Have you ever felt like moving because your house doesn't fit your homeschooling needs? I have been there, even in a larger home, I struggled to make our house fit our homeschool needs. Over the years, I found ways that really helped to make it flow for our homeschool, regardless of the size of our home and how many people lived there. Often times, I just needed some inspiration that came from getting frustrated and then getting creative with the resources that we had available to us.
5 Ways to Make Your House Fit Your Homeschool Needs
Finding a Place for Your Curriculum
Over our 15 years of homeschooling, the place we stored our curriculum has changed based on our family size, our house size and our individual needs. Each way that we used worked really for us in the time that we used them. When they stopped being effect, we would find a new place or system that seemed to meet our needs.
Here are the ways that worked for us over the years:
- One shelf on the book shelf – In the early days, I just keep our books on one shelf of the book shelf and I was the only one that got these out and put them back.
- One crate per child, plus one crate for my teachers books – As I added two children, who had different books, we would pull our crates out when it was school time and everything went in the right bins. When we were done, we put them on our shelves until the next school day.
- Magazine Files for each subject – As we moved into more independent learning, I began to use magazine files to hold our books for each subject and one for their daily work. This is how I still do it today!
Organizing Crafting Things
We do a lot of binder books, and have several crafting items that we need to be able to find and use quickly. I absolutely love the cubical storage shelves for organizing our binder book supplies and other craft things. It is so important to use things like this in small homes or tiny spaces to maximize your floor space and organize the things you use most.
I require my children to take things out and put them back when they use them.
Organizing Book Shelves
Every homeschooling family has book shelves, and chances are several of them. Over the 15 years, I have accumulated a lot of different books and many of them are ones that I don't plan on getting rid of because they are such good things.
What has worked for our family is having our shelves organized by subjects. We have one for history, another for nature/science, another for literature, poetry and art/music studies. And another for our math, and other resources that are not included on the other shelves.
It really helps to keep our books where they belong when we aren't using them for our lessons or free time reading.
Functional School Space
This is where most families struggle to find what works for them. I know we have had our seasons of finding functional space to do our homeschooling that meets the needs of our family.
Over the years we have done it these ways:
- At the kitchen table or on the couch
- Older ones have home schooled in their rooms, while I worked at the table with our younger one
- All bedrooms, with a gate on the door for our toddler when working with my third child
- Currently, we transformed our formal dining room (that we only use when entertaining) into a functional school room that still looks like a dining room. s
Sell What You Don't Use
This is one thing that has helped us over the years, to keep our school things to fit our space that we have in our home. Once we know that we no longer need a curriculum or resource, I will sell to other families looking for these resources. This helps raise extra funds for our next year's curriculum, while keeping our home functional for what we really use and want to keep.
Most family has at least one child that struggles to concentrate on the task at hand, and those who have one, know it is difficult homeschooling a distracted child. I have had one who has found every opportunity to get distracted, whether it was daydreaming about free time, thinking about something that had recently happened, his imagination running wild or getting excited about what he was reading about and just wanting to go on and on about it. With a child that is easily distracted, it is important to do what you can to train them in skills necessary for concentration.
How to Homeschool a Distracted Child
In our 15 years of homeschooling, I have found that the earlier you train a child to give their full attention, the less likely it is for them to be easily distracted with their lessons. However, there are exceptions which require you to have even more tools to work with to disciple a child that is highly prone to distraction.
These are the things that I have implemented and have found great success in eliminating the distraction habits.
We all learn differently, and what may not be distracting to one person may be just the reason another can't concentrate.
I have a hard time cooking in a messy space, so I love having a clean kitchen. My work space is similar, because if it is messy, it hinders my creative abilities. So for me, I need clean places to do my work.
Noise is another distraction that hinders me from concentrating, and that is the same with one of my children. For him to be diligent in his work, I had to allow him to do his work in his room. This only happened when I was confident that he already showed the habit of being diligent in his assignments and of course, I checked up on him often to be sure he was staying on task. It was the best decision I could make for him and his school work increased greatly once I eliminated the noise distraction that was going on in the main area of our home.
