I read a book in parts and pieces at a book store and liked it so much that I later purchased it. The main premise of the book is that Everything is Figureoutable; the ultimate growth mindset. It is a perfect phrase to be continually testifying to yourself. I say it to myself all the time. Cause, true confessions, life makes it easy to get stuck.
We get stuck with people and circumstances. All.the.time.
And Homeschooling, by its very nature, gives us many, many opportunities to get stuck. Stuck, but good.
Homeschooling is Figureoutable!
Most of us have little-to-no training about child-rearing, education, or even the basics of homemaking or bill paying. Many of us can’t cook in early adulthood, don’t like to clean, and avoid paying bills. But adulthood requires that we figure stuff out. That, or we stay stuck and feel frustrated. Sometimes we stay stuck for a very long time. We think we aren’t good with money. Or we missed the grammar gene. Or we are not creative. We keep ourselves stuck because we don’t believe we have what it takes. Can I get a witness?
The good news about homeschooling and home management is that it is figureoutable. And honestly, once we’ve figured it out, it can be gratifying work: soul-filling and world-changing work.
Don’t Get Stuck
However, if you’ve been thrust into homeschooling, or are trying to do it while working, or brought your kids with an undiagnosed learning difficulty home, getting things figured out can be overwhelming. So, let me help with some basic lists of things you might want to figure out. It’s not exhaustive or personalized; it’s just a starting place. A place to take a stand and feel successful once you’ve figured out a few things so that you can continue gaining skills and so that the next success seems even more attainable.
Things you will need to figure out to homeschool well:
- What is your teaching style?
- How much time do you have to teach, given your other responsibilities?
- What are your kids’ learning styles (to shore up your students’ areas of challenge and to utilize their areas of nature ability)
- What educational pedagogies produce the results you are looking for?
- Is your student gifted, 2E, LD, or at a traditional grade level? The greater the disparity between your student’s ability and areas of challenge, the more easily frustrated they might feel –and that goes back to the figureoutability – but that’s a whole different conversation.
- What is your minimum and maximum budget for books and curriculum?
- What resources do you have for travel and experience-based learning?
- What will you give up to homeschool? Time, money, resources, a career, advancement, etc.?
- Where in your house (or out of it) will you homeschool?
- What storage areas do you have available to house homeschooling supplies such as books, curriculum, writing utensils, computers, printers, etc.?
- What will be your basic schedule?
- What is your goal for homeschooling?
- What is your strategy for accomplishing your homeschooling goal?
- Which parent will be primarily responsible for homeschooling?
- Who will you homeschool with? A co-op, in-person classes, online programs, a hybrid, or UMS?
- What unique resources do you bring to the table as you homeschool? Are you an RV family? Do you own your own business, travel extensively, or is Grandma available to take one or more of the kids regularly?
- What will free time look like for your kids?
- What will your morning and evening routines consist of?
- How will the homeschooling day begin?
- How will the homeschooling day end?
- How will you manage electronics in your home?
- How will you know if homeschooling is a success?
- Will you homeschool all of your kids?
- Will you homeschool them using the same pedagogy and curriculum?
Related things to figure out:
- How will meal planning, shopping, prep, and clean-up be managed?
- How will clothes and laundry be managed- gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting clothes away?
- How will schedules be managed? This becomes more important to figure out as the parent(s) have more outside responsibilities like jobs or caring for an elderly relative?
- Who will pay the bills and set the budget for homeschooling expenses, activities, experiences, and travel?
- Who will transport kids to activities, programs, therapies, and the like?
Figuring it All Out
Homeschooling does not have to be complicated. But homeschooling is work. We dedicate time and resources towards it, and like all work, the more we can adequately do the prep work and plan the execution, the more successful we’ll be at meeting our goals and launching our kids.
But don’t worry. What you don’t know currently is figureoutable. And every success you have will lead to another success. Every obstacle overcome is one step closer to your goal. You’ve got this, Momma!
