Last May my youngest son graduated from our home school, meaning that after 31 years of homeschooling our eight kids, I was officially done. Wow, does that make me feel old! 🙂
I have had moms ask me at times how I made it through 31 years of homeschooling, and what helped me. So I was thinking about it the last few days, and came up with a list of things that I heard or learned over the years that made me not only stick with it, but also made it all go much smoother.
Our motto verse for raising our kids has been II Peter 1:5 “...add to your faith, virtue (or character), and to character, knowledge….”
God says our first priority should be our kid’s faith – teaching them to love God, and to love His Word. Next should be their character, and then LAST on the list is the academics. Doing things God’s way always works best, and when we kept these priorities in order, God blessed the academic time. When I had a bad pregnancy, and remained faithful to Bible reading & memory with the kids, and a character lesson daily, often I was then unable to do the academics. But God blessed the little I could do because of my obedience, and the kids tested very well at the end of the year.
2. “Everything our kids learn from kindergarten through grade 12, is only FOUR years of material.”
Hearing that quote by Richard Fugate took SO MUCH stress off of me! Isn’t that a helpful thing to keep in mind when we have a child struggling to learn, “keep up”, or “catch up”?!
3. I realized that not all my kids learned the same way, or at the same speed.
It was such a surprise to me when what worked for my first child didn’t work at all with the 2nd one, who learned in a totally different way. No one had ever told me that kids have different learning styles, and I certainly just thought they would all learn at the same speed. As a result, I was frustrated, until I realized they all had their own learning styles, and learned different subjects at a slower or faster pace than the sibling(s) before them might have.
4. I taught my kids to be independent learners at a young age, and how to find answers.
This took so much pressure off of me, and gave me the time to work with the younger ones that weren’t able to read and work on their own yet. By the way, kids without character won’t be independent learners. They need character to work on their own, and be diligent.
5. The best planned days often don’t go as planned at all.
Once I realized how often things happen to “mess up” the plans, it helped me to be prepared to just go with the flow, and be flexible. Kids get sick – and usually it’s on the day that you planned to get lots of school work done, then clean the house, and run errands. Take a deep breath, and adjust your plans.
6. Sometimes you need to put a subject, or a topic from that subject, aside and come back to it later.
Sometimes it just doesn’t click with your child, and they aren’t ready for it. No one says that you HAVE to teach them things at a certain age or time, or in a certain order. Scope and sequence are an invention of the school system. We just have to make sure our kids learn what they need before they graduate. We can set our own scope and sequence. (remind yourself of point #2)
7. When I’m in too big of a hurry to spend time with God, things start coming apart.
I realized early on that teaching and training children requires much wisdom and strength from God. Without that time spent with Him, I would struggle with my own attitudes and spirit, which then rubbed off on the kids. If you’re too busy to spend time with God and in His Word, you are too busy!
8. A loose schedule but a regular routine makes a huge difference.
For example, when we get up we have breakfast, then everyone does their Bible reading, then we have a character lesson, then it’s time for academics. That way everyone knows what the routine is. If you are up late as a family and want to sleep in a bit later, it doesn’t hurt anything. You get up and follow the routine. A routine with a loose schedule works better with the academics, because it’s hard to really have a set amount of time for each subject daily. Some days Math will take 45 minutes because it’s a new topic, with lots of practice. Other days it will be review, and only take 30. There are also days where the child may not get it, and it will take even longer. Knowing they aren’t confined to a certain time frame relieves stress on them and you.
9. There will be days when you feel overwhelmed, and want to quit.
There will be days when you cry. On those days, remember that God won’t ask you to do something you’re not able to do. Go to Him, and seek His wisdom. He wants you to depend on Him, and there is nothing that makes you depend on Him more than realizing that you can not do it on your own.
10. Don’t compare!
I don’t have to do what the other homeschool families I know are doing with their kids. I need to do what God has called my husband and I to do with our kids. For each of us, it may look different. Don’t try to do what every one else is doing. It will make you crazy! Yep – speaking from personal experience here!