I’m pleased to have Dani Pettrey, author, mother of two and grandmother of one as a guest poster. After you read Dani’s homeschooling wisdom and tips here, please visit her website, follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to check out her inspirational romantic suspense novels, as well.
Homeschooling Advice from a Veteran Homeschooling Mom
Homeschooling is a big commitment, especially for the long term. I had the pleasure of homeschooling both my daughters all the way through high school, and today I’m here to share my top tips for persevering for the long haul.
Enjoy the time with your kids
I know it goes without saying, but kids are only kids once. Sometimes we get so focused on the day-to-day and the homeschool schedule that we forget to just sit back for a few minutes and soak it all in.
I still can’t believe both my girls are grown and now I have a two-year-old grandson running around—a grandson my daughter plans to homeschool—and I tell her this very thing. Enjoy the little moments. Cuddle up on that couch with your little one and read book after book if that’s what they are enjoying—don’t rush them to get back to science. There will be plenty of time for that.
If your high-schooler is really into his or her science unit, research experiments, head for the store and get materials, and then make a cool project to go along with the topic. Teenagers love things that explode, bubble over, and shoot off the deck. (Just FYI, so be prepared!) Be flexible with the curriculum, with your time, and most especially with your kids. Foster an environment of love, laughter and learning.
Make Time For Yourself
While being home all day with your kids is awesome, you all will also need a break from one another. Not necessarily a long break but, a break. For example, when my kids were little we called it ‘quiet time’. We’d all take an hour break and do whatever we felt like.
My oldest, inevitably, would continue to work on school work or read a textbook (she’s now halfway through grad school and on her way to her PhD—saw that coming), my youngest would read and/or watch a movie to unwind, and I would write. As my kids grew they obviously no longer needed ‘quiet time,’ but we still set aside the time simply as a period for whatever we wanted or needed it to be.
Everyone’s needs are different, but some ideas for this period include downtime—reading a book or taking a cat nap—or on the reverse side, active time—cleaning up the living room (only if you enjoy cleaning—this is your time) or exercising. Trust me, having that time set aside will make the rest of your day much more productive and all of you far more focused.
Foster a Community of Support
Homeschooling can, at times, feel lonely or isolating. There are so many support systems and resources available. Take time to research them and seek out opportunities for your kids to interact with other kids, and just as important, opportunities for you. You need time to interact with other homeschooling moms. I met some of my dearest friends on the soccer sideline.
There are co-ops, sports lessons, sports teams, art and music programs, robotics clubs…the list is endless. Find what most interests your kids and go for it.
One note: if you have multiple kids, here’s a tip so you aren’t running to four different activities at a time—limit your kids to one activity at a time. Fortunately, both of my girls typically chose the same activity, but not always. However, if you have a large family, you may need to have your family pick two activities that the majority are interested in and allow them to choose between them or, better yet, take turns. One child plays baseball in the spring, while another child ice skates in the winter. You don’t want to always be running and spread yourself too thin.
Toss Out the Rule Book
My number one suggestion for homeschooling for the long haul is to throw out the metaphorical rule book. Yes, work absolutely has to get done. You are teaching your kids, you are training them to be lifelong, independent learners who can think for themselves, can problem solve, know how to write well, and are consistent and strong students throughout college and on into the workplace. However, you are not running a public or private school in your home.
Homeschooling comes in all varieties. Some homeschoolers function best with strict schedules and by-the-book curriculums, some function best by unschooling, and everything in between. It’s all okay. God made us all unique so each homeschooling family is going to look and function differently. There is no need for comparison as all of our kids learn differently and there is no actual homeschool rule book. If you find one, throw it out immediately. Instead, find what works best for your family and enjoy the precious years together.
I hope you find these tips helpful and I especially hope that your homeschooling journey is as fun and adventurous as mine. Be sure to treasure the memories. Time flies by.
Dani Pettrey is a wife, mom, grandma, and the author of Cold Shot, the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series, and the bestselling Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series,.
She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves—the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson.