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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

10 Things I Do to Make Homeschool a Success

Updated: Feb 1


10 Things I Do As a Homeschool Mom - onlylovetoday.com

1. Homeschool Success means having a morning routine--not a morning schedule

I am not a pilot getting ready for take off--though I have acted like one at times. Every mom, family, and household has different homeschool needs and values. For us, we like to have a routine versus a schedule. A routine is an order in which you do things regularly. A schedule means the clock is king and when it's 9:15 that means it's math time no matter what is happening. Do we have a general start time for school? Yes. I aim for starting school around 8:00-8:30. That may seem like a wide time table but it allows me to sense where our kids are at, make sure I can eat something beforehand, and not be running around like crazy like I do when I try to make us a schedule family. We are a routine family. It's what works best for us.


Outdoor time for homeschool success

2. Encourage lots of outdoor time

Do I even need to discuss this? Getting dirty, being bored, learning to wander, create, and play outside are childhood rights! Boredom is the gateway to creativity! Fresh air and vitamin D can take the worst homeschool day and turn it into a dream. I often forget to take more outdoor breaks because I want us to work hard getting core subjects done, so I have to remind myself of this value. We have committed to a hiking group multiple times a month because exploring and enjoying creation has become a high value of ours. Even mom needs a walk around the block every once in a while to get that heart rate up, breathe fresh air, and remember that my kids and myself thrive in school/life when we've engaged in the outdoors.

audio books listening time for homeschool success

3. Learn by listening/hands on

The only subjects we do at the table are math and language arts. If I did a worksheet for every subject we all might die a slow death. The Type A-recovering perfectionist-taskmaster inside of me would love to actually do worksheets sometimes and check that box! I have to remind myself "why" we are homeschooling to keep me from making everything look like traditional school. Some of the reasons I'm homeschooling are to allow my kids to learn in the ways that are best fit for them, and have fun doing so! We use audiobooks for history and do fun crafts/activities on occasion that match up with what we're learning about. (Like learning about castles then creating edible castles out of rice krispy treats). For science we often listen to a nature podcast or do experiments with one of our fun at home science experiment books. My kids need to move to learn. The information/lessons they've held onto most have involved something interactive. So, I've decided that for now our homeschool will only have table time for math and language arts.


focusing on the level kids are actually at for homeschool success

4. Teach each kid at the level they are at--not where I think they should be

This is something I was encouraged to do by other veteran homeschool moms early on, and I've had to be reminded of this upon discovering some learning challenges one child has. I've struggled with thinking "they are ____ age so they should be doing _____level of math." This can hold a child back that's ready to launch, and it can put stress and anxiety upon a child that really needs help and a slower pace. Wherever my kids are at is exactly where God wants them to be and I need to submit to His plan. It's been encouraging to hear from multiple doctors and educators that what we're doing is working and my kids are succeeding in this environment. All glory to God! I have to be reminded of this teaching philosophy often, honestly. My pride and "go-getter" attitude can sometimes start driving our homeschool instead of the reality of where my kids actually are, and where God wants me to lead them to. Surrendered, that's where I really want to be when it comes to assessing our current academic state--surrendered to the humble reality of where we're at and where Holy Spirit is leading. Trusting that even if a child is in multiple grade levels in multiple subjects that God will fill in the gaps and it will all come together eventually.


find community for homeschool success

5. Stay plugged in with our homeschool community

I refuse to "mom" alone, so I knew when God called our family to homeschooling that I would need to find a tribe to journey with. My homeschool circle has honestly been one of the only constants since moving to Loveland eight years ago. They've seen me cry over hard days, walk with me through testing and hard diagnosis findings with kiddos, but most of all they've just been steady in their commitment and that's given me strength to stay steady in mine. We've been going to the same park day on Wednesdays for eight years. Yes, we've had some people leave and others join, but for the most part the little circle that invited me in has stayed steady and encouraged and equipped me in ways I didn't even know I needed. I've watched multiple friends quit homeschooling and one of the common threads I've often noticed is that they lacked community--both them and their children. If motherhood can sometimes feel lonely, you bet that homeschooling is going to feel lonely to another degree--unless you engage with community. No one, and I mean no one, is meant to live without community. There might be seasons of finding the right community, leaving a community to start a new one, or even a quick sabbatical from homeschool community in general. However, wisdom from mentors and Jesus himself says to care for one another in doing life together, which is sometimes scarier and more vulnerable than living alone.

