Homeschooling is fun, scary, frustrating, fulfilling, and confusing – all rolled into one package. As the parent/teacher/principal it can be difficult to set boundaries and get everything done without feeling like a dictator. There are a few tricks veteran homeschoolers (usually moms) have learned that can help you find the right balance for your family while juggling these different roles.
Even if you are a rabid unschooler, having a routine in place for the daily basics can go a long way in helping maintain a minimum of chaos. Homeschool allows for a lot of freedom and the flexibility is great. Still, having regular bed times, meal times, and wake up times make you and your children more predictable.
Your routine does not have to be nine-to-five but it should be something that works for your family. If your kids are very young, work regular naps or quiet time into your day. If your children are teens, you might find your days to be more productive if you all sleep in and stay up later. Teens are generally nocturnal and the ability to let them sleep is a big bonus.
Some people find it helpful to have four longer school days and one day free to run errands and make doctor appointments. See what works for you and stick with it as much as possible. A little structure can work wonders!
Have a Plan
Develop some kind of plan (in pencil) for each day, week, month, or year – whatever time frame feels right to you. When you have a plan it is easier to keep track of what your kids are doing and if anyone is falling behind or working far ahead. Here are some free homeschool planners from Donna Young’s website to get you going (she has TONS of free stuff to help you in your homeschool journey). This should help you stick to your plan and the homeschool boundaries you’ve set for your kids and yourself.
If your child is struggling with a certain area, don’t immediately assume that they are being lazy or are goofing around instead of getting their work done. While that might be the case, look at the material you have them working with first. Is it a good fit? Sometimes you just choose the wrong thing and have to start over. If the work is too hard or easy, kids will often drag their feet about getting it done.
Give your child the benefit of the doubt. Know your child’s learning style (hands-on, visual, aural, a mix). Be willing to find a new way to teach a subject if your first attempt is unsuccessful.