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We are finally in the summer months, and for most of us, that means we get a break from teaching. However, if you're anything like me that just means that you're preparing for next year. While I may choose to take the easy route and have my kids in Connections Academy, I still know how much work homeschooler moms put into ensuring their children's education. I appreciate the time she spends on finding the perfect curriculum. Not to mention, trying to find a schedule that can be maintained.
Fresh Starts And Doubts
One of the things I value most about August is the ability for us to have a fresh start. In most cases, we also usually end up with a fresh classroom it seems. The beginning of every school year I know I'm usually filled with high hopes. I'm also filled with concerns too. It's easy to be consumed with doubt about whether or not they were fully prepared for the advanced year. This becomes especially hard to remember when they are going through the “summer slide” syndrome. You would think after eight years of experience that I'd know that it will even out because the first half of the year is almost all review for them in our school system.
I also wonder how it's all going to get done by the end date. However, I've also learned that there is more than enough hours in a day when we are using our time wisely. Yet, I forget that well-learned lesson when I look at our given lesson plans for the year.
The more advanced Jimmy's lessons get the more I have to relearn things with him. It's amazing how much I don't recall since I don't use the information. Yet, I took the same courses and made A's and B's in them in high school. In fact, I took even more extreme courses. I even have a college degree under my belt. Biology and certain aspects of Math are not my favorite subjects, and I didn't choose to remember the information as a result. Now I wish I had! It tends to slow us down a bit when I don't fully remember it all, but we DO get through it TOGETHER.
I'm telling you this to let you know that these feelings are perfectly NORMAL! I don't know of many homeschoolers who haven't felt these things a time or two, if not more.
Tips and Tricks That Work
There ARE going to be amazing AND terrible days on this journey. The days when everything falls into place and runs like a well-oiled machine are unfortunately pretty rare in my world. Yet, I still ride out the ups and downs of this ride because along the way I get to feel the high of being on top of the world with my kids too. I get to see their looks of wonder that they were able to accomplish something they struggled with for days on end. My kids and I have a bond that is pretty darn tight. They know I'll push the tar out of them because I believe in them. They may not like it while I'm doing it, but they appreciate it and give me high fives once they reach their finish lines.
Homeschooling my kids at times is like playing a card game. I have to know when to hold on tight and when to let them go. I have to carefully gauge when they need a break from it all and when I have to hold my ground and keep pushing. Sometimes I get those times wrong, but the longer I do this with my kids the more I can see the signs.
Learn Their Body Language
It's important to pay attention to their body language as much as it is to hear what they are saying. Many people have a hard time expressing what they are really feeling. Often times they want to quit when it's getting hard. Yet, they can be right at the breaking point of realization and that's the LAST thing you want them to during those times.
Here's the kicker though, we want them to transform into responsible adults who are independent of you too. It's important that they learn that they can conquer things without your assistance too. There is a fine line between leaving them hanging to figure it out and leaving them on their own. It's so easy to cross both sides. They have to know that you are there to catch them but not until they've given it their best effort by themselves.
Instead of immediately helping them solve a problem, give them a few minutes to do some exercise of some kind. Maybe take a break for a short family walk (and if they choose to talk about the problem with you, be sure to ask open-ended questions to help them think through the problem.) Sometimes I've been known to dangle a fun activity on the line for when they get done, and helps them put on their “thinking caps.” There are also times when I will look online for something that may aide them and send them the link. This way they are still figuring out the problem, but I'm helping them at the same time.
Break It Up
It has been said that it's better to work for 40 minutes and then take a 20-minute break from everything. I have attempted this method and it seemed to backfire on me. However, it very well may work for you. I think the reason it failed for me is that I have three kids. Plus, once other family members see my kids taking a break of any kind they steal one or more of my kids away from me throwing off everything we're doing. I'm hoping that next year it won't become an issue again.
Everyone Work Together
I have had the heart to heart talk with my family members over the past couple of weeks. It's important to have some type of an idea of what your schedule can look like. We are working together to come up with a schedule that works for the entire family.
Homeschooling is truly a family affair because everyone has to work together to keep everything afloat. If everyone doesn't carry their weight then someone or more obtain burn out too quickly. It's important to get your kids doing chores.
Talk to me in the comments, please:
What is some advice you'd love to give another homeschooler family?