Some people think the key to a successful homeschool year is in the “right” curriculum. Some think it’s by finding the right schedule. And some think you’re not really meant to thrive in homeschooling but just survive it.
I believe you can not only have a successful and thriving homeschool journey, but can also have joy and fun in the process! But how do you unlock this? The key comes by implementing this one thing into those areas…
I believe this is the key to most all of our homeschooling problems. It starts by simplifying three different areas: your schedule, your curriculum and your expectations.
Maybe you love planning out every 30 minutes of your day and you really thrive on that. Or maybe you don’t like having a planned day at all. Or if you’re like me, you fall in the middle of those two. I have tried planning out every 30 minutes and each kids schedule times to do things; and I failed epically (I mean terribly and only kept up with it for a day!) because it was too complicated. I got so stressed out if I fell behind by tending to a toddlers tantrums or a child that decided to take 2 hours doing one math lesson (please tell me I’m not the only one with that problem some days?). I have also tried the whole “go with the flow of the day” and not planned anything. Then I found nothing really ever got done because I had no plan or idea what we needed to get done. I got distracted by all the housework I needed to do and my kiddos got frustrated because they didn’t know what the end marker was for school.
I think we need to have a middle ground. To simplify and be realistic. I have found that creating a block schedule for our day has really helped us stay on track. It gives direction to truly get done what needs to happen in our day but it gives the grace of 2-3 hours for you to do it.
I also started simply writing down in a notebook all that I needed to do in our group subjects each day and individual subjects the that I need to help each kid with. All 3 of my older kiddos now have a $1 notebook from Walmart that each day has written out what they need to do. To keep them accountable and keep mom on track. I’ve used other peoples and created my own cutie lesson plans and things to do, but once again I found when I simplify that’s when the relief came and I was able to keep up with it.
There are so many amazing curriculums out there, however, so many of them (especially when you are juggling multiple kids) make homeschooling complicated and stressful. Lists of 20 books to read for history, multiple workbooks for Language Art study (a spelling book, phonics book, vocabulary book, grammar book and writing book), science that has words as the teacher I can barely pronounce and science experiments that look intimating to just read the directions for! Plus the science kit that cost more than the science book and student book put together! And this is just for one kid! Times that by five and this mom is never going to get a break and going to give up by week 2 of school.
By simplifying curriculum and focusing on the things you want to have in your homeschooling day, you will find freedom and joy in your days. Do you want to focus on reading a lot of books? Or would you rather set a small goal and then if you pass it you can add more, but if you don’t it’s all good too! Do you want to include art by painting and sketching? Or by doing coloring pages? Do you want to have everyone together for main subjects like bible, history, science and art? Then look for curriculums that help you achieve your goals and purpose you have in homeschooling. Be realistic too. If you’re not a crafty mom, don’t go to the curriculum that has a ton of projects and crafts. And if you’re an artistic mom, don’t go for the curriculum that is super structured and doesn’t have any artistic style flowing through it.
Focus on the main subjects first. In our day we focus on all our group subjects first, if I wait til the end of the day they won’t happen as I will run out of energy. So I’ve looked at what is important for our family. We start with bible, then move to history/science and then to math as a group so I can move about with each kid as needed. I have five kids and need as much as possible to be in group formed so that I’m not stretched too thin. This is going to dictate what curriculum we use and sift through a lot of the things that will or will not work for our family.
By knowing these things and what’s important to our family, I can focus on what matters and simplify those areas.
This is an important one. Let go of your unrealistic expectation, sweet mom. Stop looking at instagram and thinking everyone else is doing it better than you. If you’re in the season of littles, enjoy that season and work school around it. Don’t put so much on yourself and your kids that you loose the joy of learning in the process. If you have all older kids, enjoy those moments with them. Create those memories of read alouds for your children as they listen to your voice tell a dramatic story. And memories that you can store away in your heart, for when they are older. Let go of the expectations that you have to be a perfect homeschool mom or that you’re kids have to be genius. It just adds unneeded pressure on you and your child. Slow down and enjoy this life God has blessed you with, and the child He has given you.
You know that question, “If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?” I would say, “Simplify, Erin”. Stop trying to do a strict schedule that won’t work because it’s not you. Stop trying to do curriculums that “looks” like so much fun but is so much work and isn’t realistic in these years with raising littles and having five kids. And to stop beating myself up because I’m comparing myself with what I “think” the perfect homeschool day looks like. But finding instead what works for my family and embracing the unique homeschool journey us. Focus on what matters. Get rid of what doesn’t.
Let’s get rid of the complicated and embrace simplicity. Are you with me? 🙂