
Surround yourself with like-minded families. This is our number one reason we started a homeschool co-op group (blog coming soon on how to co-op). Click here to join our parenting & homeschooling community.
Keep it simple
Focus on the basics…reading, writing and arithmetic. If they are strong in these areas, they can learn anything!
Now that you have a foundation you can begin to build
Oh the curriculum choices we are blessed to have at our fingertips! When I began this journey there was no internet and very few places sold homeschool textbooks. I would attend the book sale at our local Christian School where they would sell their used text books. I used my library card and created my own unit studies. I am amazed at how the homeschool movement has exploded with yearly conventions, amazing curriculum, online class options, and so much more. So where does one begin when planning out a new homeschool year?
Our family is very active in the Homegrown Homeschool Co-Op. Every year our group offers science classes for all ages. For instance, this year Caleb will take Apologia Biology. Victoria’s science class will use General Science 1 by Masterbooks. Therefore, when planning my shopping list I look at our co-op classes and what books are required. Once those classes are crossed off my list I then return to our goals. What curriculum choices line up with our family goals for the upcoming school year?
Here are a few of our favorite curriculums
Things to consider when looking for a curriculum
Before you shock your husband with the cost of all those “must have” books let’s think about a few things…
New and popular doesn't always mean it is right for you
Just because it’s new and hot on the market doesn’t mean it will work for you and your student. I find that sometimes it’s easier to stick with something that you don’t have to relearn the “how to” of teaching. For example, I use the Christian Light Learning to Read program. It’s easy to teach, cost effective, and an excellent reading program. I don’t want to have to learn how to use another reading program.
What does your homeschool year look like?
For us, each year tends to be different. This means that I need to plan to make our road less bumpy on our journey. During those years when new babies were arriving (quite frequently) I had to keep to the basics. I wanted my children to be strong in reading, math, and writing. Those subjects we did daily. I would group them all together for history and science-allowing better use of my time. We often do history for two days and science for two days.
How time consuming is the curriculum you are choosing?
I personally don’t have time to take two hours a day on creating history lapbooks, clean the mess, and still get to the basics. That is why our co-op time is so important to me. Our teachers do all the fun stuff so we moms can focus on the basics at home. It’s a win-win situation!
What is my budget?
You don’t have to break the bank just to homeschool your children. Purchase your must haves…math. As for everything else, I have had years where all we used was our library card. Buy used textbooks online, barter with other homeschool families, or have yard sale to purchase your books. Be creative! If you are looking for a good math program, I highly recommend CTCMath.
Let’s talk about schedules
I am a calendar girl. I love when the new school year calendars are put on the shelves-you know, the ones that go from July to the next July. I immediately make my purchase and begin filling in all our co-op days, soccer games, church events, 4H activities, and field trips…all in pencil of course. But even with the most laid out plans can be interrupted.
Here are a few secrets to surviving those crazy moments
Make time for God
Have your own time with the Lord-before the rush-before anything else. It will do wonders for your mental health and keep you focused…even when life begins to unravel.
Prepare for the day
Before you start your day, look over your calendar and your schedule for the day. I know it sounds crazy but knowing what my days looks like helps me stay focused and calm.
Set Goals for the day
Set realistic time frames and expectations. It’s simply not possible to get everything done everyday. We don’t do all subjects daily. And your house will not be spotless.
Be mindful of your schedule
Don’t over-schedule. For example, during soccer season we don’t take any outside classes. During the cold winter months we often take an art or music class. Remember, spending time as a family is important too!
Get a routine down
Children thrive with consistency and behave better when they know that to expect. It’s been my experience that a good morning routine sets the pace for your entire day. Here is our family routine…
7:30 am - All children up and getting ready for the day. They set own alarm clock, make beds, complete morning chores and make own breakfast.
I work nights and don’t get to bed until around 4am. Therefore, I sleep until 9:00. While I have my morning coffee and some quiet time with the Lord the children are getting ready for the day.
9:30 am - We grab our morning tea and our bibles and gather in the living room for our bible and prayer time. This is when we use the character booklets from Institute in Basic Life Principles.
10:00 am - We begin our school work for the day.
Except for Fridays, when we attend co-op, I try to adhere to a good schedule. I find that we can’t be on the go all the time or nothing gets accomplished. Of course, schedules are thrown out the window for a good field trip!
“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently.” A morning routine will save your life…
So now you have a vision, you have set goals and desires, your have laid a foundation and chosen your curriculum. You bought a calendar, wrote a generalized schedule, and planned a morning routine. Now BREATHE. You will always wonder “Am I doing enough?” Your house will not look like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. There will be days that you question your sanity for starting on this journey. But give yourself some grace. Stop placing unrealistic expectations on yourself and your family. Stop neglecting your marriage and your health. You can do this!
“I still remember the days I prayed for the things have now.”
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Are you ready for the upcoming school year? How do you prepare for each school year? Let me know in the comment section below or in our Homeschooling Forum!
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