My highly distracted child isn't affected by the house noise, since it is his wandering mind that gets him distracted, so I wouldn't be able to give him the privilege of working in seclusion because it would give his mind more opportunities to wonder.
The key to eliminating distraction has been training attentiveness early, and revisit it whenever it feels necessary. In our home, a timer has worked great. The child and I agree on a set time for how long an assignment would take if they were doing their best and we set the timer for that amount of time. Having the timer in front of the child, will allow them to hear the ticking and be a reminder to stay focused and give complete attentiveness to the lesson in front of them.
Allow for Brain Breaks
As a reward for ‘beating the timer', you can reward your child with a 5 minute brain break that allows them to do whatever they want to think about, get up and change their position or move around some. This mental break is so important for a child that really struggles with distractions, as it trains them in knowing they will earn a reward for being diligent.
For my distracted child, this could easily mean he wants to talk to me and tell me something in his mind. He loves to talk and needs those breaks through his school routine.
Some children just love being around other people. I have two of these kinds of children. It can be a challenge for some families to homeschool the social-craving child, especially if their homeschool only consist of themselves or one other sibling.
Homeschooling the Social-Craving Child
Wanting to be around other peers isn't a bad thing and many children really need this for their personality, especially if they had been in a school setting for several years and then you begin to homeschool. This can really be a difficult adjustment for some children.
There are several opportunities in the homeschooling community that you can participate in to help them fill the social-craving that they have and still homeschool the way you desire.
Sports are becoming more and more popular in the homeschool community. I have seen softball, volleyball, football, t-ball, soccer, swim teams and more.
Our children have participated in Chess Club and loved it! It doesn't take much to start your own club, just a handful of children, an adult that is knowledgable about Chess and of course, some games.
Our family has loved getting together with other homeschooling families to enjoy nature walks, nature centers and field trips centered around nature. You can literally just start it yourself by inviting a few friends.
Co-ops are becoming very popular in the homeschool communities. Several in our area actually offer their own graduation ceremony. You can start one yourself with some easy things to do with other families or join an establish one to give your children more homeschooling experience.
I love taking my children on field trips, but often times going with another family or two helps me ‘kill two birds with one stone' and of course, the children love having their friends on a homeschool related field trip.
In the end, there are many opportunities to get your children involved and still homeschooling. The best way to get familiar with the opportunities in your area is to join a support group or become a member of your state's organization that will keep you informed of what is available year round.
Do you ever have times in your homeschooling journey where life gets so crazy that you can't seem to get the lessons done or even get the books out. I have had a few seasons like this and when I look back I realized that although the books weren't out, we were homeschooling and life was the teacher.
Homeschooling: When Life Is the Teacher
We all have seasons where sickness hits our home, a new baby is born, an extended family member is dealing with illness or even a death of a loved one takes us from the normal routine of life. How can you still homeschool through these seasons?
You allow life to be the teacher.
Life is full of lessons that we all need to learn and would benefit our children to learn them in real life and out of books. If you know how much I love books, you will understand that I don't make that statement light-heartedly, and I'm not saying that life should be the only teacher in a child's life. I'm no saying that at all!
Often times it is through these seasons in our homeschooling that our children can learn some of the most overlooked characteristics in today's culture and they can truly begin to nurture them in their own lives, forming them into loving, caring people.
When sickness hits our home…
Our children learn to pick up the slack that occurs when I'm needing to tend to the sick ones, or even take a day in bed for myself to regain health. Tending to the meal, or younger siblings are the first things that will be expected from my older children. Our younger children learn how to respect others by being quiet when sick ones need more rest to recover.
We take advantage of learning resources on DVDs, audios and such to continue our learning while resting and allow for our home to stay quieter.
What I love most about the lessons taught when sickness hits our home is seeing the genuine love for each other through serving the needs of those that are sick and taking care of what they normally do.
