I think it is fair to say that our worlds have been turned upside down this past month. The goals we wanted to accomplish, the activities we were participating in, and the events we were looking forward to have all been cancelled. We have had to adjust to this new way of life, and for many, that means staying at home with our kids ALL DAY, EVERY DAY…and not just that….we have to HOMESCHOOL them, too!
You may not have signed up to be a homeschool mom or dad, but now that we are all in the same boat, let’s talk about 5 tips to survive homeschooling without sinking or jumping overboard. Perhaps these tips will not only help you survive homeschooling, but help you thrive as a new and improved homeschool parent!
1. Spend Quiet Time Each Morning Planning Your Day
Every mom needs some time alone each morning to get filled up, whether that’s her morning coffee, a jog around the block, or time in prayer. We need to get filled up first before we can pour into everyone else in the family.
Every morning I wake up, and the first thing I do is wrap my fuzzy blanket around myself, grab my journal, pen, and Bible, and I pray and ask God to fill me with the peace and wisdom I will need to handle the day. I make a tentative schedule, including schoolwork with the kids, household chores, projects, time to myself, and fun time for the kids, and then I present the schedule to the kids over breakfast, giving them each a sticky note with their schedule to follow. If your kids are older, you can have them come up with their own schedule with your guidance!
When kids know what they are expected to do, they are less likely to get distracted or get in trouble, and they will have activities to look forward to when they finish the things they don’t really want to do but have to do first.
2. Make a Decision to Speak Only Words That Bring LIFE
One of the most impactful truths I learned from a parenting class is to ONLY speak words of LIFE to your kids.
Instead of saying, “Don’t be so mean to your sister,” say “Let’s be kind to your sister today.”
Instead of asking, “Why are you always so distracted?” try “I know you can try your best to focus today.”
Instead of saying “You are acting so crazy today!” how about asking, “Are you listening and following directions?”
When we speak the negative words to our kids, they are hearing that THEY ARE mean, distracted, or crazy, and they will often live up to the identity they are receiving. The more we speak words of life, the more these life-giving words, rather than the negative ones, will become a part of their identity.
3. Spend Intentional, Undivided Time with Your Kids First
I find it works best to put my time with the kids at the beginning of the schedule so that I can attend to their schoolwork first before doing the other things I need to get done throughout the day. I find this really works best because if I am just always “around” if they need me, I am constantly getting distracted from what I want to get done, which makes me frustrated and irritable with the kids. I am also not giving them my best.
I usually start with focusing on my youngest’s needs and go through all the schoolwork he needs my help on first. My oldest does all the work she can do independently first and saves the “Mommy work” for when I am ready to help her. Dedicating a specific time with each child also helps me to not feel pulled in all directions.
I try to do some “play time” with my younger one as well, and after I have met both of my kids’ needs, I focus on the things I want to get done. When our kids’ cups are filled up first, they will be less likely to distract us later, especially if they have a schedule of things they can be doing when you are getting your things done.
4. Pick One Issue of the Heart Your Kids Need to Work On, and Coach Them Through That Heart Change
As you’re spending time at home, you may have noticed some little house projects that have been neglected for years that you are finally able to tackle! While these projects can be laborious, they can also be very rewarding! (Don’t ask me how long it took me to clean my oven (that had NEVER been cleaned) the other day…YIKES!) But like these projects, our children need our help in some areas too! We finally have TIME to notice the areas where they need our help, and we can work on those heart issues with them, getting rid of some of that “grime” and replacing it with beautiful, shining spirits! Our kids are not going to magically improve just from bringing their character flaws to their attention, though. They need to understand “why” it’s wrong and “how” to get rid of it. Once they fully understand and have practiced the character trait you are working on, use consistent consequences when they do not display the trait. I have found that natural consequences work much better than reminders and lectures.
For more on how to do this, read 5 Ways to Teach Godly Character.
If your biggest struggle is that your kids are constantly fighting with each other, check out this Teaching Your Kids How to Get Along devotional.
If you want help teaching a specific character trait, search my website, and you will find many appropriate devotionals to choose from.
Another great resource for character training is the book, Parenting With Scripture. The book is filled with character principles and can be used as a resource or devotional.
Like my oven, you may not see perfect results immediately , but over time, if you are intentional to keep focusing on your children’s hearts, you will see the rewards you are hoping for!
5. Don’t Neglect Taking Care of Yourself
Make sure to schedule some time for things YOU want to do in your day! Just like your kids with their school work, you may not want to sit and help them with their algebra all day, but you can choose rewards for yourself and even little breaks to get away and recharge. (And when I say get away, I mean leave the room so you can really get away.) I will often take little breaks and go in my room to check my messages, pray, or even take a little walk by myself to get some space. And having planned out intentional time WITH my kids, I have no guilt about taking some time to recharge myself, too!
Remember, you are not alone- we are all in this boat together! Ask a trusted friend for help, or if you have further questions about homeschooling, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help you with any specific issues you are going through with homeschooling or connect you with resources to help. If you are curious how homeschooling works, I have interviewed some seasoned moms who share the amazing benefits of homeschooling as well as what it looks like to homeschool with a co-op and homeschool with an eclectic approach. You would be surprised how many resources are out there to help families with the homeschooling process, so you don’t have to feel the responsibility of teaching everything. It’s much easier than you would think!
In the following months I will be discussing other educational models, including the university model, of which our family is a part, private Christian schools, public schools, and how we can can keep our kids’ faith strong with each of these approaches to educational.
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