If you’re looking for a community of like-minded homeschoolers headed True North, we’d love to have you join our community! Let us help each other “figure it ALL out” with encouragement and support – plus free training, advice, and resources to help you figure out the challenges you face!
And if you want to read more about homeschool organization and planning, take a look at our resources for Homeschooling 101- Where to Begin and tips for how to Manage My Home & Time or encouragement and resources for families of children with special needs.
Get Some Sleep!
I’ve said before that sleep can never be overrated. It’s so important to get adequate rest when one is working hard. And let’s face it, managing a home, parenting and homeschooling are all hard work. It takes brainpower including creativity, critical thinking and communication skills, a fantastic sense of humor, and the ability to improvise, adapt and overcome in almost any given situation. Phew! I get tired just thinking about it!
Years ago I heard Jesse Wise (Mom to Susan Wise Bauer) say that there was little that a nap or a snack couldn’t fix. I think it’s an important reminder that our kids often need simple re-sets and re-fuel to function well.
And it’s not bad advice for us mommas, too. I have said for years that good sleep is cheap medicine, and we would all do better to adequate time off from work, including homeschooling, and make sure that we have good, uninterrupted sleep, and rest when we need it.
So, how do you rest- especially those of us who are working, homeschooling, managing house- the list is endless-and how do you get a great night’s sleep?
Schedule Sleep. Put it on the calendar.
- What days will be screen-free?
- What days will be work-free?
- What days will be free from formal schooling?
- When will you and the kids begin winding down in the evening –schedule 30 minutes for your wind-down routine?
- When will you and the kids go to sleep at night?
- When will you and the kids wake up in the morning? Regular wake-times help with better sleep
Create end-of-day routines for both kids and you so that you can get good sleep.
- Adequate water throughout the day
- Adequate green therapy throughout the day
- Adequate exercise and movement throughout the day
- Don’t eat late in the evening
- Cut down on the caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- Cal-Mag drink or lotion
- Screen-free for an hour before bedtime
- Supplements if you take them
- Epson salt foot bath or bath
- Relaxing music or bedtime story
- Simple phrases or cues for kids, such as bedtime stories
- Lights lowered and household activity quieted
- Turn off the Wi-Fi and gather phones for the evening
- Limit napping
Create sleeping spaces that are welcoming and cue rest/sleep.
- Make bedrooms screen and electronic free, including phones
- Block out light
- Block out noise – use a white noise machine or fan if you need it
- Set up a cool room temperature
- Create a peaceful environment that is set aside for sleeping
- No reading or eating or other activity in bed
- Paint your bedrooms a soothing blue – blue sends a message to your brain that you’re in a calm environment, lowering your heart rate and your blood pressure. Yellow and Green are also great colors for bedrooms, while purple, gray, brown, and red stimulate your brain and rev you up
- Establish regular sleeping and waking habits.
- Manage stress before going to sleep- journal, pray, practice deep breathing
Staying on Track
Getting adequate sleep improves performance and reaction times, including emotional regulation and judgment, as well as thinking skills such as memory, critical thinking, and creativity.
As every Momma knows, sleep deprivation can lead to grumpiness, lack of cooperation, and bad attitudes. Adequate rest and deep sleep are imperative for doing the very important and high-energy work of homeschooling.
Need help keeping on track? Our Mom’s Membership site is all about supporting you to do the hard work of homeschooling.
Will Homeschooling Ruin My Kids?
Will Homeschooling Ruin My Kids? It’s a question that gets asked by many new homeschoolers.
I like definitions, so let’s start there.
To ruin means to destroy or cause to disintegrate.
And since I’m assuming you are not a violent criminal posing as a homeschooler, let’s just take that off the table. So, the short answer is, “No,” you won’t ruin your kids by homeschooling them.
You will mold and shape them. And like all human interaction, it could go one of three ways.
- Really well
- Combo of really well and poorly
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but homeschooling is just a method of intentional education and parenting. It’s not a perfect method, it’s not foolproof or failsafe. We are imperfect, passionate people who are raising imperfect, passionate people, so the room for wild success and failure is vast.
