Homeschooling is not your typical, eight hour, sit in your desk, “raise your hand until called upon”, kind of day. I was brought up in public education, so homeschooling has required me to rewire my brain. When I first began planning our homeschool, my mind went back to the classrooms of my own childhood. I started modeling after what I had always known. In order to learn, we needed desks, workbooks, curriculum, or at least a designated place to do homeschool. The truth is, we need none of that. We use some of that from time to time, but that is not what real education looks like.
The world is a classroom. The wonder of an earthworm deep beneath the cold spring soil. The leaves that drop like snowflakes in the fall. Recipes, housework, building, serving, laughing, jumping, tending, gardening- these are all highly educational opportunities. Some of these experiences are recreated in the modern classroom, but guess where they happen naturally? That’s right, at home!
This isn’t a new way of learning. In fact, it is the oldest form of education. The world is our classroom.
Homeschool is not public school at home. It is a mindset, an adventure, and a lifestyle. So here are 3 do’s and don’ts to apply to your homeschool day!
1. Do: Morning Time
If you ask Isaiah his favorite part of our day, he will happily tell you it is our morning time. He always complains it is over too soon, and boasts that he could sit and do morning time all day! This is a time of day that you can completely cater to serve you and your family best. Those odds and ends that you really want to work into your day like poetry, verse memorization, a family novel, character building, or bird identification flash cards- find their home here.
Morning time looks different for us month to month- sometimes week to week. We don’t have an exact time for when our school day begins, but it always begins the same way: with everyone gathered around to pray, read, and simply be together.
For a calmer start to your day, check out our blog: 5 simple make ahead breakfast ideas.
The best part of homeschool is that it allows us to be together as a family most of the time. There are moments of the day that require more one on one time, but morning time tends to offer a little something for everyone. Not to mention, it allows us to start the day with our focus on God.
For more ideas on crafting a more beautiful morning time, click here.
2. Do: Outdoor Time
This is my heart! If I had to define our homeschool style, I would simply say: we let nature teach us. Books and the great outdoors is all the curriculum a child could ever need! My best advice is to simply stock a backpack with flower, tree, and bird identification cards, a compass, binoculars, rope, a nature journal, and pencils or crayons- throw open the back door and say “Go.”
If it’s raining, throw on some boots and a slicker.
If it’s snowing, layer up.
There is no reason to waste a full day indoors!
I used to try to guide this time. Assigning silly little tasks like find three bugs or try to identify the clouds in the sky. I soon realized that I was taking so much wonder out of it. Again my mindset to look like public school was getting in the way of real learning. Sometimes the best way to teach is to just be quiet and be a student of wonder too.
In so many ways I feel that I am finally getting a well rounded education. Not that I was deprived of that growing up, but my kids are studying for something more than a test. They are taught gentleness from the wings of a butterfly, patience from the blackberry vines, and compassion from a robin’s broken wing.
But there is so much more to outdoor time than just learning. Steady streams of vitamin D reflected in sun kissed cheeks, hand eye coordination, and vision improvement (which I will explain more on later!)
3. Do: Create Habits
Being at home full time, keeping the home, nurturing babies, and homeschooling requires that our home run as smoothly as possible. (And let’s be honest some days are about as smooth as a popcorn ceiling.) This is where ‘habits’ come in. We have tried chore charts, stickers, rewards, and everything in between. Nothing worked well for us until I heard a podcast on habits for children. Essentially, habits are chores, but they are the exact same every single day. Day in and day out. They are not rewarded, it is simply a job that must be carried out in order for the house to function optimally.
Habits begin as soon as our babies are walking. Of course the early days are spent on small tasks like unloading silverware, putting away toys, and folding washcloths in half. But those small jobs grow with them and before long they can wash dishes, vacuum, and wipe up by themselves. My five year old is already changing diapers like a well seasoned mom!
In our home, habits begin immediately after breakfast. Clothes must be changed, teeth brushed, bedrooms picked up, animals fed, and beds made before our school day can begin. Some days this is executed to perfection without reminders, other days I find myself screaming “Brush Your Teeth!” until I’m hoarse to no avail.
I suppose that’s life, especially with four littles under seven. My hope is that in time these things will become second nature, “habits” if you will, and without prompting or repeated reminders they will simply do what is expected.
