Wednesday, September 5, 2018

7 Things I'm Doing This Year to Make My Homeschooling Work Better with 5 Kids

I'm that slacker homeschool mom. The one who takes a half day off no problem, convinced that it will just be one half day and no more. Then it turns into another and another and soon we're like, "Uh, why don't we know cursive handwriting and our state capitals and multiplication tables?"

So after 11 full years of homeschooling, I'm learning. We are all settled in our new home in the country and we have a lovely little routine that won't likely be broken up by fixing up a house, moving, vacationing, a new baby, etc. It appears to be a smooth-sailing year up ahead. (yes, I know ... the best-laid plans!!!!)

1. Six weeks on, then a break
Teaching for 6 weeks at a time then taking a 1-week break. We'll still get a Christmas break, of course, and one of our 1-week breaks will count as Spring Break. We'll need to go until the end of June, but then we get 8 full weeks off after that (July and August).

2. Teach more than one at a time
Combining them. Brave Writer Help for High School will be done this year with both Michael and Joel (freshman and junior). They'll learn the material together as I read it to them so I make sure I know what's going on as well. They'll write papers and assignments at the same pace.

3. Make them accountable and independent
Emailing links for the week to the high schoolers with videos I want them to watch (e.g., Crash Course Biology, Crash Course History, cool documentaries on Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu, etc.) Copying their workbook pages for Easy Grammar and giving them the entire week's worth at once so they can do it all Monday or do it all Friday or throughout the week, working at their own pace and being able to deal with other things they have going on at the same time. I think learning how to manage their course load is important. For the younger kids, letting them know which pages need to be done by Friday in Explode the Code (such a fun workbook series for Language Arts).

4. Make things special
Making things special more often, like we planned to do last year. Today we have Back-to-School Little Debbie snack cakes with a battery-powered candle and some picture books. Yes, I make my older kids sit through picture book time. And I also make my younger kids sit through some things which may or may not be currently over their heads. It all works out in the end. Take time for fun field trips like we've always done, with our friends and on our own.

5. Lunch-n-Learn versus Morning Basket
Instead of a Morning Basket, which is a fabulous concept, I am doing a Lunch-n-Learn since the kids all wake up at different times, which is fine by me. We eat lunch, I read to them a selection of things covering all subject areas, and they are free to create art during this time as well. I don't need their eyes on me at all. They can paint or draw while they listen.

6. Be prepared
Before the kids even wake up, I pull off the main homeschool bookshelf anything I'm hoping to use that day. That way, I can SEE my "workload" for the day and so can the kids. Over the summer, I cleared the entire shelf off so now it's organized like this, and I don't have anything on there that will distract me from the current set of 6 weeks of homeschooling.

7. Check myself before I wreck our entire year
I must have rules for myself, which is something I always rebelled against. This year they include things I can handle: I can do my paid work in the morning after prepping for the homeschool day. I can only check my phone to handle immediate things like if my husband texts, a friend wants to come and play, etc. Otherwise, STAY OFF FACEBOOK and other social media is the number one rule for myself from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Don't go on a 2-hour field trip and call that an entire homeschool day. Oh, and make sure I'm logging their homeschool stuff every single day. I like to look back on it and it's helpful to have records just in case.

Check out our first official day of homeschool, day after Labor Day.



Here's to a fabulous school year!


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