Homeschooling Tips: 5 Sanity Saving Pieces of Advice
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Homeschooling is an amazing journey and I hope you'll let these tips guide you along the way.
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