June 12, 2023
We have been enjoying summer break for about a month now (our last day of school was May 10) which is hard to believe. Last year was our first official year of “Qurollo Christian School.” The year had its ups and downs, but I look back with gratitude for many lessons learned, mostly on this mama’s part.
While planning and preparing for this upcoming year, I have also been pondering the many lessons learned from last year. Sure, I’m not a veteran homeschool mom of 20 years with 12 kids, but I certainly grew in my homeschooling skills. My hope is to encourage another homeschool mom who, like myself, may be VERY anxious about starting homeschool. I hope to share some thoughts that may help to calm the anxious homeschool parent’s heart.
Plan Ahead…But Not Too Far Ahead
You may have heard me talk about all the crazy plans I had before starting my oldest in school. My goal was to map out curriculum for all of my children’s education from K4 through 12th grade. I look back at that goal and laugh!
Something that I am learning is that God does not give us a road map for our entire lives from start to finish. Honestly, I am so thankful that I do not know everything that will occur in my life. What I do know is that God will be with me and guide me each step of the way.
Often, God provides just enough wisdom to get through today. When tomorrow comes, He will provide the wisdom and grace that I need for that day. God has given me today what I need.
Similarly, with homeschooling, we do not need to fret and fear and try to plan out every miniscule detail for the rest of our children’s education. Should we have a general plan? Absolutely! No plans equals failure, but we do not need to worry about every last detail years into the future. God will give wisdom at each juncture of decision.
Children’s needs change, and our needs as parents may change as well. We need to extend ourselves the grace to adjust according to life’s circumstances to best meet the needs of our families. One curriculum that worked well for one child may not be a good fit for another child. Perhaps a significant family event calls for simplification, or maybe you find that your children need more of a challenge. Whatever the case, learning to be flexible is key in homeschooling.
While planning too far ahead isn’t absolutely necessary, we do need to have a plan for what lies immediately before us. The best time to plan for school is not in the middle of school! This may seem like a “duh” statement, but it’s so very true. The best time to plan for school is when I don’t feel the pressure of homeschool on my shoulders and can actually relax, step back, and evaluate what we have done and where we are headed.
I tend to make more emotion-based decisions when I’m in the thick of homeschooling. When I dedicate some time in the summer or during a break week to plan ahead and map out our goals, I can do so with joyful anticipation instead of drudgery.
The summer is the perfect time to create a general plan for the following schoolyear. I like to use this time to gather my books, fill out registration with our local homeschool association (required in SC), clean out my homeschool drawer, and just get as much ready as possible. By having things ready to go, I feel a sense of peace and “let’s do this!”
Reverse Lesson Planning
I used to spend HOURS writing out lesson plans for the next 6-week installment of school (we loosely follow the sabbath schedule detailed in Sarah MacKenzie’s Teaching from Rest). Then one day I came across a blog post by Jacinda from Northern Nester where she shared that at the end of each day she wrote down in a journal what she and her children had accomplished in school that day. This revolutionary concept got my mental wheels turning.
Still desirous of taking careful records for each subject, I came up with an idea that recorded our work but didn’t require hours upfront. I simply took the lesson plan template I had been using, and after each day, I wrote down in the specific subject categories what we accomplished that day. I saved a tremendous amount of time in planning and didn’t feel guilty if we didn’t accomplish some elaborate plan that I had created. This may not work for everyone, but I felt more relaxed in my homeschooling when I switched to this style of lesson planning about 2/3 of the way through last school year.
Learn to Relax
One of the biggest lessons that I learned as a homeschool mama last year was the tremendous need for me to relax! If you know me personally, you know that relaxing is not a word that suits my personality very well and is something I have to force myself to do.
If I was anxious and even upset about school, chances are my children sensed my angst and replicated my behavior. When I relaxed and realized that as long as we were doing our best and that everything would be okay, my kids and I started to enjoy school much more.
The 4 Hour School Day by Durenda Wilson greatly influenced my thinking and helped me to realize that I can relax as a homeschool mom. As long as we are fulfilling our state requirements and engaging in learning each school day, it’s all going to be okay!
Gather Homeschool Books that Will Become Your Friends
I remember Sally Clarkson saying in one of her books that a homeschool parent should create a collection of encouraging homeschool books that can be read over and over again, almost like sitting down with an encouraging friend. So I have tried to create my own encouraging collection. A small cased opening between our entryway and living room provides a cozy nook for some of my favorite books and current tomes. I smile when I see these books knowing the edification they have brought to my heart.
Thank you for joining me today! I hope your heart was refreshed if you are in the midst of homeschooling. If you know a homeschool mama or parent, would you share this post with them? Perhaps it could be encouragement to someone to keep on the road of homeschooling.