1. Don’t: Be Afraid to Admit Something Isn’t Working
I could write an entire piece on just this concept alone, and perhaps someday I will. This can apply to so many stages of life, but homeschool I struggle with in particular. We plan so much, investing money into curriculums, planning, organizing, preparing- and then it isn’t what we hoped for. Maybe the curriculum is too rigorous or too slow. Maybe math first thing in the morning worked last month, but this month it is causing the day to begin with frustration. Whatever the issue may be sometimes things simply don’t work for us.
It can be hard to let go of something, especially if you spent a lot of time or money on it. It’s like bringing home a new area rug and realizing it clashes with your couch. Sometimes we just keep trying to make things work because we are so convinced they would or because it worked for us in the past or with another kid. The reality is homeschool, curriculum, schedules, co-op, routines, etc. should serve us and our family, and if they don’t- it’s time to move on. It’s okay to admit something isn’t working- even if all the other homeschool moms swear by it.
You know your family best. You know your child best. Don’t be afraid to admit when something isn’t working for you.
2. Don’t: Rely on Electronics
If there is one thing I could go back in time and tell my 22 year old self, it would be this. I used to pride myself on not caring for technology. After Isaiah was born and I had nothing to do but breastfeed all day, I really changed that tune. I watched Friends for the first time at 22 years old, every episode, twice. I discovered the ritual of mindless scrolling and laid aside my books for blue light. And that obsession bled over to my son.
We did the whole Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sesame Street, and Paw Patrol thing. We watched the shows, had the character birthday parties, stuffed animals, and sang the songs together. Then one day I read a harmless article on screen addiction and realized at almost 3 years old, he had every symptom!
That was nearly four years ago, and I’m so happy to say we do not do daily screen time. It’s okay if you do, but keep tabs on it. Set time limits and abide by them. Your phone or TV is not a replacement for education, or a babysitter. This is not to be offensive. I have been there myself. This is fact based, research backed, and quite frankly obvious if we are being honest. Kids need to be present in their own lives.
So what’s the cure to too much screen time? You guessed it, NATURE! I’m telling you it is the key to homeschool! And what points to God more than His creation?
Because of our problem with the screen time, Isaiah developed myopia (nearsightedness). Strangely enough I had just watched an entire seminar on severe myopia in children and how time outdoors could cure it, before this appointment. The eye doctor and I agreed to give him a year. I was instructed not to let him look at books, screens or anything for too long, and to keep him outside as much as possible.
We went for a check up last month and (drumroll please) 20/20 vision! Don’t rely on technology.
3. Don’t: Compare
This is the hard one. I know I struggle with this. But if I could encourage you for one moment:
Mama, your baby is exactly how they are supposed to be. I’ve had a baby learn to walk at 13 months and a baby learn to walk at 9 months and they both walk perfectly. You wouldn’t know which walked when by looking at them now. And the same is true for your children in school. Some will pick it up quick and run without ever missing a step. They will breeze through multiplication, phonics, and handwriting as though they’ve known it all along.
Others need time. They don’t need pressure, better workbooks, or more practice. They need time. Often the brightest kids need the most. One day their hand will be developed enough and they will write. One day they will read a novel overnight when you thought they were struggling with “Hop on Pop”. They will get there. I promise, they will excel. They will succeed. Deep Breath, Mama. Don’t look at every other kid in the world or even at your other children- don’t compare.
Resources and Encouragement
Whether you are in the thick of homeschooling or just thinking about trying it. It is so rewarding. There is so much joy in being with your child all day. Don’t doubt yourself as their teacher. God chose you. You were chosen to teach them to walk, to speak, to have manners, and no one loves them like you- you are their best teacher! For more encouragement to begin homeschool or even to slow down and have a less stressful approach, check out the resources down below.
- To hear the radio interview with Raymond Moore that began the homeschool movement in the US, click here.
- For the homeschool podcast/resources/seminar dates of Carole Joy Seid, click here!
Books Every Homeschooling Mama should read:
- “Better Late Than Early” by Dr. Raymond Moore and Dorothy Moore
- The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore
- Teaching from Rest, Sarah Mackenzie
-As an Amazon Affiliate, I do get commissions for purchases made through the links in this post.