This year I started homeschooling. Pause for a cyber five to all my homeschooling peeps. :) It’s been fun… and challenging… and rewarding! I remember in the beginning doubting even the ability to homeschool. Now, after almost a full year of kindergarten… still having days where I can doubt my ability to homeschool. Let’s be honest with ourselves, even in parenting we can find ourselves here, questioning if we have the strength and capabilities to do a good job. There always will be people who seem more put together than us and those who seem less. Yet, I am grateful for the opportunity to spend the extra time with my daughter and have the privilege to watch her learn and grow throughout the day.
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Since this was my first year of homeschooling, there was a bit of a learning curve needed to adjust to our new normal. Trying to figure out what methods worked… and didn’t work within our family dynamics. Each child is so unique it’s not surprising there are MANY different types of homeschooling routines that work well for each specific family. I just wanted to share what has worked for my family. Treat this information like the give-a-penny-take-a-penny jar. Take whatever information you want, and leave a comment with any information that you have that has worked for your family and may help others.
1) Get dressed each morning
So one of the things that I thought was a perk of homeschooling was the idea that you can stay in your PJ’s all day long. Well… somedays are like that, but, personally, I have seen the difference between when I have my daughter get dressed in the morning. It improves the focus. I noticed a more relaxed approach to the whole day when she wears PJ’s, but she is more alert and motivated when she gets dressed.
2) Have a routine
Routine has helped both of us. You may laugh at this if you knew me at all before kids, however, currently I definitely see the value of routine with kids. The consistency helps us both know what we need to accomplish, and how long we have to accomplish it. We start school around the same time every day, and end approximately the same time. It helps me push myself, but not underestimate or overestimate how much I am actually doing.
3) Record progress
I record my progress on Google Drive, using Google Sheets. It’s similar to an Excel spreadsheet. I love being able to view a visual documentation of our progress. Everyday I record what we do, so I can see in a glance what I have taught since day 1. I am a visual thinker, and if I don’t have things recorded I can question what I did yesterday, let alone 100 days ago.
4) Be willing to be flexible
Some days we can get everything done and then some. On those days my daughter is focused and ready for the tasks at hand. Other days it feels like EVERYTHING is a distraction. During those days, I try to mix up the game plan by moving to a different location in the house, doing more hands-on learning, etc… I am going to be honest with you, for me, it is hard to mix things up once the day has already begun, but I have found it can make the difference between getting what seems like no work done, to at least getting some work done.
5) Set the timer for those things that need some extra motivation
I don’t know why this works. There was a cleaning woman I listened to that encouraged adults to use this with household chores… and it works. Set the timer for x amount of minutes, and encourage the student to get the work done in that amount of time (I generally use 10 minute increments). For some reason, when my daughter doesn’t feel there is an indefinite amount of time, she can focus better, even when she doesn’t like the subject matter.
6) Do not set unrealistic goals
When I first started homeschooling, I was determined to be “Super Homeschool Mom” I was going to spend the least amount of money possible, and print everything I needed from the internet. However, ink and paper weren’t that cheap anyway, and I couldn’t find the time to print everything out. What works for some, may not work for everyone, and I concluded for us it would be more productive if I cave and bought some books. I still kept Kindergarten pretty basic, but my family chose to go with these books to help supplement: God’s World K5 Science/Health, The Curious Kids’ Science book, My America and My World Social Studies, and Scholastic First Grade Jumbo Book. We also had some Abeka I Can Read books, Leapfrog Leapreader books, and tons of Miscellaneous Educational supplies that we used to reinforce the schooling.
In the beginning of homeschooling I was so focused on my daughter excelling, I tried to rush her through learning to get her to a place that I felt would prove her success in homeschooling. This is not a great philosophy. It was overwhelming. Each kid is so different, so to try to base success solely on information learned is unrealistic. Kids may excel at one thing, but need some extra motivation in another department. It is helpful to find out what goals to aim for her grade level, but also remember just to take it one day at a time and focus on what she needs to learn today.
What’s expected by grades
These are not linked to state requirements but rather just some helpful links for what is expected by grade level up to grade 4.
- entering prek
- entering kindergarten
- entering first grade
- entering 2nd grade
- entering 3rd grade (bottom of page)
- entering 4th grade
7) Enjoy the Learning Process
Take time to enjoy the learning process with your kids. Kids know if you are excited or drained when teaching them. Some of my favorite teachers were the ones that were still excited to teach what I was learning. I am always excited to teach along side my daughter, but somedays it doesn’t show. I let tiredness, reflect a different side of emotion than I am trying to convey. I know we are human. Yes, we all get tired, but I think we should try to make a conscience effort to create a learning environment that your kid and you would want to be a part of.
Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.