Disclaimer: I am NOT a true homeschooling mom.
I teach my children plus 4 other children at our church. My oldest is going to college this year, so I do not teach her anymore. I teach them Monday – Thursday from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m..
I do teach my own children, but I do have some help: the other parents have to help once a week. I also do not have to store all my stuff at home, and we have the benefit of going to “school” (even though we can walk there.) Being in a school setting makes it easier for my children and for me to stay focused.
However, I also have 8 children to teach (maybe 9) that span 7 different grade levels. I know there are homeschool families that have that many children or more, but that isn’t typical anymore. I do have an elementary education degree with six years experience teaching in a regular Christian school setting before teaching at our small church school, but I am not qualified to teach high school math or science.
So how do you prepare to homeschool your children?
- Have the mindset that it will be a job and that it will take a lot of your time.
Yes, you may love homeschooling. You may not like it being called “work.”
However, it takes a lot of time to give your children a quality education. When I was a full-time teacher, I would stay until 5 or 5:30 p.m. every day to get ready for the next day. I would have work on the weekends to do. Or course, I taught 22-30 children, but it was only one grade level. Teaching multiple grade levels will take a lot of time and preparation — even if you use online classes. You will still have to provide oversight and help with concepts your child struggles with. Be mentally prepared for this fact.
One homeschool mother told me that she was doing 3 big jobs: cleaning the house, cooking meals, and educating her children. She said she could only do 2 well, so she had to pick which 2 jobs she did daily. Educating her children was one she usually had to do at least 4 days a week. So on those four days she would pick: did she want a home-cooked quality meal and a messy house or was she going to go for something easy that night like chicken nuggets and have a clean house?
There’s no shame in making an easy dinner or in having a messy house some days. Let go of the guilt — there’s very few perfect moms (and they aren’t perfect either).
- Make a schedule and have your family help.
Your schedule can be “loose.” It doesn’t need to be hourly — unless that’s how you thrive. My kids know when it’s their turn to do dishes. My husband vacuums. There are Saturday chores for all of the kids. I call at dinner time for the kids to come help butter the garlic bread, to set the table, and they all are expected to clear off the table. My kids make their own breakfast and lunch. They fold their own laundry, and they clean the hallway bathroom.
Maybe you like to sit together for lunch (which we also did when the kids were younger) or you want a daily detailed schedule. Great! Find out what works for you, but have a conversation on how you are all in this together and how everyone needs to help. Or you will burn out.
- For the schooling part, know where you need to be in each subject at the end of each quarter so that you can stay on track.
If there are 32 weeks in curriculum, then you should be 8 weeks done by the end of the 1st quarter. If there are 140 lessons, then divide 140 by 4 = 35 lessons each quarter. For Saxon math, I have to add up the tests + lessons + investigations to see where I should be. Saxon likes to put a test + a lesson on the same day. Many times I can split those into 2 days of math and still finish on time. There’s nothing worse than having to work long hours in June when everyone is ready for school to be over to get done. Knowing where you should be at the end of each quarter will help you stay on track.
- Be organized.
Figure out what you are using, order your materials, then organize it. Take a day to show your children how you want them to do their work and the process they need to follow for each subject. If they understand their curriculum, they will be able to work on their own for certain subjects while you help another child. You also won’t waste time daily trying to figure out what you are doing.
I like to get all my printables ready — if possible — before school starts. I also like to take time on the weekend getting the next week ready. I make schedules for my kids so they know what they have to do each day. It takes time, but kids can then work independently when I am busy with other children, and I can go back and see what they should have done each day.
The children also know where to put their work that needs to be checked daily and then where to pick it up from after I have checked it. They have a writing folder for their rough drafts. There is so much that you can do to stream line your process — but what you do may be different from what I do. Sometimes it’s trial and error. You try one way of doing something and it’s a fail, but then another way works for you. Each year you will tweak something — that’s okay. It’s what teachers do in the school system as well.
- Stay focused when it is school time.
A friend told me that she turns off her phone when it is school time. If you can designate a school room or a school space, that really helps. One mom would take her kids outside and they would walk around the house and into the back room where they did school. Then when school was over, they would walk back around the house and in through the front door. And now they were home. This helped put them all into “school mode.”
Wake up by a certain time and get started every day at about the same time. Have a break time and a lunch time. As much as possible, stick to those times so that you develop a routine. Younger children especially thrive on routine. It makes them feel safe. It also helps everyone to feel like school is progressing well.
Now, if you have a baby or special needs child, give yourself grace. Again, everybody’s home situation will be different. This is the beauty of homeschooling.
- Have spontaneous rewards (spontaneous to the children/planned by you) for hard work.
School will be boring and will drag if it is all drill and drudgery. Make school fun by having play times, field trips, rewards, and special learning occasions such as cool science experiments, crafts, or baking times. Watch something that supplements what you are learning. We want kids to love learning (even though some things they won’t love to do and they just have to learn that school is their work.)
- If you have multiple children, do the busy work with the first kid by making reproducible printables and keeping them for future children.
I have started typing up all the math meetings for Saxon math for 1st -3rd grades so that I can reuse them year after year. I also type up all the phonics board work for ABeka phonics for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade phonics. Since I know I will use this with multiple children, I laminate them and have them in binders. The children use Wet Erase markers on the laminated sheets. If I only had 1-2 children, I may just use paper copies.
Not only does this save time from year to year, it saves time in my day-to-day teaching. I don’t have to write the board work every day. It is already done and I can quickly move from subject to subject.
I make fill-in-the blank worksheets and tests for science, history, Bible and more. I keep a hard copy in a binder and a digital copy on my computer and back it up.
You can also look on line and see who has done the hard work for you. There are many bloggers and other homeschool mom who share their printables — for free! Sometimes you may decide to purchase something as it saves you so much time and work.
There are so many other ways that you can be prepared to homeschool your children. These are just a few that popped into my head. I will try to do another post and share with you some more of the printables I have made for classes.
Here are just a few printables that I have made to make my life easier in teaching:
- ABeka Phonics boardwork for Kindergarten Phonics— I have only used this once and I know there are a few errors. I will have to go back through and edit it later. This corresponds with ABeka’s Homeschool K5 Phonics, Reading, Writing and Numbers Curriculum Lesson Plans, 2nd edition. You can click HERE to access this.
- The 1st grade Phonics boardwork needs some editing. I updated it, but when I transferred it to Google Docs, I need to tweak some things. This also is an older edition, so I don’t know if it corresponds with the newest edition. I bought up a few of the last edition when I knew they were updating.
- ABeka’s 2nd grade Phonics boardwork — again, this is for an older edition. I bought up a couple of workbooks when I knew they were updating their curriculum. I do not know if it corresponds at all with the new curriculum. Whenever I have to switch over, I will find out.
- Saxon 1st grade meeting form — I laminated this and used it every day for math meeting. I used wet erase markers that could be wiped off with a wet towel.
- Saxon 2nd grade math meeting papers. Saxon gives a little form that can be copied, but you still would have to write in the pattern and money. It also was tiny. One of my students this year is doing a lot of her work at home as her brother has leukemia. I could make a copy and send it home with her and then have a copy at school for the other 2nd grader to use.
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