Homeschooling Tips: 5 Sanity Saving Pieces of Advice

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Image via Flickr/jimmiehomeschoolmom

I’ve been blessed with 3 kids; an average learning student, an above average learner that needed to be challenged, and a child with dyslexia that needed specialized support to overcome learning challenges. With such a wide variety of needs among my children, I decided homeschooling them was the best option.

Becoming the primary educator for your family can seem overwhelming at times, but it’s a rewarding lifestyle if you approach it the right way. Here are my 5 top tips to being effective, keeping your sanity, and raising well-rounded children while homeschooling.

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Image via Flickr/jimmiehomeschoolmom

Tip #1 Tailor to your child’s learning style

My son had a hard time memorizing his multiplication tables. Flashcards and charts weren’t working because he’s not a visual learner. He learns best through auditory and kinesthetic movement, so I bought a CD with math songs on it for him to listen to. Then I spread his flashcards on the ground and had him leap frog from one card to the next, shouting out the answer as he went. He learned them because I was utilizing his natural abilities.

Also, don’t try to replicate a classroom with desks and regimented learning environment. My kids thrived when they got to sit on the couch to read or spread out on the floor to work on a project. We all learn best when we are comfortable.

 

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Image via Flickr/Bill Townsend Photography

Tip #2 Give value to life skills and character building

Successful schooling includes teaching important life skills and character building as well. The emphasis should be on creating a great human being who can thrive in the world, and that takes more than just memorizing facts and figures. When it was time to teach percentages and budgets in math, I took my girls to Target to figure out prices on the sale racks, and gave them faux checkbooks to record their purchases. My son is learning outdoorsman skills in Scouts. There are many life lessons that need to be taught, but aren’t found in any curriculum.

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Image via Flickr/Technomancy

Tip #3  Be realistic, you will have bad days

No matter how idealistic you are or how prepared you feel, there will be some crappy days ahead of you. Days when you don’t feel like teaching. Days where your kids don’t feel like learning. Days where you might get sick of each other – and that’s ok. It’s the beauty of having a flexible learning environment. Sometimes I’d let the kids have a “chill” day, and they were allowed to read books all day. Other times we did a “movie” day where we watched nature shows and documentaries all afternoon. Don’t beat yourself up if you play “hooky” for a day or two. Honor the rhythms within yourself and your kids, and cut yourself a break.

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Image via Flickr/Bill Townsend Photography

Tip #4 Enjoy the journey

Being in charge of your child’s education throughout the years is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient with yourself. Enjoy the journey, don’t focus too much on the destination. You are the captain of this ship, so don’t let naysayers have control of your wheel. Let go of perfectionism, judgment, comparing yourself to others, comparing your child to another, and any other negative habit that will impede you.  Show up, do your best, and know that you aren’t going to ruin your child. You can do this!

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Image via Flickr/Sue Talbert Photography

Tip #5 Be open

Be open to the fact that things will change and be willing to adapt.  Your perspective, your approach, maybe even your circumstances will evolve over time, and that will affect how and what you teach. Incorporate what works for you, and let everything else go. Be willing to evaluate each year and adjust your goals accordingly. You might even decide to place your child in traditional school options at some point. Just remember, there’s no one right or wrong path. Keep your mind and heart open and they’ll steer you in the right directions.

In my decade of having school-aged children, I’ve had them participate in public education, charter schools, online programs, and homeschooling. There’s no “One Size Fits All” answer on how to educate a child, but if I could do it all over again, I would’ve started out as a homeschooling family, and never deviated course.

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Homeschooling is an amazing journey and I hope you'll let these tips guide you along the way.

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I’d love to hear tips and ideas from other homeschooling moms, or from mothers who aspire to school their children some day. What keeps you sane and enjoying the journey? Leave your comments below.

For more tips on homeschooling, here’s my Homeschooling Tips: 5 Things to Ensure a Successful Start

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Homeschooling Tips: 5 Sanity Saving Pieces of Advice

Shannon is a mother of 3 teens, who hit 40 and decided that instead of a "mid-life crisis", she wanted an adventure of a lifetime. She convinced her wonderfully open-minded husband to pack up their house, sell most of their possessions, and travel the USA in an RV for a year or two. Besides homeschooling her kids, running their online program, Watts in the World, Shannon loves to explore new places. Nothing is more exciting than waking up in a new city everyday, and discovering what's great abou ... More

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9 comments

  1. Nicole says:

    Great tips. Homeschooling is the best place where we educate our children from home. Thank you for the efforts

  2. Angela says:

    I have been teaching my kids since they were born and my daughter is so amazing and my son is coming up to her level FAST. I don’t trust the schools frankly to put her at the right level and the bullying and things that happen anymore I don’t want them in school but I was so nervous about my ability to do this. These tips gave me new confidence that I can do this. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!!! My kids will appreciate this. My daughter just turned five last month and she can read and add and subtract and is all kinds of smart. If you start teaching them early they just WANT to learn all the time. They can make you feel overwhelmed wondering what to teach them next and that is actually what makes me nervous a lot of times.

  3. Randy says:

    Don’t forget the fathers. I love coming home and taking part in my 5 year old daughter’s education. It gives me a chance to get a little closer to her, take some pressure off my wife and know what my daughter is learning day to day. Since we don’t agree with what the schools are indoctrinating kids with now days, we can keep her inocent for a few more years. Finally we love the freedom. We can make appointments when the other kids are in school or take vacations off season. That in itself can help pay for a lot of the materials.

  4. jody says:

    These are all great tips, What can I do for a child who was cornered by a relatives and were told that they are stupid and dumb,because they do go to a REAL school? I have been struggling with this for three years now with 2 children with very low self esteem ever since. And tell me I don’t have to learn it, I am too stupid anyway!!

  5. Andy says:

    Thanks Shannon! My wife and I home-school our kids and I love your 5 tips here. I will definitely share them with her. We really like Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson approaches to home-schooling and have found that taking ideas from these and other practical approaches has really helped us. The cool thing is that our kids schooling never ends but they don’t even know it! Kids are so curious and when we take some of these tips you’ve shared education really comes alive! Thanks again.

  6. mindy says:

    I have just started homeschooling my children last year and so far things are going ok.. my oldest is 16 and will be graduating early 🙂 I just had my 4th child last month so things are a little bit more busier then last year but we will be just fine.. I hope to homeschool them until they are all finished with school ..Thank you for your tips as well !

  7. Shannon Watt says:

    THanks! I learn so much from other moms. If you have any other parenting or schooling tips, I’d love to hear them!

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