Strategies of Homeschooling – Tips Learned While Educating Our Girls

I've noticed many parents expressing hardship over the learning curve of homeschooling.  These tips I provide are more centered around helping the parent find strategies that assist with that process, more than educational resources implemented for the child. Given my background of raising my two girls through traditional public school for several years, then transitioning them to homeschool education while having no prior experience of educating children myself, I thought I would share some of the tips I have learned along the way.  Our girls are both grown women with college degrees now. As I look back, I can not attest to being the perfect parent, nor that I felt at any time during those homeschool years that I had things all figured out, but I will say, I was there.  No matter where a parent chooses to educate their child, my first advice would be to challenge you to be all in.  I will provide a bit of history of my own experiences to explain this.  

I held a mainstream career for years.  After my first child was born, I chose to open a child care facility in my home.  I continued this profession ranging from full-time to part-time for a few years while my girls were young.  This provided more time with my own daughters during their early years.  It was also during this time that I discovered the love for creating fashion and was able to transition to a career in custom design work and learn a lot about boutique fashion.  Time really is a great tool when we utilize it well. 

During those years while children would come and go from my home, I often marveled at some of the strategies parents would use in coaxing their children to even the smallest of tasks, such as putting a coat on, or getting into the car, or even out the door.  Sometimes I would witness a long drawn out struggle.  As parents, we have all faced our challenges of trying our best to convey our importance to the ones we love.  I observed then, and still that the parents who usually have the most success are the ones who are calmly confident and remain true to their words and actions.  It is as if the child is yearning to see leadership in their parent in this manner.  This is true for any age, is it not?  Are we more apt to comfortably follow a person who is inconsistent and sporadic with emotions, or do we naturally gravitate to calm consistency and proven strategy?  My point in this topic is to say, be all in as a parent.  Remain true to yourself first, take the time to understand the needs of your child, and be supportive and proactive in whatever education process you choose for your child.  Then watch as your consistency helps guide your child to finding education to be more enjoyable.  Remember, they learn from you first, and they are listening.   I think the most challenging part of parenting is to remain consistent, and that the consistency we choose determines the outcome.  

As you read through these tips below, know that they are brief recaps.  This is not a conclusive list, as so many values have been learned along the way.  I've stated previously that I was not the perfect parent, nor perfect at educating while I learned homeschool along with my girls, but I was all in and so was my husband.  The daily responsibility of homeschooling was mine in part, but we as parents were together on this being the best choice for our girls.  (This in itself could be a full point expanded.)  We were also all in to homeschooling no matter what the perspective of the rest of the world was at the time in regards to our decision.  Each of us are given as parents the tremendous privilege to guide our children in the best way we are able to determine.  One of the best things I observed along the way is the simple reflection how each of us are wired so differently for unique interests. To witness each of my girls growing and choosing their fields of interest and developing in that, was for me one of life's greatest blessings. Time passes so quickly, especially during those busy years.  Observing as your child becomes who they are meant to be is both a joy and a privilege.  We are very proud as parents of the strong individuals, gifted women each of our girls have become.  

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Be Prepared for the Day

Treat yourself to a fresh start before the day begins.  To feel refreshed, dressed and ready for success, creates positivity and expectation.  The effort you put into preparing yourself for the day, could very well determine the effort your child puts into their own day and tasks at hand.  Demonstrate to them the level of success you expect, and watch as they begin to follow your lead in being ready to dial their own day and tasks at hand.  

Don't try to be the "Perfect Parent"

No different than in life itself, there are going to be days that just feel like things are backwards, or imperfect.  Don't try to be without fail.  Rather, let your kids learn from you how you grow through challenges.  There is no "perfect way" of educating.  There is only learning strategies that are improved upon all the time, and people who are inventing them.  Explore what works best for your family.  Rather than setting perfection as a goal based off traditional styles of education, strive for the greatness that your child is capable of reaching.  Embrace the opportunity to help your child find the best way they enjoy learning about life and how they will use what they learn to impact our world for the better.

Create Clarity with a Calendar 

Create a calendar with assignment tasks for them to accomplish each day.  I found it useful to create a table much like a monthly calendar looks, with the days of the week at the top of the sheet, and the subjects at the side.  This way your child can tackle a box at a time, and check off each assignment done per subject throughout their day.  This gives them the feeling of more control over when or what subject they would like to address first within reason.  This also helps them realize their own motivation in completing the tasks.  The school day is finished when all is checked.

Create a Personal Work Space

It is good to have an area where work is brought back to at the end of the day, and an area where work which requires parental guidance is completed.  However, giving each child their own space for tasks, gives them a sense of ownership and routine. It also gives them a space to walk away from when finished, and a sense of completion for their day.

