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!
Holidays! I absolutely LOVE the holidays! Just the thought of them makes me smile so hard that my cheeks hurt. In this article, I want to share some of my favorite holiday memories.
As a child, I enjoyed making ornaments at school because I knew that my Mom would treasure them. Our real, six-foot, Douglas fir tree was adorned with three kids’ worth of ornaments and the number grew with every school year. The thing that I loved most was that nothing else went on the tree but those and maybe some garland!
Do you and your family make ornaments of any kind, especially edible ones?
Aside from this, my favorite holiday pastime was stealing the pineapples and cherries off the ham before it went in the oven! My mom didn’t figure out it was me until the bowl disappeared and reappeared empty. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen after that!
Do you have one in your home who simply can NOT wait for you to stop cooking or to walk away while they sneak in for the kill? Who gets run out of the kitchen at your house?
Making memories is what the holidays are all about! Whether it’s your entire family or only those who live in your home with you, make memories! Start new traditions, too.
I remember the year that we had steak, baked potatoes, and salad for Christmas dinner instead of the traditional foods we were used to having. Let’s just say that there were NO leftovers!
What’s the craziest or most different meal you’ve had for the holidays?
As a teenager, my best friend and I would go to the movies on Christmas morning to keep from having to help with the cooking. By the time we were done, our families were eating and we always seemed to make it home right when the blessing was being said!
Do you have a favorite movie that you like to watch during the Christmas season?
In college, I spent those same times volunteering at local shelters and missions, serving the homeless. I can remember helping to de-bone 250 turkeys, sending 30 back to the restaurant who donated them because they weren’t completely cooked. As I stirred a restaurant-sized vat of cornbread dressing and then moved to open 100 cans of bulk-sized cranberry sauce, I didn’t want to see or hear anything that resembled food!
Do you and your family volunteer anywhere during the holidays or go caroling? What are some of the ways that you spread the love?
This year, one of the things we will be doing is the Luke Bible reading challenge where, beginning on December first, we will read the corresponding chapter of Luke together as a family. According to the challenge, families who participate will read through Jesus’ entire life by Christmas Eve.
Will you be reading anything special as a family during the holidays? Would our holiday booklist be of interest to you?
I’m already preparing myself to argue with my daughter about her selection of Netflix Original Christmas Movies, which seem to make their way to the list on MY profile around this time of the month.
Do you have a favorite Hallmark or a Netflix Original Christmas movie that is part of your family’s traditions? Check out more Holiday Traditions and a list of the new Hallmark movies here- maybe you will find a new holiday favorite.
One important thing about the holidays is to make them your own—that’s what makes them special! Your holiday celebrations don’t have to look like anyone else’s, so don’t stress yourself out trying to overdo things. Most families get into the most financial trouble during the holidays and overspend on pretty much anything during this time!
- It’s okay to give gifts, not to give gifts, or to give gifts on a different day…
- It’s okay to decorate a little, a lot, or not at all…
- It’s okay to rest, relax, and order out instead of cooking…
- It’s okay to celebrate away from home or with friends instead of family…
- It’s okay to have a crowd, a few close friends, or only you and yours…
- It’s okay to take a break from Life itself…
- It’s okay to argue about why matching pajamas are or aren’t okay for your family…
- It’s okay to have an overabundance of hot beverages just so everyone can have their favorites…
The holidays are YOURS, so let them reflect you!
About the author: Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host!
The Advent Celebration Challenge
Enjoy the benefit of our many collective years of homeschooling through the holidays and read some more articles that help bring home the beauty and truth of the season: a helpful reminder that Less is More For the Holidays and our Special Needs Holiday Edition.
Let’s face the challenge of THIS advent season together. Join us at our Facebook Group where we will have live presentations and check-ins to help us all keep our focus during this Christmas season. If you have always wanted to know more about creating a Jesse Tree as part of your celebration or more about Advent itself, you won’t want to miss the adventure! It’s no pressure – just a guide- and we will do it together.
Here is the schedule but we will also post reminders in the group and on our Facebook Page and Instagram so be sure to follow us! Or print out a 2020 schedule HERE.
The Accidental Homeschooler
The Accidental Homeschooler. It kind of went something like this, “Mom, you can just homeschool me!” My 8-year-old daughter begged. Her excitement and hope confused me.
