It's that time of year when our traditional school clocks are dinging with the anticipation of another year of learning. For some of you it may be your first time homeschooling and for others you may have multiple years under your belt. Whichever category you fall into, I believe the beginning of the school year holds excitement and anticipation for all the things we want our children to learn and accomplish. I believe that every single one of you have the potential to have the homeschooling year you envision. Without further ado I give you the top 5 list to creating your amazing homeschool year.
1. Set time aside in the beginning of the year and make a vision for your year. Like the wise adage goes, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail." Although you may not need to have every single detail of your child's year written down, it is a good idea to go through each month subject by subject and lay down some key ideas or goals that you want them to accomplish. When you start writing down what you want to accomplish it gives your mind clarity and a realistic look at how the year will go. I use this planner which is simple and straight forward.
Then at the beginning of each week you can look at what you planned to accomplish and plan for the week accordingly. I often find that we don't get to everything we want to do, but having a loose framework for what to do keeps us focused.
2. Say no to over scheduling. It is so easy to get swept into over scheduling our kids. Yes, even as homeschoolers many of us have worn ourselves ragged by signing up to every activity that is offered. Let me speak from my own experience and say to use your discretion when doing so. Often when we are constantly driving our kids from one activity to the next, the level of energy and love for that sport, art, dance, whatever class dwindles and instead of pursing it with passion, it becomes a burden. Often this can take away from the energy we could be putting in other areas of learning right at home. When going over which classes to sign up for, ask yourself if 4 months from now will it seem like a chore more than a beneficial activity for your child.
3.Schedule downtime and relaxation the same as you would schedule your lessons. Just the same as not over scheduling your kids, it is key to schedule free play or downtime into your schedule. If we are meant to function the way we were designed to, each day needs to be partly filled with a time of restoration. This can take many different shapes in kids' lives. But I believe just as kids get recess on a daily basis at traditional school, daily scheduled time at the park, lego building time, or simply hanging out in the hammock time needs to be a scheduled priority. When you build this in to your daily calendar, it gives everyone something to look forward to and a good space to restore your physical and mental capacity.
4. Find your squad. This can be a tricky one for homeschoolers. If nothing else I say take a very proactive stance on this one. Go out and find other homeschoolers that you and your children get along with. It's not that hard. Get on facebook, go to a co-op, or find a class and challenge your kids to find friends. Just like we set learning goals we also set social goals. When entering a new class, I often challenge my kids to try and find one new friend. Sometimes this may take many attempts before they find people they can gel with. (Homeschool kids can be weird) Of course I'm joking... all kids are weird. But once you find these people that you can gel with, make it a priority to meet up with them 2-3 times a week. Include them on outings, dinners, movies, or whatever. Do not make this a once in a while thing. Schedule it in to your weekly calendar. Because remember, friendship takes some time to cultivate and as homeschoolers we do not get the luxury of our children seeing the same kids in their class on a daily basis. Be proactive and make it happen. I promise if you put the work into this one, you will have an amazing homeschool year.
5. Get away from your kids. This is a priority. Just like anyone needs a break from the job that they have, you as a homeschool mom need a break from your role as teacher/parent. I know that you are working your butt off. I know that you are giving all of yourself to your kids because you love them so much. However if you do not get away from them from time to time, you may be doing them a disservice. Schedule a time where you can focus on you. Do something unrelated to your kids that sparks joy and creativity. Go for a run, take a painting class, get lost in nature because whatever it is that you can do to invest into yourself, your children will actually benefit from. You will come back feeling energized and refreshed ready to love, teach, and motivate. You are now equipped to create the best year of homeschooling yet.