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.
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!
Homeschool Files, Papers, and Records
Homeschool Files, Papers, and Records. I know, I know! You’re starting to think about how much coffee you’re going to have to drink in order to even START planning your homeschool year….I get that! Between registrations, letter of intent, standing in line, praying for curriculum sales, and wondering if you’re making the right decision, the LAST thing you want to think about it is keeping records.
As daunting of a task as this is, especially if you have multiple kids, it’s a necessity. “But, Tammie, how do I keep things documented without becoming a hoarder?” WHEW! I understand that, too. Take it from someone whose Mom kept every Christmas ornament from ALL THREE kids…yeah
So how do you control homeschool files?
First, get a documentation binder. This was a lifesaver for me when I started and still is now.
In my binder, I have the following sections:
- State laws and evaluation protocols from HSLDA and my state’s website
- Cover school confirmation of enrollment and teacher verification
- Curriculum/resource list for all of our children along with receipts of purchase
- Attendance reports—number of days, number of hours, etc.
- Medical reports such as shot records, physicals, eye exams, etc
- Activity pics from field trips and co-op moments
- Work samples—don’t save EVERYTHING, just show progress
- Community service, including letters of commendation, letters of recommendation, awards, etc.
Next, get a Planner!
There are a MYRIAD of planners out there for you to use, but putting things in writing is important, especially if you have to call in a substitute family member to help you out for the day. Believe it or not, as a working homeschool mom myself, I made a Substitute Teacher Binder for my own HUSBAND!
When it comes to choosing a planner, always ask yourself if the design answers these seven questions:
- How much?
Why these seven questions?
It’s because these are the questions you will wake up and go to sleep answering on a daily basis. The planner that you use needs to help you get that out of your head and onto paper! If you are in the market for a planner that has a layout like this, check out my planners!
Also, consider getting planners for your children as well and help them to help you stay on track. Giving THEM a checklist of things to do gives you one less thing to think about. Only answer the questions asked. When it comes to record-keeping, we are prone to include ALL THE THINGS when we document what we do in your homeschool—STOP IT! Those same seven questions listed above are the same seven questions your documentation binder and planner should answer, whether it’s for your eyes only, an evaluator, or a friend or family member who’s coming to help.
Homeschool Files, Papers, and Records: Record-keeping doesn’t have to be as daunting of a task as others make it out to be! Stick to what is most needed and keep it moving! You have more important things to focus on, right?
(Are you overwhelmed with homeschooling madness? Maybe it’s time to check out True North Homeschool Academy’s Academic Advising!)
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!