We were cuddled on the couch reading from a Dr. Seuss book: “If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn. Oh, the most wonderful stuff.”
Oh, yes! We learn so much “stuff” as we homeschool – even mom! Although I’ve been homeschooling for years, I’m still learning…and unfortunately some things have taken me longer to learn than others!
Here are a few of the most important lessons I have learned along our homeschooling journey so far:
Don’t be a slave to your curriculum
Often as we homeschoolers start out, we tend to be so concerned about doing everything “just right” that we can easily become a slave to the curriculum we are using. Unfortunately, my oldest was definitely the guinea pig in our homeschooling adventure, but I eventually learned that I know my child and my time best. Although I believe review is very important, sometimes my child does not need to do … every … single … math problem on the page, and I don’t have to review every concept the curriculum says.
<GASP!> Did I really just say that?
Yes, and coming to that realization can be so releasing!
On the other hand, if your child is struggling with something and getting frustrated, take a break from it and come back at another time, but whatever you do, don’t let your curriculum make you a slave, take the joy of learning from your children, or lead you down the road to burn out!
Seek outside help/expertise if needed
When my oldest was a junior in high school, I paid a friend, who was an English teacher, to grade and comment on my son’s compositions. Since he was going to be taking dual enrollment classes at college the next year, I wanted him to have someone else’s input besides mine before heading into college classes. I’m not sure if it was more for building his confidence or mine, but either way, I’m glad we did it.
Maybe there is an area that you don’t really feel comfortable or qualified to teach. Is there a friend who can oversee that subject or teach it for you? Maybe you can even make an even swap. They teach that math class, and you teach the composition class. You don’t have to be super mom and do it all!
Remember: Each child is different
As my second and third child came into the homeschooling scene, I used the exact curriculum with them that I had used for my oldest, but as they got older, I realized that I not only needed to explore new and different curriculum available, but I also needed to consider that each of my children’s interests and learning styles are different. Just because one curriculum worked for my first child, that does not mean it will be the best fit for the others.
For example, when I saw that my daughter really loved studying health but was only getting a few weeks of it every year in the curriculum we were using, I switched to Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology for her 6th grade year. She loved it!
Currently my daughter is using Apologia’s Physical Science. My boys took the same Apologia classes using the CDs because they love using the computer. My daughter prefers to curl up on the couch with a book in her hands, so we opted to get her the book instead of having her at the computer like we did last year. She is much happier!
Last year I noticed that my second son had a creative bent toward story writing. Instead of having him take the same language class as his brother, this year I switched him to The One Year Adventure Novel. He has only been doing it for two weeks so far, but he has already excitedly hinted to me about his plot idea and characters for his novel.
Are you putting all your children in the same box like I was? Is it time to make a switch?
Don’t compare yourself to other moms
I often hear comments like – “You’re supermom!” or “How do you get all that done?” or “Your house is always so clean!”
Ha! If they only knew….I frequently have the same thoughts about them!….Sure, I got all these things done, but there is a mess at my house because in reality – my house is not always so clean – often only when I know company is coming!
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Galatians 6:4 says, “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”
Don’t feel deflated by looking at what others are getting done. Look at where God has put you and all that you have accomplished. When you have little ones, it may feel like all you got done was changing diapers, wiping noses, reading together, and feeding mouths…but that is just where God has you right now. Look to Him, not others.
Who are you focusing on?
Read. Read. Read.
Ever since my kids were wee little ones, I have read to them, and we continued reading together all the way until my oldest started college classes! We started out with simple Dr. Seuss books and story books. Then as they grew older, we moved on to chapter books and classics. The kids would always remind me that it was time to read, and they were always disappointed when we needed to stop at the end of the chapter which left us hanging!
Not too long ago I found a little sticky note that had all my kids’ first initials written in various orders. Trying to figure out what it was from, one of the kids said, “Oh, that’s one of the papers we used to keep track of who was supposed to sit where when we read together!” Haha…Yeah, we had to keep track so everyone could take turns sitting in the coveted place – beside mom (or was it beside the book?) and on the couch seat with the foot rest! What wonderful memories of cuddling up together to read, read, read.
Just today my teen son made a reference to a Dr. Seuss book that we read over and over many years ago, and probably just about every week someone in the family makes a comment that brings up some book that we have read together. Not only did reading together provide us with great memories, but I believe it drew us together as a family, gave them a love for reading, boosted my children along academically, and prompted great conversations.
School isn’t all about books. Have fun playing games to reinforce what the kids are learning. This is a great way to involve your kids of all ages. Use math flashcards, number or letter cards, sight words, spelling words, etc. to play a game. We played some well known games such as Mother May I, Battleship, and even Tic Tac Toss on the tiles of the kitchen floor, but as the kids got older they also liked to invent their own games. For one favorite game, after spelling some words, one of the kids would throw bean bags at the other child who would try to dodge them or catch them. Yeah, our games could get a little wild, but we had fun learning!
Don’t let school be a drudgery. Use the games you already have or invent some new ones to review what the kids are learning, have some fun, and maybe even burn a little bit of their bottled up energy in the process too!
“Oh, the most wonderful stuff” we learn along our homeschooling journey!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What “wonderful stuff” has the Lord been teaching you in your homeschooling? Do you need to make some changes like I did?