Take the Home Out of Homeschooling

Take the home out of homeschoolingI once joked that our homeschool group took the “home out of homeschooling.”
That year we offered so many activities that families could be more outside the home than in, if they did everything! For a new homeschooler, it could be overwhelming.

It’s awesome to have lots of choices but it’s important not to let them overtake your life. Each family and each person within a family will have a different capacity for being on the go. I know families with four children who are in a combination of homeschool, public school, and private school situations who also take music lessons, participate in sports, enjoy co-op classes, and are active church members. It makes me tired just thinking about it! Others families enjoy being at home and venture out for the occasional field trip or weekly piano lesson. Neither is wrong as long as your schedule is a good fit for your family.

2000 09 NHE Firestation Field Trip (2)Many homeschool groups are gearing up, making plans, and having their first meetings in the next month. You may be faced with some decisions about what to add to your schedule. No one wants to “miss out” and how do you know which activities to choose?

If you have never made a list of priorities for your children and for your homeschool, do it today. List the personal and academic goals you have for your children. Don’t have time? Take one minute right now to list your top 5 and write them down or type them in an email and send it to yourself. Note that some of your goals may be different for each child.

Got your list? Now, make a list of all the things you’d like to do this year. This is important. I think we often don’t realize how much we do. Be sure to add some fun things!

Next, take some time to think about your “to-do” list in light of your goals. It’s OK for your family to go on a field trip that is just for fun or take those accordion lessons that you have always dreamed of! However, you may be able to prioritize the activities on your list. Others that you haven’t made a priority, such as reading a book together a few times a week, may move up.

Include your spouse in your process; he or she may see something you don’t. It’s also good to include your children in this decision making process. It helps them take ownership of their schedule and it’s a good life skill to begin learning. Younger children may be given a choice, “Would you like to play soccer or take gymnastics classes?” Older children may be able to give more input.

Personal Story Alert!! My children are more likely to say “I don’t know” than any other sentence in the English language. I found it difficult to get their opinion on such matters. Offering choices – “this or that” – was somewhat helpful, but found the key was time. It takes time for them to formulate an opinion. That’s how God made them. –sigh– If you hear “I don’t know,” don’t give up. It’s important your kids know you care what they think. So, be patient.

In the end, I think it’s easier to add to your schedule later on than to take away when you find yourself overwhelmed. Although, it’s OK to withdraw from an activity if you need to, there may have been people depending on you to be there and you may disappoint your children. So, especially if you are a new homeschooler, start your year slowly. Add activities, if you find you have time. (Note: Make sure you know deadlines for registering for activities such as soccer teams, co-op classes, and clubs.) Finally, enjoy being at home. Homeschoolers are blessed with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to explore and learn together. Enjoy the journey!

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