Helpful Tools

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to homeschooling.  Sure, having some basic tools can be very helpful!  Like a microscope, library card, internet access, etc.  But what else is important to have when homeschooling?  Here are some things I’ve come up with based on my own homeschooling journey.

The biggest most helpful thing to have would be -hands down- patience!  Patience with yourself more than anything else.  There are good days and there are bad days.  There are days when everything just falls into place and you’ve managed to accomplish everything you wanted to get done.  And there are days that just don’t quite work out the way you dreamed it would.  Have patience.  Seriously, the world will not come to an end if things don’t go quite as planned.  In fact, things rarely go as planned and that, dear readers, is what I love most about  homeschooling!  Go with the flow.  Don’t worry if everything on your list didn’t get checked for that day.  Once you find your rhythm, your groove, you’ll notice things will be easier.  And to get there, you need patience. :)

Keep realistic expectations.  Sure you’d like your child to be ahead but do you really need that kind of stress of rushing to get there?  Or would you like to simply cultivate your child’s love for learning and see them blossom naturally over time?

We found ourselves quite ahead in one subject and I went with it.  Followed the pace of my child.  Now, we’ve found ourselves on a plateau in said subject because it’s getting more challenging and I find that going at her pace is making the process of learning said subject far more pleasant.  There’s no “hurry!  you need to get this done by x date!”  The whole experience of schooling this subject is more relaxed and my child is more open to learning this challenging subject.

Routine.  I’m not sure if this is for everyone, but for us routine is KEY to getting it done.  I used to tell my oldest that she could pretty much get her independent work done whatever time of the day that she wanted.  As long as it got done before bedtime I would be happy.  Well, allowing her to do it whenever ended up causing tears and frustration when she forgot to do her work and needed to complete twice the work the next day.  Now, we have a routine in place.  We get up in the morning, get our morning chores done and out of the way, grab a bite to eat, and head straight to our desk to get our assigned work done for the day.  Once it’s all done -and it’s usually done before lunch!- she is free to play and do whatever she pleases!  No more “woops! I forgot!”  No more tears, no more stress!  We have time to head out the door to co-op, to a field trip, to get together with friends for a playdate, etc.

Routine has really changed the when we do things and for the better.  Some mornings I find that she has gotten up before everyone and has completed her independent work without prompting from anyone!  She has come to realize that business before pleasure really is a good idea and a great life lesson.

If it doesn’t work -drop it!  Yes, really.  Yes, I know you spent a lot of money.  Yes, I know you are not made of money.  Nor am I!  This is why I spent hours and hours, days and days, researching curriculum before spending a penny.  And sometimes I end up absolutely loving a curriculum, ordering it for my child, and she absolutely hates it and it just isn’t working!  Arrrgh!  So yes, I too have found myself in this boat.  The frustration I feel and the frustration my child feels -well, you could hear it miles away, I’m sure!

For us, homeschooling is the opportunity to find what works and if it doesn’t find something else.  Not everyone learns the same way.  Sometimes pace must be adjusted and sometimes curriculums need to be changed.  Being given the opportunity to find the right materials for my children, is one of the biggest and best reasons that we chose to homeschool.  So I feel your pain if it comes down to this.  I really and truly do, but you will find your child will not learn if it isn’t working and all you’re doing is causing more stress (for yourself and your child!) and a growing resentment towards whichever subject you are adamant at seeing through with the wrong-fit curriculum.

On that vein, have confidence in yourself.  Confidence is key to homeschooling.  If you feel like you can’t, I bet you your child is seeing it and in turn will likely feel like s/he can’t do it either.  Believe in yourself.  If you have chosen this path for your family, then you can do it.  There is literally an ocean-full of curriculum choices, plethora of information at your fingertip via the Internet.  There is so so very much out there on every subject under the sun!  

I kid you not when I say I flunked algebra.  There, I said it.  The whole world wide web now knows.  I failed algebra.  It was the only subject I absolutely feared teaching.  Well, because, how could I possibly teach a subject I did not get!?  Well, in my case, I am re-learning it right alongside my daughter by finding an amazing company that helps teach the subject.  There are online classes, there are message boards with tons of others like you out there that could provide information, assistance, curriculum, co-ops, etc. that could help you.  Have confidence in yourself.  It is possible to homeschool even though you are not a professor in all the subjects.  You do not need to be a professor or have a PHD or anything like that!  You, yes you dear reader, a wonderful individual who wants what is best for their child, can accomplish this great and wonderful feat of educating your children.  Have confidence.  You have all the tools you need.