50 Lessons I’m learning as a Homeschooling Mom
1. FILL your house with books. I’m talking encyclopedias, fiction, non-fiction, drawing, art, poetry, picture…something for everyone. Keep these books in several different rooms in your house and where your kids can easily reach them.
2. Stock up on your art and school supplies in August when the stores are having their back to school sales. Invest in a high quality stapler and hole punch. Buy a different colored clipboard for each child.
3. Purchase a high quality printer. My life got significantly easier after my husband bought us a color laser printer with wifi.
4. You don’t have to start your day at 8:00 a.m. Some kids need “down time” before school begins.
5. Homeschooling will take significantly less time than public schooling. Depending on age, don’t be surprised if you can get a full day’s work done in 2 to 4 hours.
6. Be proactive about burn out. Give your child a short break before they become overwhelmed. (This counts for you too)!
7. Switch up your subject schedule. You don’t need to teach everything in the same order everyday.
8. Move around! Try having school in different areas of the house. (My daughter loves when we do the reading lesson on the bed, math outside in warmer weather, etc.).
9. Save the “fun” activities for last. Knowing that you have a craft or cooking project to conclude the day is a great motivator!
10. If you feel like you have too many subjects to teach, try splitting things like science and social studies up by semester.
11. Pajama days are completely okay. The colder the weather outside, the more acceptable they become!
12. Don’t bother changing into nice clothes until the art lesson is over. (This applies to both teachers and students).
13. Washable markers are the only acceptable kind of markers if you have children under five years old in your house.
14. Keep an overall goal of what you want to teach/achieve every month, but don’t plan lessons too many days ahead. Leave yourself some wiggle room to reteach, branch out on interesting topics, and make up for unplanned interruptions.
15. Write in your lesson plan book in PENCIL!
16. Keep a set of review worksheets handy that children can work on during unplanned interruptions.
17. Turn your phone on vibrate during reading lessons. Don’t have snacks or chewing gum available during read alouds.
18. Younger siblings will drastically affect time spent on everything. Be prepared with activities that toddlers can keep busy with during necessary one-on-one time with the older child. Suggestions include: train table, matchbox cars, coloring pages, play doh, kinetic sand, a sink filled with water and bath toys, puzzles, white board with erasable markers, chalkboard, magna doodle, rubber stamps, do-a-dots, big empty cardboard boxes.
19. Younger kids will want to sit in on older kids’ lessons, and vice-versa. Try to extend the lesson to the other child. (When I’m teaching my two year old the alphabet letters, I have my six year old spell out the words we come up with on separate paper).
20. Have your children read to each other.
21. Rewards do not create entitled children. In fact, they are an excellent motivator. Just DON’T OVERUSE them. Keep mini M&Ms, skittles, craisins, yogurt raisins, stickers, stamps, tally charts, free ice cream certificates, and whatever else motivates your children handy.
22. Everything can become a learning opportunity. Grocery shopping, doctor visits, mapping out car rides, nature hikes…Math, reading, and science are everywhere!
23. Backyard chickens make a great science project and gateway for responsibility. Plus, chasing down escaped chickens is a fun physical education exercise.
24. iPads and similar devices are not evil! They can be a great learning tool, reward, and distraction when necessary.
25. MONITOR what your children are doing on their iPads. Just because they are given some device time, doesn’t mean that they get to spend it playing candy crush, boom beach, or watching YouTube kids commercials.
26. Not all apps are created equally! (For example, design apps like Minecraft can be a great learning tool and actually require higher level reasoning skills).
27. It doesn’t matter how your voice sounds; kids love it when the teacher sings along.
28. Show off impressive work, not just on the refrigerator. (I often use painter’s tape to showcase pieces in our dining and living rooms).
29. Don’t ever downplay your child’s talents. There is no shame in being a proud advocate of your gifted child.
30. Only you know what is best for your child. That curriculum you just love but others love to hate? If it works for your family, it doesn’t matter what others think.
31. Common core aligned is not the same as common core curriculum. Aligned simply means that the same topics and developmental skills are being taught. Curriculum refers to the teaching methods used to get there.
32. Homeschooled children are often working in more than one grade level. Ignore the odd looks when your child can’t specifically tell someone what grade they are in.
33. If you ever get worried about your children being at level with their public school peers, go to your local school district’s website. Many schools have a curriculum map online that tells you exactly what skills are being covered and what topics are being taught every month.
34. Read and review in the summer, ALL SUMMER LONG! Setting aside fifteen minutes a day for reading, fifteen minutes for some math review, writing in a journal a couple times a week…All of these activities prevent the summer slide where kids can lose months of previous learning.
35. Try not to come off too strong to non-homeschoolers. We all know the benefits of homeschooling, but shoving the statistics down people’s throats is a big turn off.
36. Some parents do not have the patience, teaching style, finances, desire, etc. to homeschool. This is okay. This is why we have public schools!
37. You will be shocked at the people in your life who full-on support your homeschooling endeavors. You will also be shocked at the people who don’t.
38. You don’t need to defend your teaching methods. Your successes will speak for themselves.
39. You don’t need a teaching degree to be a homeschooler. (That being said, my under and graduate degrees in education, plus my years spent in the classroom, have helped prepare me for the amazing job of teaching my own children). Instead of judging people without an educational background, offer a helping hand and be open to their suggestions as well.
40. Every homeschooling family looks different. Some parents are completely involved with their children and direct most of the lessons. Others rely on computer programs and distant learning. Some families are a mix of both, and others rely more on life experiences in an unschooling environment. Just look online, and you will find a sea of parents searching for the best fit for their family. There is no one-size-fits-all.
41. Use praise words other than “good job” to your children. Be specific. For example, “Wow! Your cursive writing is getting neater every time I watch you practice.” “You learned those multiplication facts already? Your memory is awesome!” “I can tell you’ve been playing your piano songs more this week. The notes are coming out so smoothly!”
42. Don’t make a big deal about tests. Explain that tests are for finding out what we may need to learn again or how we could approach/teach things differently.
43. You don’t need to test for every subject. (One of my favorite examples is the Sequential Spelling program).
44. Lapbooks are awesome. If you can’t find one you like online, create your own.
45. Multitask, multitask, multitask! Do household chores like laundry during independent work. Prepare lessons on an iPad while exercising. You get the idea…
46. As much as you feel like you need a break when your spouse gets home from work, give them a break before unloading your children on them.
47. You should be proud of your “socially odd” children. The fact that they can hold conversations with people of all ages, greet other kids on the playground, and display a special self-confidence is a gift.
48. One day you will threaten to send your child to public school if they don’t behave, do their work, etc. However, NEVER use this technique to put constant fear into your child. It should only be pulled out when absolutely necessary.
49. You gave up A LOT to become a homeschooling parent. Don’t ever feel lesser of yourself for making the ultimate sacrifice for your family.
50. Remember to pray every day for God to lead your homeschooling endeavors. Ask for His wisdom, discernment, and words to speak through you.