Don’t Doubt, Provide Confidence

Stay confident in your decisions and your role and model that to your kids.  The hardest part of being both teacher and parent, is separating each role.  When you are teacher, remind yourself that.  No different than yourself feeling a grudge about regulations in place, or procedures to have to implement in order to achieve a certain level in your own life, we all have our personal responses or moments of indifference about the work involved at the moment.  It is easy to want to slip into parent mode of coaching our child how to respond to their struggle over a task.  Reminding yourself to remain the teacher keeps yourself intact during those moments a child may offer emotional rebuttal or even confusion over a task.  It is good for them to think for themselves and to feel the power of accomplishment that provides.  When your child is feeling stagnant in their work, ask them questions to inspire their thinking more than state facts they should know.  Lead them to find the answer for themselves.

Center Work Around Interests

Each of us are unique and have different interests and learning styles.  Pay close attention to your child’s style and interests.  Do they love baseball?  Let them research the history of a famous player, or write a paper or complete a project centered around the theme of baseball.   When my girls were young, they loved creating graphics of horses because they were and are animal lovers.  One showed interest in other forms of art, and is now very accomplished in that skill, self taught.  The other now works for a significant media company, and provides a very creative perspective for their team as a marketing expert.  Letting them study around their focused interest can help develop skills they will continue to utilize and potentially monitize later.  Even if they are not sure what career they want to pursue as they grow, they will have skill sets which could lead to their desired career or help point them in the right direction based off their confidence in that skill.

Individual Focus

Each child needs to feel important and valued.  Giving each child individual focus reminds them you notice them, and reinforces their desire to learn from you as their mentor.  Finding simple ways to notice their initiative and praising them for a good behavior, or sitting down to play a game with them for a few minutes, can really energize their esteem.  

Read, Read, and Read.. Together

We all know how vauable reading is, so take this time to read at the same time your child is doing their reading.  This give them the mentorship they need and the community feel of mom/dad is in this with me.  Learning new insight is refreshing for yourself as well, plus a quiet moment together creates a much needed solace at times you are craving quiet.

Add Home Chores to the List

(I laugh now years later, knowing my kids might have rolled their eyes at this one, but over the years, it did teach them the value of self discipline.  It wasn't long before they were doing tasks on their own without my coaching involved.  They recognized the benefit for themselves.  So give it a try!)
This is not only great exercise, but accomplishes two things in one.  A clean home, and responsible child.  Make the tasks specific and doable for each child, such as carry your own clothes to the laundry room, or feed the dog.  Simple is the key.  If they see the chores as doable, and know that their day is complete once their list is fully checked, it not only lets them feel more in control of their day, but before they know it they will begin doing chores as second nature and be more apt to realize the value and ease of doing so on their own.

Provide Simple Incentives

No different than we as adults like to hear praise and positivity, kids thrive on the same.  If they have small goals to work toward as they accomplish their tasks for they day, there is more incentive in completeing the tasks timely.  You can also incorporate activity for them through this.  Simple things like, taking the dog for a walk, or deciding the game that the entire family will play that evening, to being the one who gets the first piece of dessert after dinner, providing incentives gives your child a target to reach.  You might even ask them what some of their favorites things to do around the house are, and incorporate their likes into their incentive schedule.  Having goals to work toward creates a positive self motivated environment, especially when they are able to create some of the ideas for these goals for themselves.  The key to this strategy is to keep the goals of the day ending on a positive note.

Evening Recap

This step is simply a parenting tip, but one I found created a treasure of fond memories to look back on with my own kids, and provided a renewing energy for the next day.  I don’t think I can stress the value of this point enough.  Taking a few moments at the end of the day to just sit on the floor in your child's room, or their space of interest and having no adgenda but to reflect on good points of the day, to pray, but mostly to listen is such a key tool and positive step of creating an atmosphere where your child will feel welcome to express their feelings about the day, or just in general.  They will feel more rested, connected and understood  if they are able to convey their perspective of the day.  It just might surprise you the little things they may have noticed that you did not, or the cute or funny stories they may share.  

Praise, Praise, Praise

I will end with this as a step to implement in every part of your day.  It is so easy to slip into the i can’t syndromes, or to find a lack of motivation for the moment or subject that may seem uninteresting.  Focusing on the good in each moment can turn the perspectives of i can’t around to seeing what is possible.  Each moment stands on its own, and they all add up collectively.  So make each one a great one.  It is your day to make, your child to inspire, your memories to look back on.  Make them great.  You will be glad you did.

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