How is your homeschool day going? Sometimes, you have a plan, are able to start the year following the plan, and everything goes according to that plan. (A miracle, right?) But other years the plan just doesn’t work for whatever reason—sickness, a new baby, family emergencies, new co-op classes, a new curriculum, and so on. In case you’re having one of those years when the original plan just isn’t working, here are a few suggestions for planning the entire school year and tips for when you need to readjust your plan.
Tip #1—Set goals for your school year.
While you’re scheduling your school year, encourage your children to set their own goals for their education. What are some things they’ve been particularly curious about or have wanted to know? Look for ways to incorporate those things into the overall academic goals, and your child will feel like an active participant in his or her education.
Tip #2—Get organized; stay organized.
All the books, papers, pens/pencils, and such can start to get out of control. Find a system that works for you and your kids to keep all their school materials organized. It may be a basket or drawer system that keeps all the work for one subject in one place. Or you may have a shelf designated for each child, and only his school stuff goes on that shelf. And those fun but easy-to-lose manipulatives? Try keeping them in manila folders or envelopes organized by month for easy access.
Tip #3—Make balance a priority.
Focus on developing a homeschool routine that is structured enough to accomplish your goals without losing sight of your students’ (and your!) need for occasional changes of scene and pace.
Tip #4—Maintain “administrator” unity in your homeschool decisions.
Dad and Mom need to be in each decision together so that the kids don’t get the idea that they can pit one parent against the other. The “teacher” supports the “principal,” vice versa, and the family as a whole contributes to the overall needs of the family.
Tip #5—Don’t measure the effectiveness of your schedule by other homeschoolers’ schedules.
Focus on tangible measurements of success—such as your children’s ability to apply textbook knowledge to real-life situations—and spend whatever time is necessary to encourage their growth. Do the best you can with the time you have.
Tip #6—Set and stick to regular homework deadlines.
Don’t let the convenience of a more fluid schedule distract you from an integral part of your child’s preparation for college and the workforce.
Tip #7—Organize a “school basket” for younger children to use during school hours.
Each younger child should have his or her own basket but only have access to it during the older children’s work hours. Fill the basket with fun activities, educational toys, interesting picture books, and puzzles that the child can do on his or her own.
Tip #8—Don’t let your curriculum completely determine how and what you teach.
Curriculum is a tool—a wonderful tool—but only you can decide how best to use it for your children. Capitalize on your students’ learning strengths while alternating with other learning styles to help them grow. For example, consider reading tests and homework assignments aloud to aural learners while having them follow along on the printed pages.
Tip #9—Keep detailed academic records.
You’ll need a selection broad enough to show your child’s curve of improvement throughout the school year. Remember, you can always throw out unneeded papers later, but you can’t get them back once they’re gone.
Tip #10—Enjoy homeschooling!
Life is short and you only have so much time with your children. The more prepared you are for the school year, the more time you will have to enjoy it and your children.
What other tips would you add to this list?