stay home a few days a week for homeschool success

6. Stay home two days of the week

Mondays and Tuesdays are homebody days for us. Yes, there's sometimes an appointment or impromptu playdate on those days, but very rarely in the mornings. I really try to protect those days for us to get a strong start after the weekend, and to enjoy schooling without any sense of "rush" to get somewhere. Our history curriculum is actually supposed to be read twice a week, but we double up on it and knock it out on Mondays usually. We are able to soak it in, discuss more, do the extra fun activities if we want to, and just have a nice pace to start our week. I know that park day is coming on Wednesdays, enrichment program is on Thursday afternoons, and twice a month hiking comes on Fridays, so I've got to protect precious homebody time. It's truly freeing knowing I'm NOT going to be driving the car anywhere on our home days. It's hard to say, "no" to invites sometimes, but time and time again we've reaped the rewards of mobileless Mondays.


begin the homeschool day early to finish early

7. Start early so we can finish early

Sometimes it's hard to get the crew moving in the morning, but all good habits take practice. I've found that moving your body into obedience eventually helps the mind to follow--sometimes we are "physically" ready to start our homeschool, but our mind might not be ready to engage with the world cause we're still waking up. We start slow. We gather in the family room to watch a ten minute overview of world news, listen to our Bible reading for the day, as well as listen to a read aloud for a short time. Kids are usually building, coloring, or playing quietly in some way during this morning time. It allows my preschooler and older son to get their wiggles out for a bit before we approach math or language arts during table time. Even if starting early seems like an uphill battle for a minute--it always pays off. Kids are excited to be done with most of their studies before lunch and have the rest of the day to engage in activities and the freedom to find adventure.


preschooler screen time for homeschool success

8. Allow the preschooler an hour of screen time

I actually loathe this, but it's where we're at right now. Teaching multiple grades as well as having a newborn has got me in a pretty humble position. Even before having a newborn my preschooler was getting screen time during math every day. I have two kids in two different grades, and one child needs extra tutoring. I have all kinds of fun activities for my preschooler to do by my side, but sometimes it's nice to not be interrupted for a little bit when teaching hard concepts. Thus, we have screen time. Sometimes it's educational, sometimes it's not. That's the hard honest truth.


offering what you can for homeschool and be at peace with it

9. Be okay with helping how I can

However much of yourself you give to your children, they will always want more. It's just the way it goes! Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed with having four children that need me desperately in very different ways. I've learned to ask for help, combine as many subjects as possible, and be "all in" when it's one on one time engaging with my kiddos. However, sometimes they need to be reminded that they can do hard things. They can figure out hard problems, read hard words, and learn independently when needed. For instance, my newborn really needed held the other day while I was helping an older child with their lesson. My older child was frustrated that I can couldn't sit next to them and read every single word and spoon feed their lesson to them. Sometimes we need to hit "pause" and come back to a subject when baby is sleeping and I can give my all. Other times, like earlier this week, my older child needed to be told, "I'm giving you all I can and I need you to be okay with that." They had to lower their expectations of me, struggle a little bit on their own, and be content with what I was able to help them with. Guess what? They managed just fine! Sometimes I need to realize it's okay to struggle with meeting everyone's needs, and that God will teach us patience and give us strength for it all when I seek Him.


protect alone time for homeschool success

10. Have protected "mom" time often

Early morning walks alone or with a friend, morning workouts, morning devotions, early coffee with a friend, monthly bookclub, afternoon recess outside for the kids while I'm inside...these are a few of the ways I've managed to secure some "mom" time to rethink, renew, and recharge. You'll notice that they aren't all "alone times" because I'm an extrovert--which means I recharge by being with people. However, no matter what personality God's made you with, each person does need alone time. It's in the stillness of being alone that God can often address things in your own heart to slow down, process, and downshift from running at high performing levels in your life. At this moment my baby is napping and my kids are playing outside with their sweet daddy who is about to hop on a plane for a quick work trip. I'm thankful to have a husband who encourages me to get out, meet up with others, and makes sure I have a quick breather before I'm the only adult in the house for a little bit. If I didn't have a supportive husband I'd have to get even more creative with holding space to nurture my own heart with the Lord. Each season looks different, and that's okay. Some seasons I've been able to spend an hour at the gym, other seasons have been filled with little twenty minute walks. Whatever the season I'm in, I know that I have to get right with myself and with the Lord alone, in order to be the mom He's calling me to be.


Conclusion

God has you in your role as a homeschool mama for more reasons than you can even fathom. He's called you to this and will help make your homeschool a success. It's okay to create a schedule, routine, habits, and disciplines that help your family succeed in the homeschool journey! Maybe it's time to ask Him if there's some things you need to let go of, change, or implement and trust that His grace is sufficient in it all! This is the same conclusion for my post entitled, 8 Things I DON'T Do As a Homeschool Mom, because everything we "do" and "don't do" in our homeschool should have purpose and value!

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