In my 15 years of homeschooling, I look back and see that two of my homeschool years were not as productive as they should have been. I completely felt that by not doing a few things, I had contributed to me feeling like I had wasted these homeschool years.
One of those years, our fourth son was born with Tracheomalacia in the middle of December, the rest of our year was wasted. I was only getting 2 hours of rest a day, mostly when my teenage daughter would care for the baby first thing in the morning. It took our son four months to start sleeping better, and still then it wasn't what our other children did at that age.
Although my children were learning life-skills during the time, I knew that if I had the right things in place, I would have been able to give them more opportunities to learn without me.
This can really leave a mom stressed, overwhelmed and emotional. Feeling behind isn't something that we desire, but sometimes it happens. Often times, I have found that these feelings from the year before can also effect the next year that we have high hopes to make better.
Understanding what makes our homeschool year feel wasted is key to overcoming this and not repeating the cycle that it can bring.
7 Ways a Mom Can Waste a Homeschool Year
- Not Planning for Lessons – Without a plan that includes a start and finish, can leave you feeling too relaxed with your child's education. This isn't far to the child, especially when it isn't just a season but a pattern. I use a yearly syllabus to keep me on track for planning for my children. This isn't labeled by the day or week, but a yearly outlook of what we need to accomplish. Many times this could be enough, however because my goal is to have independent learners, I do break it down further into assignments. If you aren't much of a planner, try a yearly syllabus and cross off things when they are finished. Knowing your year is not finished until the syllabus is done will help keep you on target. Part of our planning includes field trips and nature walks, which helps things not just be learning from home and offers that needed ‘break' from the syllabus.
- Not Planning for Interruptions – We all have interruptions, rather it is a newborn with health issues we didn't plan for, six weeks of sickness that leaves mom feeling less than capable of teaching or a health emergency of a loved one. If you are anything like me, you love to have a solid break from school, so planning for this unexpected interruptions are very important to the success of your year. I'm always looking for good resources that I can invest in that will allow me to use in place of our planning, and still be learning something. Often times these are DVDs or educational programs that we record for just one of those times. Also having a pre-approved list for free reading or assignments that would fit that year would be great for these times.
- Not Organizing the Home – I have found that it is better to take time to ensure that there is a place for everything in our home, then to take time during our ‘lesson time' to hunt for a needed item. When I haven't been as organized, the distraction of hunting for something makes it very easy for me to get distracted with a child, the phone or house chores. Of course, it would be the same way with my children, so I have to do what is necessary to ensure that our home has the atmosphere of education and that includes having an organized home, which saves us a lot of time and allows for full attention for what we are working on.
- Not Delegating Chores – My heart breaks when I hear a mom who gives so much to her household and feeling so wore out to the point that the homeschool is neglected because of the chores. I have always delegated chores to my children from the time they were walking, starting with them learning how to pick up their own toys. Yes, it takes time to teach them how to do these things but the reward to concentrated focus on teaching life skills is golden. Having dedicated time during the day for chores has been a key to our household. I can't recommend this enough! Although dinner preparation is my chore, I'm so pleased when my children come into the kitchen and offer help to me. This all has come because of the work ethic that chores has given them from a young age.
- Not Preparing for Non-Schooling Children – My biggest obstacle I hear when homeschoolers share with me is the interruptions of younger children during school time. The saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link” comes to my mind when I hear these situations. If you aren't putting a good focus on ways and tools to keep your non-schooling children preoccupied during lessons (assuming you can't involve them), your year will certainly be wasted. These little ones are precious and just love being involved in what is going on in the house. Planning for what will keep them safe and busy during 15-20 minute lessons should be a big priority, as you are preparing for your year.
- Not Setting Boundaries – This is a tough one for most moms, including me. Having set boundaries for mom and children are crucial for a successful year. Some necessary boundaries for me are no phone calls in the morning (unless it is hubby needing something), early rising if I need computer time before dependent work, and only add learning outing to our homeschool schedule unless it is in the afternoon. Our children have boundaries for themselves and things that pull them away from the task at hand. I would encourage you to set rewards to celebrate and consequences if boundaries are broken. This helps solidify them and keeps everyone motivated. We have a lighter day on Friday if our boundaries are keep and thus our work is being accomplished. Often times, this is with friends or other things that are important to our family.
- Not Evaluating – The years that I didn't stop and evaluate progress found me looking at our year as wasted. I now do this weekly for things in high school and monthly for younger grades. Evaluating is a great way to see how you are implementing the other factors to having a successful year, as well as giving you the ability to adjust and improve where you have gotten off track.
There are times, even with these 7 things done right that your family goes through some of the hardest things you may ever go through and your year may feel wasted. Having these tips of how not to repeat and continue in wasting the year is what makes it useful to all homeschooling moms.
I love that it is a doable list that can work at any time of the year and allow a renewing that moms needs to overcome what is behind us and look forward with joyful anticipation for what good things lie ahead!