Tips for Less Stress and More Fun While Homeschooling Little Ones
Pray without ceasing!: Seriously though before homeschooling, this didn’t come as naturally to me as it does now. As a homeschool mom, I find myself always in prayer starting early in the morning before the kid’s wake up; I pray to ask for God’s wisdom and direction for the day. We open our school with prayer, each taking turns to thank God for the opportunity to homeschool and learn about Him each day. We pray when we are having trouble with a subject for God to help us. I pray to communicate better with my children. I pray for wisdom and direction in how and what to teach. I pray for forgiveness when I catch myself teaching in the flesh and ask for help. The kids and I pray before each subject and ask God to help us to learn the subject and to see Him in it. The other day my son prayed, “God help me to learn how to read so that I can read your Word for myself.” Talk about a motivator to teach my boy how to read. Keeping the focus on the Lord, and doing all things unto Him, has given schooling an eternal purpose, and this is where we find peace and joy.
Do Not overbook your calendar: I am one to want to sign up for it “ALL” at church, you name a ministry, and I was involved, because I love God’s people and I felt like I was doing the Lord’s Work. I also often felt overwhelmed and irritated at my kids and husband because I was trying to finish a project for one ministry, as I was heading out the door to a different ministry meeting. Am I saying ministry work is terrible? Absolutely not! I am saying that we need to have our priorities in order, God first, (His Will, not mine for the ministries I serve in or join.) husband (1st ministry) and Children (2nd ministry). I am thankful to my God-fearing husband for pointing this one out to me. I am learning before committing to anything to pray about it and also talk it over with my husband. I need to be available for God to use me where He wills, and for me to be available for my husband and children.
Embrace the “WHY”: I confess I have been irritated more than I’d like to admit with the endless “why this? Why that?” from my children until the Lord helped me to see those as teachable moments, child-directed teachable moments. When I changed my perspective on the endless “Why?” and embraced them as fertile soil to teach my children. I began to encourage and enjoy the “Why ?” and these moments with my kids. I also saw that my children appreciated my complete attention and availability and soaked in all the info given.
Do not be held captive to your curriculum: Use your curriculum to structure your school days but do not let it dictate everything you teach your child. One size doesn’t fit all; each child learns differently. Be led by the Spirit, praying for wisdom and discernment. God knows your child best, what they’re thinking, how they learn, what their gifts are, and He has a plan and a purpose for them. Be observant of your child’s likes, interests, passions, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. If you are doing science, for example, and your child is really into seeds and the cycle of a plant, then dig deeper into it. Plant a seed, observe the cycle in your back yard — order books on seeds, gardening, trees, etc. from the library. Child-led learning is the best because they are engaged and wanting to learn more.
Meal prep lunches and snacks for the week: “I’m hungry, MOM.” The #1 sentence in all homes with growing children hands down. Feeding your children 1000 times a day can be a distraction when doing school, an annoyance, and a time suck if you let it. Take care of it before your school week starts and prep your lunches and snacks for Monday- Friday. Set an eating schedule for snacks and meals, then meal prep. You can make premade p&J sandwiches; I make a whole loaf of bread and freeze them in zip lock bags. You can make homemade Lunchables by dividing up lunch meat and cheese into snack zip lock bags or Tupperware. Cut up carrots, cucumber, celery and divide into snack sizes in zip lock bags or Tupperware.
Peaceful Library Trip: I think we must teach our children library etiquette, it’s not a playground; it is a calm, quiet, and orderly place. My children know how to act in a library for like 2 mins, then the wiggles and giggles take over and two rambunctious kids (age 6 and 4) enter the picture, and now you have a shushing mad dogging mom (that’s me) and it is far from a pleasant experience. Until now, I have discovered that you can go online and order books to be conveniently picked up, all nicely stacked at the book check out counter. YESSSS! It is awesome! (note: order books two weeks in advance of when you will want to use them in your schooling) Now I can get the books I need without the stress, and when I go to pick them up, my kids get to pick out three books each of their choice in the children’s section. Now going to the library is enjoyable.
Ordering groceries online: Such a time saver and a stress relief. I do think it is important to take the kids to the store and teach them about the way a grocery store operates, how to act in a store, where to find what you need, and my favorite is showing them the variety of different fruits and vegetables that God has created for us to eat. Although the convenience, stress-free, and the time I save with the online grocery shopping is a blessing.
Saved by The Bell (ok that may have aged me, lol): We take a break after every subject, my kids are little ages 6 and 4 so the wiggles need let out often for all of us. We usually do 30 mins of school, 30 min break, 30 min of school, 30 min break, all day long. When the kids leave for break, I let them know I am setting the timer on the stove so when they hear it ring they need to please come out ready to learn. Not sure why this works better than me calling them to come, but it does, and they love it, so we do it.
Forever Warm Coffee: I love my coffee. Although I find myself reheating the same cup of coffee 5-8 times in the morning until I realize it is lunchtime, so I pour it out and drink water. Well, the other day, I decided to use my traveling coffee mug, and I had warm coffee into the afternoon. So now I make a travel mug of coffee with my almond milk and honey just the way I like it, I enjoy it during my quiet time and sip on it throughout the day, and it is warm til dinner. AKA Mommy sippy cup lol, It is excellent!
Have Fun! You can turn everything can into a game. At the younger ages we play a lot of scavenger hunts (ask a question, get it correct, get a clue to find the next one), red light, green light ( answer correct= green light, wrong= red light), we play detective math (I will play the inspector gadget theme song, and the kids are detectives trying to find the answers to the problems which we call evidence). Use toys as manipulatives. Be creative, read through the curriculum a week ahead, and plan fun ways to teach in the form of games; this has been a game-changer for us.
