On Facebook, a homeschool mom asked me, "I am working on finding more clarity and intention behind homeschooling. . . Could you please share the three main skills you believe have helped you the most?"
Such a great question!! And, honestly, a pretty weighty one, too.
In discussing it with a veteran homeschooling friend, Nelly, some very practical concepts came to the forefront:
- Finding a Routine
- Creating the Learning Environment
- Becoming a Master Teacher
First Skill—Finding a Routine
Setting up a dependable routine for your week makes a huge difference. In my homeschooling years, we always started the morning with the least favorite class (math or grammar) so that as soon as that was done, we could move on to subjects that were more interesting/fun/exciting. We would work until lunch, and then there was free time, free reading, and messy, time-consuming projects like art. For Nelly, she starts off with practicing music instruments because, as she said, "otherwise, it would never get done!" Then, she has a very workable schedule for her older children (working on subjects at their own pace) while she works with her younger students in the morning. After lunch, they do subjects together, with lots of fun for all.
The thing about a routine is that once you've established it, your kids know what's coming. You don't have to be constantly "reinventing the wheel," and there is less explaining, less resistance from your kids because it IS the routine. And, since you're homeschooling, if you need to change things for a day or two, you have the freedom—and getting back to the routine will feel "normal."
NOTE: Make sure that your routine fits you and your kids. If you're allergic to mornings, setting up a schedule that begins at 6:00 a.m. is setting yourself up for failure!! If your routine crams way too much into a normal day, your kids won't be able to keep up. Start with a "minimalist" routine, with only the most important subjects and activities. Make sure there is LOTS of free time in it. Then, try it out for a few weeks. If everyone is doing well and everything is do-able, great! If your kids run out of things to do every day, then add a little bit more and see how that goes. If your kids are overwhelmed and frustrated, try scaling back. A lot depends on the ages, interests, and outside activities of your children. You are looking for the "sweet spot" in routine—and that takes each family a bit of trial and error to find.
Next Monday, we'll consider the second important skill for homeschool moms.