Here you are on your first day of homeschooling and you are suddenly feeling extremely unprepared…
Doubt starts to creep in and you second guess your homeschooling decision. Where do you go from here?
Well let’s back up a minute. You must have had a reason to start homeschooling in the first place, right? Maybe it was because the public schools in your area aren’t adequate and you feel like your child is falling behind. Or maybe this was the plan from the beginning and you always knew you were going to homeschool.
Everyone has a different starting point. For some of us it is to help our struggling child with one on one learning. For others, you were ahead of the game and knew in advance this is what you wanted to do. Whatever stage you decide to homeschool, you will always have that first day.
The first day at anything is hard. Think about your first day at a new job. It is nerve-wracking and filled with questions and doubts and mistakes. You want to do a good job but don’t have the knowledge or experience to do it, yet. But you will.
Start with a Homeschooling plan
Figure out what you plan on doing before that day arrives. Get your curriculum set-up or sorted through. Think about your goals for the year and what your main focus will be. I use a web-based curriculum with my boys. I like it because it takes the stress out of planning. It lays out the classes for me and each day they know what is expected of them. I have to rearrange the classes to my liking and make adjustments to things, but for the most part it gives us a good guideline to follow.
You do not have to figure out the entire year before hand. This is a sure-fire way to stress yourself out. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and come up with your own lesson plans. Unless of course you want to. But for the rest of us less crafty people there is gobs of free information out there on the web to help with ideas and planning.
You want to have a plan so your first day of school goes well. You will figure out as you go along what works for your family. As children grow, things change. What worked last year, won’t necessarily work this year. You need a starting point just don’t leave it to the morning of the first day.
Set up a schedule
As I mention in my last article, 10 Secrets From a Homeschooling Momma I have a set time that we start school and a loosely based outline of the rest of our day. This has come from years of trial and error. This is what works for us. For some of you, it may need to be more detailed than that. You might set up to do classes in a certain order throughout the day. We tend to do Science experiments on Friday so we can end the week on a positive note. In fact, Friday is our extra day. It is the day we finish up anything pending from the rest of the week and then we do the fun stuff.
Some weeks can be challenging and it really helps to have something to look forward to.
This one is probably the #1 reason for parents to give up on homeschooling. I see it a lot. I have seen many well-intentioned moms start homeschooling with lots of excitement, only to find out that their children are not returning that excitement. There is a HUGE adjustment period to going from Mom to Teacher/Mom. The longer your child is in public school, the harder it becomes. It takes a while for them to come to terms with you teaching them. You might assign them a math lesson only to find out that they played around with Lego’s for a half an hour instead. It is intensified if your child has learning disorders or other behavioral issues.
This is where you have to be creative. In the beginning of my homeschooling career, I used a point system with my boys. For every morning and afternoon, they stayed focused they earned a sticker on a sticker chart. The charts would get filled up and that would equal a small treat from the dollar store or a special dessert. This worked when they were little. Once they reached the age of about 10, they just laughed at me. That was when I had to start using tough love. “Oh, you didn’t finish your assignments? Nope you can’t play with your friends today.” Another biggie for us it to assign extra chores. You know the ones, no one wants to do. Like picking up dog poop in the yard. There became consequences for not doing their work.
I can tell you I have very little issues with this now but I have fought some pretty hefty battles with my oldest son over school. The key is to be consistent.
Reflect on the day
Take the time after your first day and every homeschool day to just think. You need the time to unwind and have a mental break. You can ponder what worked really well that day or you can realize what was a complete disaster. This is when you take a moment for yourself to breathe.
Sometimes at the end of a homeschooling day you just need to know that you survived it. That the kids got through their assignments and no one killed each other. Not every day is filled with rainbows and sunshine, some are just plain hard. Most days will fall somewhere in the middle.
If the curriculum you picked is just not working for you, don’t be afraid to change it up. Modify it to fit your family needs this year and be on the look-out for something different for next year.
If you need suggestions on incentive programs or have any other questions leave me a comment. I will gladly do my best to answer them.