Whew! You have worked really hard at preparing for the upcoming school year, by examining calendars and time commitments, researching curriculum options, and putting all the pieces together into one beautiful homeschool schedule. Now how do you follow through and make your homeschool plan happen?
I discussed this a bit during Part 3: Scheduling, but I want to expand on this idea. We have to plan for the white space in our lives, so that when interruptions come and plans change, we have the flexibility to continue on without getting frustrated and losing hope. When I work out a daily schedule for myself, I over compensate for how much time I allow for each activity. On many days I have a lot of extra space to catch up on projects, write blog posts, visit with friends, and tackle a new project, but I have also allowed that space for a fussy toddler or an emotional teenager.
As I have a habit of being totally transparent, it’s not as glorious as it sounds, but it does reduce the frustrations and stress when things don’t go as planned. It sounds like I have tons of time to do amazing fun projects, but most of my scheduled time is homeschooling with pockets of time to work on the huge pile of projects I so willingly add. I schedule in reading time on Sundays, just so I will remember to stop, rest and read something new!
So I just discussed two kinds of margin.
- Leaving space for unforseen circumstances.
- Leaving space for rest, regardless of your to-do list.
These two margins in your life will propel you into a successful homeschool plan.
Oh! This is a tough one. We are homeschool moms! We have the freedom to make our own schedules and beat our own drum. We relish in the flexible and spontaneous life we have bestowed upon our children. These make great aspects of our homeschool lifestyle, but consistency can not be thrown out the window!
Children need consistency in behavioral expectations, schedule, and love. Let’s look at each of these areas and how they impact our homeschool plan.
Our children need to know what we expect of them at home and in public. Behavioral training should happen before academic education. We are growing children of God, to seek Him and serve Him. That is our first mission. I have been known to take “vacation” from school work to simply work on behavior. We spend a week doing focused Bible studies in the morning and spending the remainder of the day in service opportunities. Chores, helping neighbors, serving at church or picking up trash in the neighborhood all could be part of this character training week.
Our children need to know what is expected of them and then, we, as parents, have to consistently remind them of those expectations. I highly recommend Doorposts character training materials. These are quick easy charts, backed with scripture, so that we can quickly address the current behavioral dilemma. Together as parents, we need to pre-determine the discipline and reward for certain behaviors. This simple step reduces the anger and frustration during the crisis situation.
I’m not living in a fantasy world. I realize that every day will not look the same, that we have nursing babies that make their own schedules, and some times we have to call a sick day. But there needs to be a consistent flow to your day. I don’t set our day by times, but more have a flow of events. If we are home during the week, the flow will be the same everyday. They know what to expect, which creates less squabbles and more compliant children.
Set your day into blocks of time and then determine in what order events happen in your home. For example our morning block looks like this:
- Clean up
- Book Basket
- Memory Work
- Book Work
- Free Play
Even the youngest can figure out what comes next if this flow is followed consistently. And when I have to step out of the house for doctor appointments or other engagements, the remaining kids at home can continue with their day, knowing what needs to be accomplished.
Grace and mercy are necessary. As homeschool moms, we rarely get breaks from our kids and they always have the same teacher. It’s easy for grace to be forgotten and frustration to sit in it’s place. As our child’s parent and teacher, we don’t want them confusing our love and our academic expectations as being connected. This isn’t directly tied to “making it happen” in our homeschool, but indirectly it’s important to note. Having unconditional love, regardless of their school accomplishments or failures, builds a strong relationship and a more peaceful home. These things are way more important than academic success.
We have dedicated our lives to raising Godly children and using homeschooling as a tool in that mission. Be diligent, determined, and driven to give your children your best! Don’t give up easily and always be willing to change things up when needed. God has picked you out specifically to raise your children. He has given you the tools necessary to raise men and women in His strength. Be tenacious!
Check out the rest of the series:
4: Making it Happen