Homeschooling your kids can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s no secret that it’s a huge time commitment. If you are like the majority of homeschool parents looking for ways to better manage your time and maximize your children’s education, then you’ll enjoy the tips below.
Know Your Strengths
Homeschooling will force you to stretch beyond your comfort zone, but it’s important to know what gifts and personality traits you bring to the table. Identify where you excel as a parent and teacher, and tap into those strengths whenever possible. You might even identify some strengths you didn’t realize you had.
Supplement Your Weaknesses
Nobody expects you to know everything about every school subject. Go online for support when you need it, or enroll your kids in a few classes outside the home for activities like art, music, and physical fitness (if these aren’t your forte). Many cities also have homeschooling co-op options where parents share the responsibility of teaching to provide the children with a wider variety of expertise.
Prioritize Learning Activities
Perhaps the biggest perk of homeschooling is the autonomy it allows. You can choose the specific learning activities you think will best suit your kids and leave the rest. On that same note, don’t try to do everything — particularly if your child does not respond well to a particular style of teaching or independent learning. Go with what seems to work and make those activities your focal point.
Use Online Resources
When it comes to creative craft and education ideas, the Internet is a wondrous place. Visit sites designed for educators to find ideas for your homeschool lessons, or browse social sites like Pinterest to get activity ideas. You can even find some educational videos on the topic you’re teaching!
Keep in mind, you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to learning objectives and lesson plans — there is a world of information at your fingertips.
Create a Schedule
Flexibility is a huge benefit in the homeschooling environment, but it’s important to know the difference between flexing your time and procrastinating (or doing the opposite and spending too much time on schoolwork). At the beginning of every week, review the family calendar and select times that schoolwork will take place. This way, if you get off track one day, you can look ahead for ways to make up that time during the rest of the week.
Some families excel at going by the book when it comes to a homeschooling schedule, while others fare better with some wiggle room. The main thing is the intent. Write down when and where the work will (most likely) take place, and plan the rest of your week accordingly.
Reassess and Revamp
It’s okay to change the direction of a certain lesson, or your entire homeschool philosophy, if it just isn’t going according to plan. You will always have challenging days, but if you notice a certain time of day, style of teaching, or environment is consistently causing headaches, get creative and come up with another solution. You often lose more time trying to force something that is not working than simply shifting your focus mid-task.
Let Your Kids Lead (Sometimes)
Set the expectations for your kids, but then let them decide how to get results. You don’t need to sit beside them for every activity. Let your children work independently as much as possible while still being available to help when needed. If your children respond better in the afternoon or evening, don’t force them to start their work at the crack of dawn every day. It’s important to set some learning boundaries, but don’t be afraid to let your kids adapt their study time to what feels most comfortable for them.
Delegate Domestic Tasks
When your home doubles as the classroom, your house tends to take more of a hit domestically than families who leave their homes during the day. As such, it’s important to make sure that everyone living in the home takes part in domestic tasks — even the youngest kids. Find age-appropriate ways for your kids to help in the kitchen, in the laundry room, and with general chores. Don’t feel guilty about asking everyone to be more hands-on around the house. Learning responsibility through shared chores is an invaluable life lesson for your kids.
When homeschooling, the lines between learning and living tend to blur. Of course, families are constantly learning together, but it’s important to set aside “no school” times when studying and official academic activities are off-limits. Instead, fill that time with fun activities or independent play for your kids. Don’t just assume that time for relaxation will happen naturally; insist upon it. The downtime will leave everyone in the family feeling rejuvenated and ready to attack bigger and better things.
Avoid ‘Keeping Up’ with Anyone Else
You’ll likely come across other homeschool families that seem like they have it all together, but don’t let that discourage you. Remember that no two homeschooling families are alike. Don’t waste your time trying to do the same activities or follow the same schedule that works for another family if it isn’t a good fit for your family.
Do you homeschool your kids? What are some of the best time-saving tips you’ve developed to be productive and enjoy the homeschooling process?
Contributed by Kelly Warfield: Kelly is the editorial director of teacher products for Carson-Dellosa™ Publishing Group. Kelly has been helping children all of her life as a camp counselor, tutor, summer school teacher, classroom volunteer, PTA member, and teacher. She has a bachelor of science in deaf education and her teaching experience includes second grade and Elementary deaf-education class teacher. During her first year, Kelly was awarded her school’s Rookie Teacher of the Year.