When a new baby joins the family…
During our homeschooling journey, we welcomed two babies in our family and both times, we had some issues that came with them. I needed to have an emergency gall-bladder surgery when our third child was only three weeks old. My head was spinning with concerns of how my husband was going to deal with taking care of our newborn and our older two children, then 8 and 6, while I spent two days in the hospital plus weeks of recovery.
Only breastfeeding our son, and the quickness for the surgery (my gall-bladder was infected badly and full of stones), I had no time to prepare him for taking a bottle or pumping my milk for him. In addition, the medication that I was taken was not safe for breastfeed babies.
I remember my husband calling me from home, overwhelmed at the baby crying no stop and not sure what to do next. I suggested giving him more formula, since you can never tell how much a nursing baby gets in a feeding. We hung up and I bald like a baby because I couldn't be there for him.
Shortly after, my husband called me back and told me that had to be it because he finished another bottle and was already asleep. My husband didn't sleep well that night and by morning, our 8 year old daughter happily stepped into the mother role and took care of the baby, almost as good as I would have.
When our last son was born, he had a health issue that caused him to be extremely gassy and unable to get into a full sleep due to his trachea collapsing and not being able to breath without being moved. Needless to say, I didn't sleep for 4 months. However, when our daughter, who was then 16, would wake up, I would literally hand the baby over and go for a 2 hour nap before needing to nurse again.
This baby refused to take a bottle and that required me to be on call non-stop. Exhaustion is putting it lightly.
Homeschooling and homemaking were not on my list of importance during these survival months. My children learned independent learning in homeschool more than I would have expected, they took charge of the home and meals, while giving me the support I needed.
These lessons could never come from a book.
When an extended family member is sick…
On a few occasions, I have had to pack up my children and drive 400 miles to help my parents when they were really sick and help nurse them back to health. The freedom of homeschooling afforded me this opportunity to help my parents when others may not have been able to do so.
During these times, my children would work on some school work, but what lessons life provides to taking care of the needs of others is priceless and worth teaching.
Scriptures can be copied onto get well cards. Stories read aloud for the enjoyment of the sick loved one. Narrations can be listened to, as well.
Serving others with joy is a lesson that I know my children have learned well and only because we allow life to be the teacher.
When a loved one dies…
Our family has been spared the hurt of losing a really close loved one, but when it does happen, I can see that life will need to be different for the time to grief and allow healing to take place.
I could see our home using music, scripture and poetry to help the grieving process.
Taking time to go through photos and other memories to be able to celebrate the life of our loved one that waits on the other side of eternity. Lessons of salvation, right choices and repentance would most likely be common in our days for our younger ones to grasp the sadness that our family would feel.
Whatever the season you find yourself in, take joy in knowing that homeschooling when life is the teacher has the opportunity to teach your children lasting lessons that could forever impact and mold their character in whys that curriculum could never being to teach.
Most homeschool moms are having to learn how to balance so many things, including homeschooling multiple ages. It can seem daunting but it doesn't have to be. Knowing a few key elements to homeschooling multiple ages can help you to find joy in your homeschooling journey and bring peace into your routine.
5 Key Elements to Homeschool Multiple Ages
These key elements really work and will give your homeschooling the atmosphere you really desire.
- Set Up a Routine That Naturally Flows for Your Family – Once I realized that a schedule with set times were only stress increasing things, I switched my focus to finding a routine that could work for my family and have adjustments based on the seasonal changes that occurs in our home. Once my children, even my youngest children, learned what our homeschooling routine looked like, our days became easier and more productive. I truly believe that a natural flowing routine is one of the best things a homeschooling mom can do for herself and it will pay off so quickly.
- Recognize Training Opportunities for What They Are – Each homeschool family has issues that arise in our children that can quickly cause our homeschooling days to become unglued and stressful. We need to recognize these times as training opportunities and understand that when this happens, it means we haven't been consistent in setting up our routine, implementing consequences and even overlooking praises where they could have been given. I like to identify the key things in our home that gets me stressed out, whether it is disobedience or unmotivated children, I can recognize that these are trainable opportunities that will help me reach my goal of homeschooling multiple ages and to do it well. I start working on these opportunities a few weeks prior to starting our new homeschooling to help us get on the right path before our book studies begin.