BUT, like many things, there are things that you can do to ensure a more positive than negative outcome.
- You can choose an educational pedagogy that has been successful throughout the ages- not all education is created equal.
- You can choose quality literature, movies, and music – the old Sunday School song that admonishes, “Be Careful little eyes what you see, etc.” is so appropriate for child-rearing.
- You can choose to study- really study and wrestle and run after- your faith with your children.
- You can pray.
- You can partner with other like-minded people going in the same direction educationally and in life. True North, baby.
Will Homeschooling Ruin My Kids? I hear you, still asking and wondering!
But look. Even if you do all the “right” things -whatever that means- like you never get sick, discouraged, have financial difficulties or in-laws who undermine you or a bad hair day- your kids and you
might will make mistakes, be oppositional or go in the wrong direction. Maybe just slightly off track and maybe so off base, you wonder if either one of you will survive.
Us Mommas have a tough time with these kids living their own lives. They are our hearts, walking around outside of our bodies and we love them so. And when they suffer, we suffer. And homeschooling allows us to get to know each other really well, our strengths and our weaknesses, our joys and our sufferings.
And maybe that all sounds discouraging, but it’s just messy. Because people are messy. Your kids need an education. Who better to provide that education than their loving parents. It’s Biblical. It’s the way of the wealthy, educated elite: providing private, individualized instruction. And you have an investment in your kids in a way no one else will. Maybe you are not as equipped as you feel that you need to be, but honestly, that is easy to remedy by the following:
- Find a great educational pedagogy and the resources YOUR family needs to succeed*
- Find a tribe of like-minded travelers*
- Do the work homeschooling requires
- Have FUN and enjoy the fabulous journey that homeschooling can provide you and your precious children
Will homeschooling ruin your kids? The short easy answer is No.
Will Homeschooling Ruin My Kids? The more complex realistic answer is you will struggle, work, cry and experience joy. It is worth it.
*Need help? Our Academic Advising and Student & Mom’s Membership is designed to come alongside you for homeschooling success!
Business guru Seth Godin says, “Strategic Quitting is the Secret of Successful Organizations.”
Wow. Let that sink in during January of 2021. Because it felt like we all did a lot of quitting in 2020- quitting regular meet-ups with friends, live church, eating out, going to the gym, co-ops, class days, etc.
But that’s forced quitting, and hopefully, we’ll all be back to our life-giving communities SOON.
Strategic Quitting in Business
What about the things we need to give up: things that waste money, time, energy, goodwill, and our personal or collective resources? You know- the chocolate caramel treats you started buying in bulk around, say, March. Quitting that skanky show (you know the one). You won’t let your kids watch it, but you know isn’t so healthy for your attitudes either. The overpriced coffee you buy that blows your budget and supports causes you don’t—that type of quitting.
This month- as you think through habits and dreams, assess what you can cut out. Think through the fluff and fat. Lean up.
If you are in business, what you need to quit might be super obvious- or not. I was getting a recurring charge of $12.99 for a service I didn’t use (no biggie, but glad I caught it), and I was automatically enrolled in membership from a class that cost $129 a month (a definite biggie that I didn’t catch until several hundreds of dollars later (ouch)!
But that’s business. How does this apply to homeschooling?
Strategic Quitting in Your Homeschool
Are you clear about your academic, life, and soft skills goals for each kiddo, and are they current? A quarterly mom assessment is not a bad idea.
Are your kids moving forward, or are they frustrated and stuck?
Are you, as the homeschooling teacher, frustrated and stuck?
Remember the Goldilocks Principle as you teach and train your kids: not too hard, not too easy, one step beyond what they know. If you, or your kids, are constantly frustrated by a subject or skill, it might be time to quit giving in to that frustration.
Get some testing, invest in a mentor, or an academic advising session. Those kinds of investments cost pennies on the dollar, point you to effective tools, tips, and curriculum, plus save your child (and you) years of heartache and frustration.
