- Homeschooling brings out the best and worst of the relational dynamics in your home. Sometimes problems are pushed aside and able to be ignored when your kids aren’t with you all the time, but that doesn’t mean they have disappeared. They are growing hidden roots. Homeschooling provides the TIME for you to work on those areas in yourself and your kids that need attention.
- First priority: teach character building and habit training (patience, being okay with making mistakes, the importance of effort – not results, showing adaptability, accepting “no,” cleaning up after yourself). Second priority: give them a love of learning and teach them how they learn best. Third priority: actual academics.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help for both your child and for you. No one, NO ONE, has it all together all the time! We all need tutoring, mentoring, a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with and take a break with.
- Kids usually balk at changes. Expect pushback as you start the year. But as you continue your routine, they will get acclimated, realize that this is the way things are, and stop complaining (or at least do it less). You’ve got to push through until you get to that place of their acceptance.
- Limited screen time makes for happier kids. And it’s okay if they get bored! Boredom is the breeding ground for creativity! They GET to be bored now! Celebrate! Again, have the courage to push through the time of complaining and you will see reward on the other side.
- Use this year as an opportunity to let your children experience a balanced life. Mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual growth are all just as important as academic growth. Spend time immersed in nature. Find fun (or at least doable) ways to exercise. Take the opportunities to discuss the big questions when they arise. Consciously choose your relationship over your checklist. Your kids can emerge from this school year more fully alive than ever before.
- When tempers flare, take a break. Change location. Do something fun together. If it still doesn’t work, let go of it and try again tomorrow. Yelling doesn’t make anyone learn better.
- Think about all your friends and how different they are. Some of them are good at math. Some of them are good at relationships. Some make you feel loved and you want to share your deepest secrets. Some are task-oriented go-getters. Some are problem solvers. Some are leaders and some are followers. The same goes with your children. They’re not going to be good at everything. Your job is to help them discover their skills and gifts and talents so they can be responsible, contributing adults.
- Be aware of your and your children’s personalities. Recognize what impact it is having on your relationships. Count it as a learning/growing opportunity!
- If your kids fight a lot, have them do their schoolwork in separate rooms. Create little nooks they will enjoy going to.
- Kids’ (and adults’!) prefrontal cortex shuts down and they cannot learn when they are upset. Please do not yell at your kids when they frustrate you during school time. It will cause them to move to fight/flight/freeze mode and literally be UNABLE to do further learning for at least 20-30 minutes. Take a break, then come back with a smile on your face. Be on their team. You are their greatest ally!
- If you struggle with being too harsh or impatient with your kids, think of a person you look up to and imagine them sitting in the room with you. It will help you to be a gentler, more patient parent!
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep and exercising, eating healthy foods, relaxing with friends or spouse or a good book, walking in nature, praying or meditating – all these things will make you a more patient, loving parent, able to handle the relational conflict when it comes.
- Your older kids may say, “That’s not the way we did it in school.” That’s okay. Just have a smile and a short response ready for those times (“I know, but this is how WE are going to do it.”) and be willing to have a longer talk later about why you are doing things differently. And, if you are feeling insecure about why you are doing things differently, it really helps to listen to homeschooling podcasts and read homeschooling books so that you feel firmer in your convictions. This is a shift in mindset for everyone, and there will be bumps like this along the road.
- Your parenting style will probably be the biggest factor in the success of your homeschool. An atmosphere of chaos is not conducive to learning. If you struggle in this area, read or listen to some good parenting books that encourage connection between you and your child and help you to understand both yourself and your child better. (The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline, The Connected Child, Positive Parenting, Connected Parenting, You’re Ruining My Life But Not Really, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, the Aha Parenting Website)
- Remember, your child is not a project to be managed but a soul to be cultivated.
- You’ll never look back and regret spending this time with your kids.
Thank you, Jennifer Porter, for helping me come up with this list! And, I just want to add that we are not writing here from a place of perfection. Far from it! These are the goals, not necessarily always the reality! Parenting is hard, y’all.
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