After 18 years, I’ve noticed homeschool success boils down to this: Consistency & Margin. When either of these pieces are missing from my life–I feel the ramifications: frustration, overwhelm, resentment, guilt, fatigue (just to name a few)! But we can avoid all those common homeschool pitfalls! Homeschooling can be a blessing and lifestyle that brings joy to YOUR life and your family. Consistency and margin are key–here’s how:
Homeschooling With Consistency:
Good news for all of us mommas who hate schedules and like to sleep in…Consistency isn’t about a schedule!
Consistency is about rhythm, habits, and routines.
How Exactly Does Consistency Look in Our Homeschool:
- I teach in blocks of time–usually the same order every day. (More details about this in a moment).
- My kids practice hard things in SMALL increments…timers are my best friend! So instead of insisting an entire handwriting or copywork page is finished–I ask for their best work for 5 minutes.
- Stop lessons at 20 minutes–especially for early elementary kids! (Most of my curriculum states that the lesson should not go for longer than 20 minutes–but how often have I kept pushing through for 35-40 minutes?! This only leads to burn-out! It’s okay to spread a lesson out over several days!)
- I re-evaluate homeschool goals every 6 weeks. What are we doing well? Is there a subject the kids really excited about? What can I add that will inspire curiosity? Do any skills need more attention?
- DO NOT double up on lessons when I feel “behind”! This is such a temptation for homeschool moms! Don’t do it! Even when you’ve taken some time for a family vacation or a field trip! Or the new baby came…or Grandma came over…Or EVER!
Learning is the goal–our kids are always learning. Trying to cram double the information into our kiddos only leads to frustration…You are not behind.
- And finally: My priorities match our routine…
I put Bible Study at the beginning of the day in our morning block of time–or it doesn’t get done.
My 4th grade son needs to improve his writing skills. It’s my number one goal for him this year. So all of the writing-based language arts (writing, spelling, handwriting) are usually the first things we work on together.
**Side note–I am really enjoying his new writing curriculum, Write Shop. I love all the modeling and conversations built into the curriculum! Grammar is very gently included–and that’s plenty for him at this stage. He’s also using, All About Spelling & Handwriting Without Tears, Cursive Handwriting and for a little extra fun—Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Homework: Cursive Writing Practice.
My twin first graders are learning to read–so this is my main goal for them. Normally, the first lesson they do with me is reading (I’m obsessed with All About Reading–-one of my top curriculum pics and best homeschool purchases EVER.
Consistency in Personal Habits:
If you’ve homeschooled for a hot second, then you know that everything in your life spills into your homeschool (and vice versa)!
I begin feeling overwhelmed and have difficulty focusing when the house is a mess–and I’m not naturally a great housekeeper! I’ve had to get really intentional and seek help in this area!
Cue the amazing FlyLady! I discovered her over 15 years ago, and she’s made all the difference in how I approach housework! I can’t imagine where I’d be without her–she’s been a huge blessing in my life!
Because of her habits and teachings–I’ve been able to practice consistency in this challenging area of my life!
Here’s how I use her program (which is totally free)!
Making time to get into God’s Word…time for prayer…Nothing else will impact your life and your homeschool more.
This was not always natural or normal for me!
I didn’t even own a personal Bible until I was about 30–I just had a giant, fancy gold-trimmed Bible from my 8th grade confirmation. I think it weighs 15 pounds.
It’s never too late to start studying the Bible or drawing close to God–He’s always near and waiting for us!
It’s amazing how God has used homeschooling and parenting to change me and draw me closer to Him…I’m so thankful.
But–we’re busy mommas…How do we make the time?
For me–it’s the first thing I do when I get downstairs in the morning. No chores, no homeschool, no work.
It doesn’t matter when I get up or if the kids are already up…
I may get them a toaster waffle and some milk (secret: we actually do a lot of pop tarts for breakfast at our house), pour myself some coffee–and then sit my booty in a chair with my bible, a journal, and some sort of study or devotional.
Meanwhile my kids just play, make art, or watch TV–they slowly ease into their day while I’m studying and praying.
I hope my kids see how important my morning time with God is–and that eventually, it will be an important habit and part of their lives too…
Bible Study & Prayer Resources:
- I LOVE the free Bible study app: First 5 . It’s run through Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries. The study is non-denominational–and beautifully welcomes all Christians through its line-by-line study of books in the Bible.
- I also love the devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
- If you need some ideas for prayer–here’s my post to get you started!
Margin–Consistency’s Best Friend
I find it a lot harder to be consistent when my calendar and daily to-do list is packed.
We NEED margin in order to be consistent in the important areas of our lives!
How does that look in our homeschool and life?
- Stop over-scheduling. Say no to the extra activities…
**Remember–you don’t need to prove that your kids are socialized by enrolling them in every co-op and class under the sun! I promise they are just fine! I have made the mistake of over-scheduling…and suddenly all the freedom of homeschooling is lost.
**AND–you are a busy homeschool mom! Don’t feel like because you are home–that means you are available to babysit, run the Sunday School, sew all the costumes for the recital…Just say no–you don’t owe anyone an explanation–this was a hard lesson for me to learn.
- Simplify your homeschool day…It’s a blessing–there are so many amazing homeschool resources and curriculum options available to us…However we only have so many hours in a day.
We can’t do it all. If you’re struggling to get all the homeschool lessons done–maybe you’re trying to do too much. Is there overlap in what your kids are doing?
Here are some ideas to help you simplify:
How to Teach History Without a Curriculum
Also…If you haven’t read Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie–you absolutely need to! Her message of homeschooling with grace is exactly what our hearts need! (I reread it at least once a year!)
Here are signs we may be lacking margin:
- Grumpy attitude
- No time for family life…cooking and eating meals together!
- No time for exercise and personal care–drinking enough water, showers, etc…
Sometimes we have to say no to good things in order to make room for more margin in our lives.
It has helped to view my calling as a homeschool mom as a season of life…
Some things I’d like to do–are simply for another season…
This is especially true if you are homeschooling with babies or toddlers! Please give yourself grace and the gift of margin.
Consistency + Margin = Homeschool Happiness
So truly it’s all about giving yourself grace–giving your kids grace…
And diligently doing the hard things–often in small increments, which leads to significant growth…
Leaning into the rhythm of life–not pushing but being present…
And finally, doing less–but doing it with love, joy, and excellence.
My prayer is that you’re encouraged today–that you’re able to live and embrace the the joy of homeschooling!