Let’s Quit These Things Together
Do you dread using the curriculum you purchased but feel guilty about tossing it aside? Quit the mom guilt. Sell it or gift it and do something else. There’s plenty of great curriculum out there (some of it free) that will bring you joy. Quit cheating yourself because of guilt. And if you need permission, as a homeschooling vet of 30 years, I’m giving it to you.
Are you wasting time by not having clearly established rhythms and routines for your day? Quit letting life control you and set a realistic, doable schedule for you and your family. That means taking time to be aware of the natural rhythms and routines y’all have. It means being a student of your family.
Are your kids up way before you and ready to be productive, but you stayed up too late grabbing “me time”? Do you frequently sleep through your kids’ most productive hours of the day? Quit giving in to your emotions. Plan and schedule time so that you get re-fueled in a healthy way that feeds your entire family.
Are you constantly spending money on eating out because you didn’t meal plan? Quit putting off the inevitable. You and your people are going to need to eat. Multiple times a day, in fact, and learning how to plan meals and implement that plan will save you thousands of dollars and your health in the long run.
Is your clean unfolded laundry a permanent fixture on your couch because you ran out of time to fold and put it away? Quit thinking the laundry fairy will come to your rescue. Your Grandma probably had a weekly system that went something like this, “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, etc.” Create a doable laundry system; wash and dry throughout the week and then set aside 1-3 hours a week where everyone folds, hangs up and puts away laundry.
Addition by Subtraction
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Make 2021 the year you QUIT.
Quit anything that creates distractions and diverts you from your mission. This year, determine to GAIN peace, sanity, and productivity.
Need help, inspiration, and a community of like-minded mommas heading true north? Our Membership Site is just what you are looking for!
Re-Set for the Win!
I hear all the time that you need to “de-school” when you bring your kids home from public school. It drives me crazy because it’s probably not what your kids really need.
People say this because it places blame on something external (school) and removes guilt (you didn’t know what else to do, you’re not sure what you are going to do). But it’s really a myth.
What kids need when you bring them home from public school is a re-set.
A “re-set” allows for a growth mindset. De-schooling implies that school is the problem. And really it’s probably a delivery problem, or a pedagogy problem, or a seasonal problem; not necessarily a school problem.
Why not? I’m glad you asked. School is an important aspect of our culture. To “de-school” assigns a negative aspect to school. And I get it- maybe school was a negative thing in your kids’ life. But, listen; as parents, we need to help our kids learn to re-frame. This is a really important skill. And schooling will be a part of their lives for a while, maybe a long while, depending on what they do in life. And we want our kids to have a growth mindset when it comes to school, academics, and education, right?
Re-Set for the Win!
Re-sets imply that you are looking for alternatives, aren’t stuck, and realize that you have options. Even homeschoolers need the occasional re-set. Like when you run into Covid and it wrecks your schedule, or you go back to work but keep homeschooling, or someone gets sick or has an accident or your kids become teenagers or you hit menopause. What was working might not work anymore. But, seriously, it’s not that big of a deal. You just hit re-set.
So, what’s a re-set, anyway?
A re-set is when you set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way.
As I look back, I see some examples of re-sets in my life that I’d like to share:
- When we moved across the country with five kids, one of which was a nursing babe, we spent the spring painting the house from ceiling to floorboards and packing up. Lots of life skills, great books on tape, and hospitality happened that spring!
- When we lived in a hotel for six weeks and then ten months in a rental after our house fire. We spent hours at the hotel pool, watched a crazy number of movies, and listened to Story of the World on CD so much that my then 9-year-old had parts of it memorized. We did Writing With Ease every morning poolside because my then littles revealed in the routine of school. Once we hit the rental, we spent hours sorting, inventorying damaged belongings and staining, painting, tiling, drywalling, brick-laying, etc as we remodeled. Maybe not a very “scholastic” year, but boy-howdy, our kids learned a lot of life skills, like dry-walling, but also resiliency and how to tackle a massive project – like a house remodel.
