Making the most of your homeschool year
"You can bring your children home for the right reasons, but without the right biblical perspective you might be just adding another activity to their lives and to yours."
— Educating the WholeHearted Child
Homeschooling. It can be such a full and rich experience and it can also be completely terrifying with the depth of responsibility it holds. If you are just now starting on that journey, I am so excited for you! Some of you may be sheer veterans here to read yet another homeschooling post, but no matter how long we have been on this homeschooling path, we all need a bit of a refresher from time to time. And what better time than August, when we are wrapping our minds around curriculum, schedules and check lists. ;)
This year will be our 4th year homeschooling, and it is hard for me to grasp that we have even been on this journey for that long! It seems like such a beautiful whirlwind.
I can remember being so excited and yet terrified all at the same time our first year. I was determined to be the best homeschooling Mom there ever was. I had all the curriculum I could possibly need, I had all my teacher supplies and the will to do it all and to do it all well. Oh sweet first year Bre. ;)
The first year, we started out with the “My Father’s World” curriculum and I absolutely loved it, I still love it. I love how hands on it is and how much fun we had learning together.
The second and third year was a little bogged down with my frustration on teaching Jude to read coupled with Jude’s frustrations on not understanding and then feeling like he did not like any aspect of school because we let those frustrations get the best of us. Sadly, I let our tasks pave the way instead of trying to meet my child where he was and nurture his fears and frustrations.
Last year was the first year we tried mostly Classical Conversations with supplementing our own Math, Bible and Language Arts. It went…fine. The only problem was when I did not take the time to look at our lesson in advance. I would just open up books and do an impromptu lesson, and Jude caught on to that pretty quick. It suddenly became very obvious that if I want my kids to work hard, excel and be diligent in their work, I have to lead by example.
Que the reset.
If I want my kids to find their education important, I must find it important enough to take the time to carefully review curriculum, figure out what works best with my child’s learning style, and then get my game plan as to what our schedule might look like each day. If you did not catch my post on schedule’s, you can check it out here. I detailed what I aim for our day to look like and how we fit in chores and errands. This is something to review every year, because as your kids grow, the schedule will look different. Your kids will thrive on a schedule, with a sporadic day of fun thrown in here and there. ;)
Now that I can look back at these past 3 years, I feel like I have a firm grasp on the foundation I need to set and a clear vision of the Stewart homeschool journey. If I could give 3 short pieces of advice for longevity and endurance in homeschooling (always coupled with LOTS of prayers) it would be as follows:
1. Write out a mission statement for YOUR family.
(I so badly wanted to look up examples of all the best mission statements and take the best parts of each to make ours this year, but I refrained as I was wonderfully reminded that we can not compare our journey with any other homeschool family, each is so very unique!) If you need ideas on what this might look like, I would be happy to show you ours. Be sure to include family values, priorities and end goals in homeschooling.
2. Homeschooling is not a sprint or a checklist!
It is a full on marathon (or 5) and a never ending list of character traits to work on as well as reading levels and math books to master. No child is the same and no homeschool family is the same. I know you have heard it before, but do not look to others to compare, rather surround yourself with others who inspire and encourage you in your journey.
3. Have fun!
Be creative, get outside, make learning enjoyable! If you are having fun, your kids will too and then it becomes a win-win for everyone. I know I quickly fall into the habit of just trying to check off the list to “get it done”, but the times we have the most fun “learning” is when we are simply learning together. It may be getting out in nature, or out of the house to do something a little different or even just changing up our routine at home so it is not strictly book work all the time. Learning is all around, so encourage those curious minds and surround yourself with people who will encourage those same things in their homeschool journey as well.
All that to say, look to God for the strength and wisdom you need every single day. I have said it in other posts, but prayer is crucial. Your relationship with God is essential in homeschooling and how you model your relationship with God and in turn nurture the relationship with your kids will directly affect your homeschooling experience as well as the end goal in raising mature men and women who love and honor God.
I loved all the input I received on questions for homeschooling through my Facebook page and Instagram. Homeschooling is such a deep and wide subject it is hard to fit it all into one post. To wrap up a couple questions, I will tell you that choosing curriculum can be extremely difficult and overwhelming. We love Classical Conversations and use that curriculum and then add in math, writing/spelling and bible. I personally have to go to a store that has a wide variety of curriculum so I can flip through the material to see if it is a source that will mesh with my children’s learning style as well as the level they are on. I learned the hard way when I bought a reading curriculum that many homeschooling families have had great success with, so I thought I would try it for my middle child. It was not until I was telling some of my homeschooling girlfriends about how bored Lila was with this reading program, and as I heard the words coming out of my mouth while I was explaining it and one friend who said, “Yeah. I would be bored too!” (Bahaha) I knew it was a terrible match for my sweet Lila.
We are all learning as well go. We are in this together!
I am sure I will talk a bit more about curriculum, organizing, record keeping, and all that fun homeschooling stuff more over on my IG this week, so make sure you are following me there. Also, If you have not read "Educating the WholeHearted Child" by Clay and Sally Clarkson, I would highly recommend it. It is widely recommended for first time homeschooling parents, but I just got it last week and it covers everything from legalities to the why's and how's of homeschooling and so much more.
Do you know that I love praying for you guys?! I am praying for several of you who are starting back this week in hopes that you have fresh eyes and enough peace in your heart to stretch all your patience muscles as far as the night is long. ;)
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." —Matthew 6:33-34
Godspeed Mama (or Dad!). You've got this!