A homeschool is only successful if you are prepared. This takes forethought and time on your part. Prep time needs to be somewhere in your plan. Here are a few of my secrets that allow me to plan ahead.
I give myself prep time
My hubby graciously allows me several hours on Sunday evening as my preparation time. He keeps the kids busy and they have some fun play time with him. Then he puts them to bed and he even does some house cleaning for me. This gives me several hours of completely uninterrupted time in which I can prepare for my week. In this time, I make copies, print pages, grade papers, cut out pieces for our projects, lay out supplies, and reorganize the school room after the chaos of the previous week. By Monday morning I have all my papers and supplies organized and ready to go.
I read ahead
I didn’t exactly receive a classical education, so some days I have no idea what I’m doing as I try to provide one for my children. I can’t say I learned much about the ancient world and I never studied astronomy or botany in-depth. So, I prepare for my school days by reading ahead. Yes, I often read through my kids’ books and texts so I can feel ready to tackle our new week. I’m armed with some new knowledge and feel better equipped to answer their questions or lead discussions. And I even pre-read our literature selections so I’m not caught unaware of sensitive topics that will require discussion.
I use my summers wisely
Summer time is a break from our normal routine, although we do still do some light school work in math and reading. We also do fun projects and unit studies. But summer is still a time of less work and less planning and much more swimming and free play. I focus on encouragement and renewal and my own education. I read some classics – I’ve read all of Austen’s works and I discovered I enjoyed reading all the Sherlock Holmes books by Doyle. Next on my list are all the works by Twain and Dickens. I also choose a few books or resources to give me new insights for parenting and teaching.
A few of my favorite resources are:
The Well-Trained Mind
Home Learning Year by Year
The Read Aloud Handbook
The 5 Love Languages of Children
The Mission of Motherhood
Effective Parenting in a Defective World
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
The Homeschool Experiment
The Rainbow Resource Catalog
Prepare your children for independence
Right now my kids are all very young and they need me for just about everything. But I hope that I’m preparing them for independence and instilling some responsibility in them even at this age. I am preparing them for working independently. I start with small steps like printing off simple schedules that they can follow. I also write give them short assignments to complete without my help. And I have colorful planners for them to keep track of their own assignments as they get older. One day I will not have to remind them 100 times to finish their math page. I work toward and prepare for that day!
I prepare for burn out
If you homeschool you are going to face burn-out sooner rather than later. And you will burn out again and again. Some of your burn outs will be more like a crash and burn while others happen more in slow motion. No matter how you experience burn-out, know that it will happen. So, be prepared for when it does! Have some encouraging articles and books to help you refocus and find a new desire to homeschool. Have some time off already written in your schedule. Allow yourself a break and have some unit studies, fun art projects, and science experiments ready to go for days when you need a break from routine. And stock up on wonderful educational DVD’s, games, and computer games for when you need a break. When you’re prepared for burn out, you can face it without fear, find some rest, and flow back into your school routine.
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