- When I went back to work and we kept homeschooling- we made use of enrichment and academic co-ops and did school 3 days a week. Our Morning Basket was a really important part of our staying connected during that time.
- When all of our kids grew up and moved on to college and beyond except our youngest. She does the majority of her school online now and our homeschooling consists of great discussions and her sharing newfound knowledge that goes beyond my expertise in areas that are of great interest to her.
Re-sets are just part of life and can provide a positive re-frame. Especially when you find yourself pivoting in your educational choices or in life in general. As we head into 2021, it’s a great time to assess what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what needs a re-set.
Tell me your thoughts on the issues! I’d love to know!
I’ve homeschooled for twenty-nine years and one thing that has remained consistent in the homeschooling community is that homeschoolers get nervous when it’s time to think about homeschooling high school.
However, in today’s times, it’s easy (and fun) to homeschool during the high school years!
What makes it so great to homeschool high school?
First, you can customize the curriculum for your student.
The online world has exploded, and blended learning is genuinely the homeschool high schoolers’ secret weapon.
Online education makes it easy for our teens to pursue areas of interest and passions, adding a depth of knowledge that can’t be recreated in a public school setting. Your children will have time to read widely and then dive deeply into subjects that interest them.
We’ve known many homeschool high schoolers and graduates who have traveled extensively doing missions work in the country and internationally, in big cities and small villages, on medical and teaching and drama teams.
This customized hands-on training is a valuable life experience – one that can’t be replicated in a classroom.
If something isn’t working, you can change it.
Not every student, or even every sibling, learns the same way. With homeschooling, we have the opportunity to teach the way our children learn best. Maybe you have a hands-on learner AND an online learner in your family. You can accommodate both of their needs by homeschooling high school.
Next, opportunities for electives have exploded.
Online courses abound, both live and pre-recorded or self-paced. You can find OCW (Open Course Ware) from colleges and universities. YouTube and Ted Talks are also fantastic for high school students. The options are so numerous it’s hard to keep up with it all!
Electives can also be pursued at your local college or trade school.
Learning opportunities are only limited by your ability to get out and pursue them.
Technology allows foreign language and cultural studies to be up close and personal.
For example, my daughter interacts weekly with her Hebrew language instructor. He is in Israel and we are in the upper north Midwest; worlds apart and yet uniquely connected. Fellow students will be traveling to Israel later this year and plan to meet the Rabbi on their travels.
The world has gotten smaller and more accessible!
Homeschooling during high school is growing in popularity, and with this growth comes more opportunity!
Today, there are camps that market specifically to the homeschooler.
Some of these include TeenPact, Summit Ministries, Patrick Henry Camps, and more. Don’t overlook local offerings! My kids have been heavily involved in theater and performing Shakespeare for years, thanks to local enterprising moms with vision and talent.
And if you are worried about college credits and what’s beyond high school, take heart.
Here, too, opportunities abound. Many states offer inexpensive dual enrollment credits, many of which can be completed online. Post High School programs such as Apprentice University and Praxis offer kids fantastic life skills, job training, and opportunities for networking, all while allowing the kids to work while schooling.
They can graduate debt-free and skill-rich.
Also, homeschool high school help is available right at your fingertips.
You can outsource classes that you are insecure about teaching, or that you simply don’t have time for. If your child is struggling, help is easy to find. Google is an excellent source of information, and if you are still struggling, you can find academic advising or consultation.
Online support groups also abound! For example, our Facebook group, True North Homeschool Tribe is a great place to find wisdom and encouragement for homeschooling your high schooler. We share curriculum, resources, great jokes, and support. You aren’t doing this alone!
Homeschooling high school affords us time with them before they launch into the world as independent young adults.
Relationships built during these high school years are priceless!
The days may be long, but the years are oh-so-short.
Homeschooling High School allows us to enjoy that precious time with these amazing young people whom we love so much.
Not sure where to start homeschooling High School? Our Academic Advising program is designed to take the worry and stress out and leave you with an actionable plan that will launch your students well!