Father’s Equipping Children
As a home school father, I have an essential job of being the principal of the school as my wife teaches our children daily. As the principal, I often will check in with my children to see what they have learned in their curriculum as well as ensure that the kids are showing their mother (teacher) respect by being the primary disciplinarian. I also make it a point to make sure to keep things fun with the kids by getting in a good share of playtime each day with them. In addition to these actions, the principal needs to make sure that our school’s primary objective is being met, which is to train our children up in the ways of the Lord to know Him and serve Him
Christian fathers cannot be ignorant of the wiles of the devil, the lusts of the flesh and the draw of the world that our children will encounter. If we are to take our task seriously in equipping our children, we must first equip ourselves for battle. Make no mistake gentlemen, we are in fact in a battle. In order to disciple our children so they can stand against these adversaries, we must ourselves first be a disciple of Christ.
We must be in our bible daily feeding off the word of God. If you are not already doing so, make it a point to meet with the Lord daily to read your Bible. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 Be faithful in this and see how the Lord will bless you and renew your mind. Second, be in prayer for your wife and your children. A healthy prayer life between you and the Lord will provide direction, focus, and you will experience the presence of the Lord. Prayer shows us how dependent we are on God and allows us to build trust in the Lord. Third, be accountable by attending church weekly, getting involved in serving in your church, and plugging into small groups. A men’s bible study is a good place to start. Lastly, I strongly recommend praying with your wife and reading the bible together. God created us to be the leader of our homes and we need His strength to fulfill this role His way. The more we try in our own strength, the more we fail and mess things up. Instead, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
As you begin to fill up with God’s word the results that follow will be knowledge of the scriptures and godly wisdom. Focus on equipping your wife with biblical counsel and insight from what you learn each day from reading scripture. By equipping your wife, you will help her to raise up the children with proper instruction. Second, teach your children God’s word. I recommend going through the Bible with your children once a year. When your children are taught the bible by their father, God’s word becomes that much more real and tangible to them. If your children are younger like mine (4 & 6), utilize visual aids to demonstrate the Bible subject you are discussing. I personally like to illustrate our Bible study time using a dry erase board. Do what works best for you and your kids, but the key is to be a doer in teaching your children.
I love getting organized for school, so this summer, we created a designated workspace for our two kids who are in Kindergarten and first grade. It was a fun project my husband and I did together. We designed it to fit in the corner of our living room since our house is on the smaller side, and we needed to maximize space. Seriously, it was easy and fun to build.
We bought crates from Michaels which we used as the desk legs and they also nicely doubled to provide shelf storage. Then we found 2ft x 6ft tabletop boards at Home Depot, that we used as the desktops and we fastened them on to the crates using metal brackets. Finally, we added a coat of paint, and some then applied some waterproofing coating to the desk surface for durability. Check out Pinterest lots of ideas for DIY desks. We are not professional woodworkers, and this desk isn’t perfect by any means, but it is ideal for what we use it for.
Our kids (ages 6 & 4) enjoy helping around the house, and each child has their own set of chores. Some days the kids get them done and then excitedly come running to tell me that they accomplished with a massive smile because of their achievement. It warms my heart when this happens. Then there are other days when I must tell them to do their chores multiple times, which leads to me being the nagging mom and sometimes a not so pleasant conversation. Recently, my son mentioned he felt defeated when I asked him to do his chores because he had failed not to remember to do them on his own. He took the initiative to suggest that I make him a reminder list and I thought that was a great idea, so that is precisely what we did.
I sat down with the kids, and we talked about the different things that need to be done around the house daily/weekly. The kids were excited to help mom come up with our new chore charts. We made two different charts a daily chart and a weekly chart. I laminated the charts so that we can use dry erase markers on them. (FREE Downloads of these charts available)
I made picture icons for the different chores, laminated them, and cut them out. Then I put Velcro adhesives (available at the dollar store, or tape works great also) on the back of each chore icon, and placed Velcro adhesive on the chart in the chore boxes so that we can change out chores as needed. For the weekly chart, I highlighted in yellow the days that each core needs to be completed.
Each day, I am overjoyed to be able to homeschool my children and my life has become richly blessed by educating my children in a home environment. Not only has God given me the opportunity to homeschool, but he has provided all the resources we need to both spiritually and materially accomplish our mission to educate our children. Yet, our experience in teaching our children through homeschooling would be incomplete without a community to share all our experiences, trials, lessons, joys, pictures, and lots of fun. Although the homeschool experience takes place at home, with most of the time being amongst siblings, the aspect of community fellowship is essential for a robust and healthy homeschool family life for your children, and yes, you too!
I can remember looking back almost four years ago when I first decided I was going to homeschool my children. I had experienced a very powerful sense of fear. This felt much like dread and anxiousness of impending failure. I know now after speaking with many parents who have raised home school children, that this is an all too common emotion that all parents feel as they begin this journey. Even now in my encounters with brand new homeschool moms that are just entering the battlefield, deciding to homeschool their children. I want to encourage each one of you that knowing God’s Word will help you to overcome this fear.
Academy Days Are Here!
It is finally here, time to get together and dive into the amazing world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our first Academy Day is this Wednesday, September, 12th 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Make sure to bring lunch for yourself and your kiddos to eat and play with their friends after class. See you on Wednesday!