10 Ways To Keep It Together While Homeschooling

Someone recently asked me how I find balance homeschooling while working at home.  The truth is working at home and homeschooling (or virtual public school, which ever team you're on) just works best for us right now. Honestly, between working at home and teaching our daughter, educating her is definitely the harder job of the two.  The hardest part is finding ways to do the work without exhausting ourselves or becoming frustrated with each other.  

Here are a few things I keep in mind when juggling the life we've made: 

1) Talk about how it's going, often.  What do we think about how it's going?  What can we do to make it better? What changes need to be made? What's working? We talk when things get stressful. And that happens a lot. 

2) Set a schedule. Well,...... it's more of a check list.  A schedule requires a time to be set. We are known to move slower than a snails pace, especially in the morning.  Most of the time, the time is set... but if not, see #3

3) Stay flexible. After a few rough days in a row, it's hard to focus and there's a lack of enthusiasm all around. No one is happy; nothing is getting done as expected.  Once in a while we take it easy.  Most of the time, we're ahead of schedule and a little time off won't hurt.  However, some times an early or light day means a later evening or a longer and harder day ahead.   But that flexibility keeps us sane. 

 4) Take breaks. Even if it makes the day a lot longer, take many breaks. After she finishes each subject, she gets a break. If breaks run too long, then our day gets later. If she stays on schedule, we get to go do something if she's finished for the day early.  We both need breaks. 

5) Apologize.  When we have finally hit a wall and let the emotions fly, a heart felt apology goes a long way.   It's fine to be frustrated, not everyone understands how we feel, sometimes not even ourselves. Often, it results in hurt feelings or harsh words.  Most of the time we don't know how upset we are about something until we've grown too exasperated to express it.   

6) Change it.  If it's not working, change it! If something isn't working, there's no reason to keep walking into the same dead end. If she's having trouble with something, we change how we're approaching it.  If that doesn't work we bring in another perspective.  Sometimes where I can't find the words to help, my husband can.  Or a documentary can. Or grandma can. Or google can. 

7) Educate always. If there's a way to make it educational, do it.  Even if we didn't homeschool, I would want to feed her thirst for knowledge while she still shows interest. If I don't know the answer, I look it up! The skill of research is one that got me through college.  

8) Make it a game. We spent a few months learning math using her favorite toy of the month. It's all she talked about, thought about, and cared about for far too long.  It drove me insane, and then I made her a math game using the pieces. She still asks to play it.  My husband creates elaborate scavenger hunts focusing on teaching her something new.  At first it was reading using sight words, then word problems, and more extensive vocabulary. They're two of her favorite activities, it's like she doesn't even know its school.  

9) Give them a choice. She may not be able to decide what she's doing for the day, but she can choose the order. "You don't want to do Science right now? Fine, we'll do Social Studies instead but then we do Science." Sure, she won't have a choice when/if she is ever in public school, but she does today. And when she gets older, knowing what she wants to tackle first will help her become efficient and more confident in her decisions. 

10) Give yourself a high five. Seriously. Sometimes we just need someone to say "you're doing great." 

Do you have anything you'd add to this list?  I'd love to hear from you! Since I'll probably be looking for other lists just like this one very soon. 

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