- Teach Several Subjects as a Family – If you aren't taking advantage of teaching several subjects as a family, you won't believe the freedom that comes with this one key element to teaching multiple ages in your home. We have done this successfully with history, science, art, music, memory work and even math for the first few years, when we concentrated on hands-on learning and oral math. The key to doing this successfully is to expect different things based on the ages and skills of your children. Young children will only be listening, where older children could be given assignments that could last 15-20 minutes or even longer for high school children. I absolutely love bringing in resources to help in implementing this.
- Encourage Independent Learning – I couldn't teach multiple ages without implementing independent learning early on. I find that this not only fosters a love of learning, but also opens up my day to work with those who need more teaching to learn the basic skills necessary to be an independent learner, including accountability.
- Create Learning Centers for Your Family – I love having learning opportunities right at my children's level or where I can get them for them. Planning ahead for these activities are really important but worth the time! These learning centers are key elements to getting even the youngest child in your home to be doing something when you have to give your attention to another child.
We all get tired physically, emotionally and spiritually when we give daily to our family and do it all day long. Recharging ourselves is crucial to keeping our joy and happiness in what we do for our family. As important as it is, we often lose motivation or inspiration for just how to accomplish this for ourselves.
5 Recharging Tips for the Homeschooling Mom
We all recharge differently, so it is important to recognize what makes you feel energized the most and then be sure to add them to your life as often as possible to keep yourself from getting to the point of struggling with your joy and happiness. I know because I have had issues with it numerous times.
Recharging Tip One: Go to Bed Early
Sleep is so important for any person, especially a homeschooling mom that is with her children all day, every day. Sleep repairs the body and energizes your body for the next day.
I have also found that going to bed early, also allows me to have quiet time with my husband, which is one of my personal ways of recharging.
Recharging Tip Two: Rise Before Your Family
The quiet house is so energizing to me. My brain is the freshest in the morning and when I rise before my family, I can often times get many things off my list before anyone needs my attention. Just starting the day with my family knowing I have already removed a few things from my to-do list is such a productive feeling that it gives me a charge for the day that is almost addicting.
Recharging Tip Three: Pray and Sing
When I feel myself getting overwhelmed by the demands of the day, I find it easiest for me to just pray. It doesn't have to be long or even on your own. My children have been witness to me stopping in the middle of a conversation that was taxing to my patience and call out, ‘Help me, Lord!'. It is always a good sign to them that they are pushing me to a place where God will need to intervene.
Music is also my go to when life is getting the best of me. I turn on the music of my choice and just sing along. It amazes me how quickly I feel recharged and ready for the next thing.
Recharging Tip Four: Exercise
I know! Like keeping the house going, cooking, tending to children and keeping up with them should be all the exercise we really need, but it isn't. There is something about exercising for 15 – 30 minutes for the purpose of getting your heart rate elevated that brings something amazing to your body, mind and soul.
I started a 100 days of fitness challenge in mid-March and it has made such a difference in my overall health that I have committed to a #changedin365. You can follow my progress on Instagram or even join me! All I'm doing is committing to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily for a full year. I love how my family has been joining me and encouraging me to join them in their favorite activities and I'm loving it!
Recharging Tip Five: Indulge In What Makes Your Feel Good
Yes! I said it and mean it wholeheartedly.
Women, we deserve to enjoy life and enjoy the good things that God has provided for us. Indulging in a long talk with a friend, sleeping in on a weekend, eating a chocolate bar, going on a date with your husband, watching a TV series or reading a book.
We were created to have life and have it more abundantly.
If you are struggling in getting recharged, make a commitment to start enjoying life and indulging in what makes you laugh, live and love. That is what we were created to do with our lives. Not to go overboard in our indulgences, because then we will lose the joy they bring, but to savor, enjoy and embrace the good things around us, as often as we can fit them in our lives.