Don’t Survive, Thrive!
The idea of homeschooling may be scary to some, certainly overwhelming to those who are unfamiliar with it. So the thought of being able to actually enjoy the homeschool life may seem foreign.
I’m writing today to tell you that homeschooling isn’t just do-able, it can be enjoyable! It truly is about having a mindset of enjoying your children and getting to love learning.
Embrace homeschooling and check your mindset
Creating an environment that embraces homeschooling is a large part of learning to enjoy the homeschool life. When we work past the idea of surviving, or living for the light at the end of the tunnel, and when we decide to make the most of each day; that’s when we start taking delight in the homeschool life.
To help you make the most of each day and get to a place where you can enjoy homeschooling, I’ve put together a list of 7 ways to enjoy the homeschool life.
Make your home child-friendly
Rethink your home and rethink how you use the rooms in your home. It’s not a showcase for your material possessions, it’s a place to live. Make it live-able, function over appearance.
Childproof your home so you aren’t spending your days following the children to keep them safe or from getting into things.
Rethink the toys in your home. Do they encourage the imagination? Remove the noisy toys and the toys that don’t get played with.
Make learning centers
Create a spot for science projects and nature collections. Designate a table or room for Lego building. Assign a table or room for writing and school book-work. Set aside a corner or room for books and reading. An area for arts and crafts, and a wall to create your own personal “art museum” with your children’s art.
Make a workplace in your garage, your basement, or a shed where you and your children can create larger messes.
Living = Doing
Living involves doing, and doing makes messes. Your family won’t be happy if they can’t do anything because they live in fear of making a mess.
If you have trouble tolerating the mess that happens with children, then create a place in your home that is just for you. A place where you can rest your eyes and just be without seeing the mess that comes with children’s activities.
Involve your children in your life
What is your work, community involvement, hobbies, interests? Include your children in that work.
Talk about your work with your children and include them in doing your work when it’s applicable. No matter how big or small your work is, involve your children.
Take them along with you for whatever you’re doing as much as possible. A saying we’ve used at our house is: “Watching is learning.”
Involve them when they’re young to create helpers as they grow
When doing your home management work; include the children, even your youngest ones. As they get older, give them assigned chores and teach them how-to skills.
Talk about life as you work. Explore the ideas for what, where, when, why, and how – with everything you do for your work. This teaches critical thinking and might give you a few different and possibly helpful perspectives on your work.
Go outside and explore
Learn about animals and put out bird feeders, bird baths, and bat houses. Plant flowers, trees, and bushes for wildlife. Get books and learn about the wildlife in your area. Take your children to classes at your local parks.
Go places and do things
Explore your local parks and nature preserves and take trips to see natural wonders. Visit your state parks and national parks.
Leading up to bigger trips, learn about what you’ll see before you go. Do preparatory reading, watch documentaries, and do related activities to enrich the experience. Many times, the parks have educational materials for this purpose on their websites.
Learn by doing
These types of experiences are so much more rewarding than learning from a textbook. If you’re going to enjoy the homeschool life, learning in fun ways is key!
There is so much to learn simply from going outside and having real world experiences. The children can run, stretch, jump, climb, and explore which is great for the body and mind.
Visit museums and historical sites
Study an era in history and then go to the location where a piece of it occurred. Explore, and walk the same steps as the people you learned about. Explore all sides of the historical event and discuss ideas as you learn together.
Again, learning history this way makes it come alive in a way that isn’t possible through a textbook.
Use books, documentaries, and historical documents to lead up to the trip. Doing so will give background and context, then the site becomes more real as it’s explored.
It’s so rewarding to watch imaginations light up with an experience that uses all the senses.
Ask questions and explore answers all the time. Make your world bigger by thinking through ideas and having conversations.
Each age of development has different ways of thinking and processing. Take the time to learn about child development and communicate with each age appropriately, but don’t underestimate their ability to process and understand.
Your children won’t be able to converse on an adult level, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have conversations. Don’t treat a child like they’re dumb or stupid (it can happen unintentionally, listen to yourself when you speak to them!), teach with kindness and explain gently.
Making conversation part of your daily life with children is education.
Keep your curriculum simple
Reading, handwriting, language arts, arithmetic, history, science, art, and music. Keep it simple and don’t be intimidated with an overwhelming or complicated curriculum for each subject area.
- Phonics for the non-reader: 15 minutes to an hour every day. Keep it child-dependent, paying attention to how much they can tolerate at a time. Beginning readers should read aloud for 15 minutes. [15 minutes]
- Readers: spend 30-60 minutes per day reading. Have the children narrate back what they’ve read. [30-60 minutes]
- Handwriting workbook/copywork [15 minutes]
- Math: after 20+ years and 9 children, my favorites are Developmental Mathematics by L. George Saad, Elementary Algebra by Harold Jacobs (covers Algebra 1 and 2), Geometry by Harold Jacobs. [15-60 minutes]
- Language Arts: Abeka is very thorough but there are many good language arts workbooks that teach grammar basics. [30-60 minutes]
- History: Choose an era to study together as a family and read aloud for an hour every day. Use a globe and incorporate geography into it. Assign a topic or issue to write about. [60-90 minutes]
- Science: Choose a topic (start with what interests you personally) and study it as a family. Read aloud and do experiments or explorations all together. You can do science on one day or spread it through the week. [30-60 minutes]
- Art: choose an artist every month to read about and copy their technique. Use online resources. Choose one or two days of the week for art. [30-60 minutes]
- Music: choose an era, genre, or artist to read about and listen to their music. Use online resources. Read about it once a week or so at lunchtime and listen to the music during part of the day. [30-60 minutes]
With history, science, art, and music, start with what interests you personally. This will make it more interesting and easier to bring into your life.
School doesn’t have to be all day
Little children can complete their schoolwork in less than 2-3 hours depending on the child. I’ve had elementary age children get up early and finish their schoolwork before breakfast!
Older children who have more reading and writing assignments and longer math lessons will take a longer time.
Keep the children’s school books organized so each child has a shelf, basket, or tote for only the books they are currently using.
Game-schooling is keeping games in your home that teach. Learning by playing! What better way could there be to enjoy the homeschool life than to incorporate learning into play?
Make a time of day for playing games and having fun. Game-schooling is a relaxed way of learning and a great way to have fun with your children.
Another fun way to game-school is to get together with other families to play games. There are even game schooling groups on Facebook that can help you identify appropriate games for ages, subject areas, and sources for purchasing.
Homeschooling Can Be Fun!
Homeschooling can be fun if you intentionally build it into your lifestyle. It’s up to you to look at it that way- as a lifestyle.
Start looking at life through the eyes of a child and seeing the world as a plethora of subjects to learn about. For a bonus, you’ll build relationships with your children and create a more close-knit family.
Make Homeschooling fit your unique family
Each family is unique and will come up with their own home school lifestyle. Don’t get caught up by trying to model another family’s way of doing.
Think about who you are, your goals for your family, and embrace a lifestyle of learning to suit your life and family. To truly enjoy the homeschool life, you must make it your own and tailor it to fit YOUR family.
For more great homeschooling tips and home management hacks, check out our Free Resource Library!