Whew…We just made it through our first few weeks of the new homeschool year. Even after 16 years–the transition from summer to school still exhausts me. So in case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed (and wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into), I want to send you a hug and let you know that it’s okay…The beginning of the year is hard. It’s exciting and fresh and hard. But you, Sweet Momma, can do hard things–and you’re doing great! And I want to share a few things to help make the make the back-to-homeschool transition a little easier…
Now–you obviously don’t need my permission…But sometimes it’s nice to hear a veteran homeschool mom tell you, “It’s okay…” So here’s my hope that you will give yourself lots of grace and permission to these five things…
1. It’s Okay to Help Your Child!
Often new homeschool moms wonder how much support is appropriate…
- How much should I be helping?
- Is it okay to write the answers for my child?
- Is it normal…my kid doesn’t get any work done if I’m not sitting right there!?
I promise–it is okay to offer lots of help and support! You’re not cheating, and your child will eventually learn to work independently!
Younger students (grades K-4) will especially need your assistance…Totally normal!
When I taught 2nd grade, I walked around the room all day. I was constantly keeping kids on track and helping them (as best as you can help individual kiddos in a class of 22). Staying on task and focusing on work is a learned skill. Your kids will 100% need help with this!
If you walk off and they have done zero things–don’t be discouraged! It’s just a sign that your child needs extra support learning to stay on task and get focused–which is normal and developmentally appropriate for most young children.
My own third grade son needs me to sit with him for almost every lesson and assignment. I might get up for very short bits (and reheat my coffee for the 17th time)–and then I praise him excessively for working independently during that 2 minute window.
I think a couple things are going on…
- He is still learning to work independently and gets distracted easily (and frustrated easily).
- He loves & needs “mom time.”
I am super okay with both of these issues…And I promise your child will not always want or need “mom time” to get his work done! He or she will eventually turn into a teenager…They happen to know everything.
So for now, if your snuggles make school more fun–snuggle up! 🙂
**In grades 5-6 your child will most likely be moving towards more independent learning. Here’s what middle school typically looks like at our house. And in all honesty–you will be amazed with the work your high school student can do!
Slowly, over time–your role will change from teacher to guide.
And Yes–Please feel free to be your child’s scribe!
Kids are all over the place developmentally when it comes to physically being able to write…My sons are both left-handed, and it seemed to make the task extra-challenging.
We don’t want to squash the love of learning and writing because of handwriting challenges.
I always think about what is the goal of my lesson? If my goal is to teach math or science–then I’m not going to let my child’s energy and brain power get drained by the extra challenge of handwriting. I simply write out math answers when I see my child getting frustrated.
Always remember the goal–are we working on math or handwriting?
If my goal is handwriting practice–I keep it short and sweet. That’s what helps keep it consistent.
Our kids have great ideas and lots to say–help them get it on paper by writing out their ideas for them. Be their scribe.
(**Julie Bogart is an amazing advocate for this type of partnership writing with our kids! Her book, The Brave Learner, is one of my most favorite homeschool books!!)
2. You Do Not Have To Do Everything!
Please feel free to make the curriculum work for you! It is okay to make it your own!
And that means it is 100% okay to do the following:
- Skip problems (or skip entire sections)! For older kids, I often have them do just the odd or just the even problems. Or we mix things up, and I assign 5 problems and they pick the last 5. And I’ve been known to skip entire “Warm-Up,” sections…
- Do a different activity…You may have a great idea for how to teach something that your curriculum is covering. Do your fun thing! Skip the book’s idea/assignment and go with your own (don’t feel like you need to do both)!!
For example…You have a great math game to teach fractions. Do the game. And feel free to skip the worksheet!
- Answer problems orally vs. writing everything. If you know that your child has already written a lot that day–discuss problems instead of writing out answers!
In my experience as a classroom teacher–we had shelves filled with “Teacher Guides.” And that is exactly how we treated them. They were guides…suggestions. Mostly they collected dust. Teachers know their goals and objectives for the year, and then they use a variety of materials to help their students learn the objectives.
As a busy mom–I love having “open-and-go” homeschool curriculum…But it’s important to remember that I have a lot of freedom in how it’s implemented.
(My free long-range planner or life.unimaginable planner can help you map out the year.)
3. Homeschooling Takes Longer at the Beginning of the Year!
Transitions are always a little tricky…Give yourself (and your kids grace) as you transition from the lazy days of summer! (And also after long holiday breaks!)
But–it’s more than that…
You are learning right along with your kiddos…
(And I’m not just talking about the fun “nature-mom” learning about bugs and stuff. Also–for the record, I wish I was a fun “nature-mom.” I’m working on that…I’m sort of a “nature-mom” wanna-be…)
Often we’re learning new curriculums. (This year I went wild and grabbed a new math, new writing, and new spelling curriculum!) There is a learning-curve when you’re implementing new curriculum–it feels stiff.
But trust me–you will wear it in. It will stretch out to fit your family perfectly.
And soon–it will be taking a lot less time to get through!
**I always try to start with just a few subjects, and then add one or two each week. Little by little we work up to our “full load” of subjects! I still need to add music and art to the mix!
4. It is okay to combine multiple-ages in the same subject!
Having my kids study the same history and science is literally the only way I stay sane. I cannot for one second imagine having to do these subjects separately with my elementary kids.
For one thing–there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
For another thing–I’m a mom. I have 100 other things to do.
And finally (and maybe most importantly)…Anything other than Reading, Writing, and Math (and Jesus at our house) is icing on the cake at the elementary level.
There is no sense in making yourself crazy over the extras…
Here’s how I’ve approached teaching multiple-ages over the years (I have had some practice with my 6 kids–ages 20 to 6!)
And last year, I saved a lot of money by not using a set curriculum at all for history or science—here’s what I did!
5. It’s okay to say NO! Keep things simple…
Alright friends, I’m talking simplify…
- Easy meals…Breakfast for dinner is my friend. Tacos. Spaghetti. We are buddies.
- Paper plates (My environmental scientist daughter doesn’t love this about me…But we all have to do what we have to do. This is my splurge in life.)
- Focus on 3 or 4 main chores & one load of laundry.
And most importantly…don’t over-schedule.
It can be tempting with all the fun co-ops, field trips, and extra-curricular activities available…
(And heaven forbid our kids be “unsocialized.”)
But I promise you–you do not need them.
That is one of my biggest regrets of my homeschool & parenting journey…busyness.
Please leave room for margin in your days, your weeks, your life…Otherwise you will burn out.
Your kids will make friends. They will get the joy of being bored and finding something to do. They will be F.I.N.E. without all the extra activity.
Trust God with what needs to go and what He wants to bring into your life…
Wishing You the Best Homeschool Year!
Here’s to a great year! I’m truly so excited for you…Homeschooling is an amazing blessing!
Please know that I’m thinking of you and praying for your journey. If I can help or encourage you in any way–feel free to reach out! It’s a blessing to share the journey with you!
P.S. I’ve shared it before…But it’s worth sharing again…My favorite verse for homeschooling (and life)
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.