Tips for Less Stress and More Fun While Homeschooling Little Ones
1. Pray without ceasing!: Seriously though, before homeschooling, this didn’t come as naturally to me as it does now. As a homeschool mom, I always pray, starting early in the morning before the kids wake up; I pray to ask for God’s wisdom and direction for the day. We open our school with prayer, and each takes turns to thank God for the opportunity to homeschool and learn about Him daily. 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 teach 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.
2. 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 thank my God-fearing husband for pointing this out to me. Before committing to anything, I am learning to pray about it and 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.
3. 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 see those as teachable, 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.
4. Do not be held captive to your curriculum: Use it 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 backyard — order books on seeds, gardening, trees, etc., from the library. Child-led learning is the best because they are engaged and want to learn more.
5. 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, and celery and divide them into snack sizes in zip-lock bags or Tupperware.
6. Peaceful Library Trip: I think we must teach our children library etiquette. It’s not a playground but 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 (ages 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 checkout counter. YES! 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 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.
7. Ordering groceries online: Such a time saver and a stress relief. It is important to take the kids to the store and teach them how a grocery store operates, how to act in a store, and where to find what you need. My favorite is showing them the fruits and vegetables God has created for us. Although the convenience, stress-free, and time I save with online grocery shopping is a blessing.
8. 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 to be 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. When the kids leave for break, I let them know I am setting the timer on the stove, so when they hear it ring, and they need to please come out ready to learn. I don’t know why this works better than my calling them to come, but it does, and they love it, so we do it.
9. Forever Warm Coffee: I love my coffee. Although I reheat the same cup of coffee 5-8 times in the morning until I realize it is lunchtime, I pour it out and drink water. The other day, I decided to use my traveling coffee mug and had warm coffee in the afternoon. Now I make a travel mug of coffee with my almond milk and honey just as I like it, I enjoy it during my quiet time and sip on it throughout the day, and it is warm until dinner. AKA Mommy sippy cup, lol, It is excellent!
10. Have Fun! You can turn everything can into a game. At 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.