We’re still young in our homeschool journey. Despite our homeschooling infancy, in the past few years I’ve discovered some valuable tools that I would never leave behind. These are the things that make homeschooling life work for us and help me keep my sanity when I’m getting overwhelmed.
10 Things I Can’t Homeschool Without
For our family this is the most important part of not only homeschooling, but family life in general. It’s a necessary skill kids will need as they move into adulthood and the working world, but it also makes homeschooling so much easier. We’ve taught the kids how to ask for help when needed, how to communicate their frustrations, how to explain things, they’ve even learned some public speaking skills. We practice follow up questions and how to hold a conversation with friends, including listening skills. All of this helps boost their social skills and efficiency and effectiveness of their schooling. It goes both ways though, not just an expectation of the kids, but as adults, we need to make sure we’re fully communicating and following up as well. It’s a team effort.
Not just friends for the kids, either. I love my kids. There is absolutely no question about that, but spending all day talking only to the kids can fry my brain a bit. I need adult conversation with my own friends too. Phone calls, coffee dates, or even hanging out with other parents at the playground. Nurturing these friendships also helps remind me the importance of teaching the kids how to build meaningful friendships at a young age.
3. Support System
Speaking of friends, a support system is extremely important too. I made this point separate from friends because a support system is usually bigger than just a circle of friends. The support system can include everyone who has the ability to help your family. It can include piano teachers or other instructors, doctors or other experts in your life, neighbors, friends, family, or even the familiar stranger at the coffee shop. Think about your needs and get the help you need. Don’t be afraid to ask. We survive best when relationships are give and take, rather than all give or all take. You can be the support for others when they need it, but don’t forget they can support you when you need it too.
4. Me Time
With all of this talk of being with other people don’t forget to take me time. Take a break from the chaos of life and the constant barrage of questions (especially if your kids are still fairly young). Make a mental list (or even a written list) of everything you enjoy. Cup of coffee, manicure, afternoon nap, knitting? Whatever it carve out some time and a quiet space for you to have this time daily. Having that personal break will be amazing for your mental health and your patience with the kids.
5. Library Card
I can’t imagine homeschooling without the library. It helps that I was basically raised in a library since my mom is a librarian, but still the free resources are amazing. Plus if the library doesn’t have the book you need you can interlibrary loan for a low cost sometimes free. Technology, community events, meeting room spaces, study rooms, and more. The library has been one of the best educational resources in our homeschool life. It’s not uncommon for us to have up to 100 books checked out at any given time and we try to rotate things out every week or two.
This one is pretty obvious for most homeschoolers I’m sure. Resources, recommendations, support groups, forums, and pinterest. I’ve learned so much about homeschooling thanks to the Internet. I’ve connected with like-minded homeschooling families. There is a never ending supply of tips and ideas to enhance homeschooling, and so much of it is free. I honestly couldn’t do what I do with homeschooling without the Internet. It’s a must have for us.
Clubs, co ops, playgroups, tour groups, Facebook groups and classes. It doesn’t matter what form the group comes in, they are important to our homeschool. This is just another way our homeschool finds community, friends, and group learning. Plus, it gives parents a break and a chance for the kids to interact with other people of all ages.
8. The Power of No
Sometimes in order to say yes to homeschooling you have to say no to some things. On a daily basis my social media feeds and emails are filled with homeschooling activities, community events, and a variety of invites to various homeschool group events. We can’t do them all. There just aren’t enough hours in a day and my liquid energy can only take me so far. I have to say no to several activities, which is a good thing. We don’t burn out, and it gives the kids a chance to practice decision making. They learn to weigh the pros and cons of the activities and learn that the word no can be a good thing, even if there is a bit of disappointment that goes along with it.
On this same note, I’m also asked to help organize or head up a variety of events. I already have a full plate of events I head up, so I know if I take on more they all will suffer. I’d rather have quality events and activities for the kids rather than a large quantity of them.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision into the microcosm of our own family world while homeschooling. We’re aware of all of the obstacles, all of the glitches, all of the things that aren’t working right now because we’re involved in it every day and constantly observing it. We see so many happy moments from others on social media, we hear about the big successes of other homeschool families, and it becomes to easy to compare ourselves to them. Telling ourselves we should be doing just as well as these other families. It’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Most people are only sharing the picture perfect moments of their life. They’re not sharing the challenges and obstacles. Take a moment and look at all of the successes you’ve had in your own homeschooling journey. The moments when the kids have found absolute joy exploring nature, the moment when a difficult concept finally clicked, or when they resolved a problem on their own when they normally would have asked for help. Our successes may look different, but they are there.
Have you ever noticed the world is filled with information? A lot of it. I want to teach my kids all of it. Every single detail, because it’s all important. Right? This is how I started our homeschooling journey. It was pure chaos. There was no organization, worksheets everywhere, books on a wide variety of topics, and we never seemed to be learning about the same thing for more than a few minutes. We jumped from concept to concept, and I had no idea what I was doing. Now that all of the discord is out of my system we’ve been able to break things down into a more organized format. We found our focus. We know what our educational goals are and what our vision of success is. Once we figured that out we could start building a better plan of action to achieve those goals and made sure everything was working toward our vision. Focus has made a huge impact on our homeschooling life.
What are your top needs for successful homeschooling? Share your ideas in the comments below.