And so it begins again, time to plan our 2015 – 2016 homeschool year. One of my very best friends, who also homeschools, called me the other day and asked if I had a plan. I LOVE her to death and think everyone needs a homeschool friend like her who you can get real with – anyway, we both agreed not to have the “planning” conversation again until at least the beginning of August. I told her, at the time, I was planning on Unschooling or taking a “Gap” Year – can one even do that with an 8th, 7th, and 5th grader? Just kidding … I have not gone completely off the deep end but, sometimes the thought of planning another school year can get me a little crazy. I have gleaned so much knowledge in my last 9 years of doing this … So, if you are just starting out as a homeschooler or dreading planning out your own year – please read on.
First, I will tell you we have done it all … or, at least it feels like we have. Everything from “out-of-the-box” traditional Christian curriculum, like Abeka, all the way to a Charlotte Mason eclectic mix. We have done Classical Conversations and outside classes at a local hybrid school.
What have I learned … they are all great! Each one of the programs/curriculum’s we have participated in were amazing. Now, don’t get me wrong none of them were perfect and you can always find something you wish might work better or be taught differently.
So, as you begin to plan your year and as I plan mine keep this mind – there really are not too many “wrong” choices out there. Do not compare your children and your homeschool to what everyone else is doing around you. Now, that’s not to say that you don’t ask for some suggestions or recommendations but, remember, everyone has an opinion and you must decide for yourself what will work.
We have the blessing of being a part of a large homeschool group (we have for many years). If I surveyed those families – out of 100, I would probably find 85 of them doing something different. Even those families who might be in an on-campus program one or two days a week, their days at home probably look different then their friends. Do what works for you!
Second, those cute “homeschool rooms” may be great when your kids are really little (think early elementary) but, trying to replicate a school room is really not necessary. Remember, you homeschool for a reason. If you wanted your child in a traditional public school classroom they would be there. I drove myself crazy setting up our rooms just perfectly for many years. Then my kids grew older and I found 1/4 way into our homeschool year everyone was homeschooling around the house. While some prefer the quite of their bedroom others prefer to stretch on our wood floor or a gymnastics mat as they do math or read. We still like to come together to do history and science – that is now around our dining room table or kitchen table.
I found that it is more important for the kids’ work to be portable so they each have a large wicker basket and a plastic basket – both fit into a large IKEA shelving unit. Small whiteboards, an individual pencil box, and a clipboard are necessities. All these items can easily be gathered up and taken with us outside or to a ballet/baseball private lesson during the school day.
Third, do not attempt to keep up with your friend who has the perfect homeschool room, the perfect curriculum which must equate to perfect children! Trust me when I say “no homeschool is perfect” – some are just better at faking it. I am ashamed to say I am probably one of those. Early on I would even coach my children exactly what to say if someone asked how our homeschooling was going. No more … we have struggles, my kids have strengths and weaknesses, just like any student.
Love on your children, enjoy your time together (it goes by way too fast), when things get really hard or your having a bad day – get up and get out of the house. Go for a hike, grab a snack at the donut shop, remember the reason you homeschool! We homeschool for flexibility and the ability for our children to learn with curriculum tailored to their own uniqueness.
I look back at how my mom homeschooled my three youngest siblings … my Mom and my Dad (a public school teacher – gasp!) homeschooled before homeschooling was the “in” thing to do. There were very few “out-of-the-box” curriculum’s to pick from and no big homeschool convention to attend. My three youngest siblings are awesome individuals … one of them went on to become a professional ballerina, the other is now in Sommelier school, and the third is helping run a professional football franchise. They were allowed at young ages to follow their unique path!
As we all head down the planning path for the coming school year let’s all remind each other what is important, why we homeschool, and the need to keep it simple! Happy Planning!
Have you started to plan for the new school year? Is your year already planned? What is on the horizon?