She did great in school, had so many friends, and wasn’t struggling academically at all. It was at home the meltdowns occurred. Her frustration would reach a boiling point that would bubble over and leave tears streaming down her beautiful cheeks. Her wide blue eyes would spill over with tears, and the sparkle was becoming rarer. It was at home, not at school, that the temper tantrums would occur.
I laughed. There is no way I could homeschool her. We fought with each other all the time. Our frustration would reach points where I am not sure we liked each other at all. Oh sure, we loved each other…but we really didn’t enjoy spending time together. Homeschool her? Why would I? We would kill each other. I DID NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE TO HOMESCHOOL THIS CHILD.
God Had Other Plans
I prayed, “God if you want me to homeschool my children, I need you to change my heart.” I was sure the answer would be to leave them in the amazing school they were in! They were doing so well. All three of my girls had great friends. They had teachers I loved! GREAT teachers. A community that involved parents and families.
Also, I Do Not Own Any Denim Jumpers!
And then I had an epiphany. I realized I missed my children. I could tell my youngest was a struggling learner, and my oldest was growing up so fast. That middle child, the one that just wanted her mommy to see her, she just needed to not be overwhelmed by the end of the day. Our days consisted of getting up early, loading up to drive to school, being at school all day, activities at night, go home, fast supper, clean-up, do homework, get ready for the next day, and repeat. This is what everyone does! I was a substitute teacher in my children’s school, and I got to see them every day…but they could never be my focus.
I will never forget trying to work through a math lesson while teaching my daughter’s class. She was so frustrated, but I couldn’t help her. I knew I could help her at home, and my job was to work with the other students. I then figured out she was copying her neighbors’ work in order to just get it done. I sat her down that night to talk with her and realized that she was hurting by the end of each day. She was exhausted. She needed more. More time to work at her own pace, more time outside, more sleep, more mom, and more family. How on earth could we handle more?
I Guess I am Homeschooling, even if I am an Accidental Homeschooler
I decided that I would pull her out for a year. I wasn’t committing to more than that. My original plan was to take her out for a year and leave her sisters in school. This wasn’t just any school. This school required parent involvement. 4 hours per week, per child. It was small, and there was a waiting list!
Wading In With One
OK God. I can do this. One foot in, one foot out. Let’s compromise? I will homeschool this one, for now.
My youngest child just wasn’t getting it though. She never had. Reading was really tough for her, number sense just wasn’t there. She was sweet, sensitive, and an amazing friend to everyone. Everyone told me, “Don’t worry. Developmentally she’s on track!” But I knew. Something wasn’t clicking for her. Once she found out I was going to be home with her sister, it became a non-issue. She had always wanted to just stay with me. At the end of her first day of kindergarten, she said to me, “I don’t know how to read, naptime is too short, I don’t think I need to do that anymore.”
I Can Homeschool Two
Ok God. These 2. I can homeschool these two. They are both young enough. I can teach them at home. My oldest however, I can’t teach her. She is so smart! I could never challenge her enough!
My oldest came to me shortly before the school year was up. “Mom, I don’t know, but I think I want to be at home too.” Ok. Don’t panic. I can talk her out of this.
And here I am finishing my fourth year of homeschooling, and I am probably doing it wrong. I am definitely not doing what I envisioned. I don’t have more patience, I still fight with my middle daughter about her math lessons.
God Will Fill in the Gaps for the Accidental Homeschooler
We don’t have only great days, and I never feel like I am doing enough. So many nights I lay in bed. “God, I did my best but we both know it wasn’t enough. I need you to fill in the gaps.” I have faith He will.
What we do have? Laughter when we trip up. Together we learn, we play, we explore, we grow.
The truth is we are involved in each other’s lives. WE LIKE EACH OTHER! Love has always been a given, but now, most days, we want to spend time together.
We want to make our home a culture of learning. Do I ever see that school bus go by and think, “Hmmm…I would have so much time if….”?
Would I change the decision to follow the calling God put on me to homeschool my children?
Rebecca Lundgren, The Accidental Homeschooler, lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals. While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way. Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University. Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program. In addition to homeschooling, she is a well-loved teacher at True North Homeschool Academy where she teaches Jr High Classes. She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.
For more of this type of you-can-do-it encouragement read Managing My Home and Time, Using teamwork in Your Homeschool, or Homeschool While I Work? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!