Homeschool is a natural extension of our life, and the beauty is that you can create it to look how you want it to. It can be fun and meaningful. If you are in this season of life with me and have had a few more bad days than good lately, I just wanted to share some tips that may help you keep your head up on those cloudy days.
Why Homeschool Can Be Challenging
First, let’s unpack some of the ways it seems to feel so difficult (at least for me!):
Feeling overwhelmed. Husband traveling, extracurriculars, packed schedules, and other commitments. It feels hard because it’s so overwhelming, and it’s all on you. It can be both good and bad if you have a spouse working from home while you’re schooling. For instance, we have to be mindful of Dad’s meetings and keep our volume in check. But it’s also amazing when he can take a quick break and throw the football around. Truly, the concept in and of itself should be simple, but we complicate it by allowing other things to creep in and make it more difficult (curriculum choices, too much curriculum, etc. — check out my other blog for more tips there!). Let’s remember to keep it simple! After all, school at home is meant to be just that with all its benefits — no commuting and rushing, packing lunches, etc.
Everything else. If we only had to homeschool, it may feel more manageable. But we also still have to parent, plan and make meals, get the groceries, feed the baby, do the dishes and laundry, etc. Many of us have worked from home during the pandemic, and I tend to approach homeschooling the same way I did working from home. Our school room is sacred and I do not allow myself or my kids to run around the house doing other things during our scheduled school time. Of course, there are quick exceptions — let the dog out, run and get a snack. But this has helped us stay the course and get our work done sooner so we can enjoy the afternoon.
Road bumps. Kids not listening/fighting, schedule changes (Did I really just schedule that dentist appointment in the middle of the day?), car trouble, illness, etc. These things are truly unavoidable and just part of life — you will learn with time when it’s best to pause, let the kids play, and deal with said issue or press on. It truly depends on the situation and the moment. But if you are homeschooling multiple kids, chances are they’ll learn to get along better and you with them.
“It is essential to remember that homeschooling only uncovers weaknesses in relationships; it does not create them.” –Leslie Nunary
Keys to a Successful Homeschool Experience
I’ve tried to break this down very simply, so here are the top things that I think can help you be more successful as a homeschool mom (or dad):
Stay controlled and calm. I heard on a podcast a great analogy of how we need to be first responders for our kids. Picture yourself having just been in a car accident and a paramedic shows up at the scene and starts screaming and panicking. How would you feel and respond? Not great, right? Opposite of what you need. We need to remember to keep our parent hat on even when we’re frustrated with any of the above-mentioned things, or our kids will pick up on it. Anxiety is contagious, but good news: so is calm. Oftentimes our kids match our energy and Mom’s mood can set the tone for the day. That can feel like a lot is on you, and I also think it’s okay to be vulnerable and have tired or difficult days, but trying our best to show up with our kids each day will go such a long way. And bonus, we’re setting an example and showing them how to stay the course even when they don’t feel like it. Believe me, I’ve seen and experienced it firsthand.
Foster connection. One of the biggest benefits of homeschool, if not THE biggest, is how connected you will feel to your kids. But we need to put in the hard work and make sure it’s not just surface level. This is also an essential tool in relationships you’ll encounter throughout your life. I’ve worked in sales, and when you take the time to connect with someone and they feel understood, seen, and heard, they are more open to your suggestions because they trust you. The same is true for our personal relationships. If we don’t listen to our kids when they need to talk and get their emotions out, how receptive do you think they’ll be towards your schooling instruction?
Develop habits. Another huge benefit to homeschool is having more time to teach your kids good habits. They have a first-hand look into how you handle day-to-day stress and responsibility, and when they’re old enough, you can also offload some chores on them and teach them how to be good humans. You set the tone for how your household runs (and continues to run if and when you have to leave) and help them develop lifelong habits in the meantime.
“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days. While she who lets the habits take care of themselves will have a weary life of endless friction with the children.” –Charlotte Mason