How To Have A Successful Homeschool Year
Homeschooling is not an easy undertaking.
Every year we start out strong and excited...
New curriculum, new colouring tools, new workbooks. It’s all fun, until...it’s not.
In 9 years of homeschooling I’ve noticed that by February we start to lose momentum, both kids and mama.
I know part of the problem is a combination of the winter blues and the monotony of homeschooling. There’s also the fact that we’re in each other space all the time. But by the time February comes around I’m ready to throw in the towel and call it a year or enrol the kids in school.
Truthfully, I don’t really want to put them in school, but by this point I’m exhausted.
Set Yourself Up For Homeschool Success
Even though there are times...many times...that I want to give up, I have found that there are things that contribute to whether we have a great year or not.
It is possible to start the year well...have a great school year...and to finish well.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but there are ways we can set ourselves up for success along the way.
Having a successful homeschool year is going to look differently for each family.
When I say “finish the year successfully” that doesn’t mean accomplish all the goals, straight A’s for each student or be involved in every extracurricular activity.
Yes, I think some of those are great goals, but more than that, I would say ending the school year well is finishing with a good attitude, joy and peace, and ending the year knowing that we have given it our best.
A few years ago, I decided I was going to be more intentional in many areas of my life, including the way we homeschool, and that intention has carried over into every year since then.
Some areas of intention have been going well and some areas, well…. let’s just say there’s room for improvement.
My husband and I have also been working on teaching our children to be intentional; to start strong, to keep going and persevere but also, to finish welleven when it’s something they don’t necessarily enjoy...like certain subjects.
It’s easy to start well, especially when it’s something new and exciting or something you’re looking forward to, but when it’s difficult or becomes mundane, it can be hard to give it our best.
I would say that would be true for homeschooling. Every year we start out excited and ready to start the new school year. The kids are equally excited about their new books and curriculum, but by February, the fun has worn off.
From that point on we’re struggling to keep going and to not just throw up our hands and say “Enough, let’s just relax and have fun for the rest of the year!!”
I’m not saying relaxing and having fun are bad, in fact I think they’re essential for a great homeschooling experience, but every year it’s tempting to give up instead of persevering and keep on going to see it through.
As much as I want to finish the goals we set out for the year, more importantly, I want to teach my children to finish what they start, finish it well and have a good attitude while doing it.
This past year was my busiest year to date; with running the home, household duties, blogging and homeschooling the kids. Even so it was also our best finish yet. We finished strong and finished most of our goals for the year and even better, weI was way more relaxed and had more joy! Homeschooling didn’t feel like such a burden. That was a first for me.
How did we do it? Why was this year different than the previous?
I believe it had to do with being intentional, but there are also a few Do’s and Don’ts that I have learned throughout the years that contributed to finishing well.
Do’s And Don’ts For Finishing Your Homeschool Year Well
Don’t set yourself up for failure
When we have too high of expectations of yourself or our children, it can be so discouraging when we don’t reach that expectation. Whether that’s completing the entire curriculum or doing x number of projects or field trips that year.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting everything to work out perfectly. But don’t forget to plan either.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Don’t compare your life (home, school area, resources, etc.) to others or try to copy their homeschool life or schedule thinking that is what you need to have a perfect school year.
I’m all for being inspired or encouraged from someone else’s example, but what works for one family doesn’t always work for another.
Connection with other homeschoolers is important to keep you going. Make friends in the homeschool community because they are in the trenches with you and understand what you are going through…even if it’s friends or a community that is online.
Do make sure your tank is full
Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and spiritually. It’s hard to pour into others if you’re operating on empty.
The days I struggle with homeschooling the most are the days my attitude stinks, because I have too much on my plate or I haven’t taken the time to connect with the Lord or others.
Do establish a routine
Create a homeschool routine that works for you instead of a set-in-stone schedule. Use a schedule as a tool and guideline, but don’t get upset if you’re not following it to a T. Family life is hard to schedule.
Do know your why!!
Knowing your why can help you stay the course.
Keep going back to why you’ve decided to homeschool in the first place. You will need to remind yourself…often!
Do set goals
Setting goals for the year is important for you to know where you’re going and what needs to be accomplished. Make sure to break them down into bite size pieces.
Do have some flexibility
Life is unpredictable and the wonderful thing about homeschooling, is that we have the freedom to be flexible. Sometimes we need to skip what we had planned for the day and do an impromptu outing or forgo the schooling because the children are sick.
As much as I love having goals and I think they’re important, a little flexibility is also important for everyone’s sanity. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.
Allow yourself some flexibility along the way for a much more enjoyable year.
Don’t change your curriculum
I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on this, but I’m not saying don’t EVER change your curriculum. I am saying don’t be too quick to change your curriculum. I have seen a lot of homeschoolers swap out their curriculum often, constantly trying something new. It’s hard for the kids to grasp something if it’s being changed on them multiple times a year.
Take this into consideration that when we’re quick to jump ship on something that doesn’t seem to be working, it has the potential to set the example, that if something is hard, we give up on it.
There’s also the chance that important things can be missed because each curriculum is set up differently and covers different things on a different schedule.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help is not a sign of failure. It’s ok if we aren’t sure what to do and need to ask for help.
Do spend time having fun
Having fun is great for reducing stress and it improves our connection with others.
Make time for having fun in your homeschool, it will be a benefit to the entire family.
In conclusion, here are the:
11 Do’s and Don’ts for a successful homeschool year.
· Don’t set yourself up for failure
· Don’t play the comparison game
· Do connect with other homeschoolers
· Do make sure to fill your tank
· Do establish a routine
· Do know your why
· Do set goals
· Do have some flexibility
· Don’t change your curriculum...too quickly
· Don’t be afraid to ask for help
· Do spend time having fun
Blessings on your new school year, may this be your best year yet!