Our family is starting its eighth year of homeschooling. We have educated through illness, death of family members, twin pregnancy, and more. Homeschooling is important to us as a family, so we make it work. Often, making it work means re-evaluating everything. Starting at the beginning again. What is most important?
This year is no different. This year brings with it new challenges, my own health concerns, educational testing for our oldest (who has autism and ADHD), twins starting kindergarten, and a myriad of other adventures.
I made a list of the most important things (for our family) to consider when I am planning this homeschool year. I use this as a guide for what we allow to be part of our day. Keep in mind that your list may look very different.
1) Decide what is most important for our family to focus on.
The most important thing for our family is our Bible time, focusing on missions, and serving others.
There are many resources that you could use to teach your children during the family bible time, but these are ones we have chosen for our family, for this year.
- a mission or ministry in your local church
- bloggers who are missionaries
- ministries that work with bloggers
If you need ideas for serving others, you can check out my Pinterest board – Giving Back.
2) Learn what is legally required.
What are the minimum legal requirements in your area?
3) How much time do we really have?
Let’s face it, we all have been dreams and high hopes for our homeschools. When I make my lists of curricula wants/desires, it is always more than I could ever accomplish in any given year. It is important for me to factor in other responsibilities as well.
Consider all of the following:
- babies and toddlers
- work schedules
- family activities
- church activities
- therapies (speech, OT, etc)
- music lessons
- health of family members
- caring for elderly or sick parents
- anything else?
I am not saying any of these things are more important than our academics, but they need to be considered when we are looking at different materials to use with our family. Some materials require more one on one time with mom or more time to complete. Having a list of everything that I need to fit into each and every day helps me to plan wisely (and avoid over planning, if possible).
4) What subjects are most important to each of our children?
It is really important to me that we allow our children to pursue their own interests and weave them into our homeschool day. When I asked our three oldest what they wanted to study this year, I was not surprised by their answers.
- Our oldest (Elisha, 13) is interested in architecture, skyscrapers, bridges, automobiles, geography, and demographics (among other things).
- Our next oldest (Moses, 12) is interested in chemistry, biology, physics, math, and art.
- Our middle child (Malachi, 10) is interested in Lego and anything military related.
- I have yet to figure out the twins (entering kindergarten this year).
One of the reasons we homeschool is to allow the kids time to follow their dreams and find their skills and talents, so it is important that we make time for these subjects.
5) Evaluate individual strengths and weaknesses.
Our children are all unique. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities, and those things need to be considered when planning our homeschool.
These are just some of the things I take into consideration when planning our learning times:
- which kids have diagnosed or undiagnosed difficulties (Autism, ADHD, etc)
- the child who needs extra reading support
- the children who are still learning to work independently
- the children who struggle putting pen to paper
- who needs speech therapy
- sensory diets for all
- heavy work for all
- visual schedules
- which children work well in small groups
6) Keep in mind the learning styles that you have in your home
We have a large family and each child learns differently. Considering these different learning styles while planning your homeschool has the potential to significantly reduce stress and increase productivity.
7) Hands On Learning
We use hands on learning to help us get through homeschool days. I do this more in the younger years, but even the older kids have been known to get a little more excited about difficult (or boring) subjects if I can spice them up a little bit.
- homemade games (any subject)
- store bought games (any subject)
- repurposed games (any subject)
- art (can be weaved in to any subject)
- cooking (chemistry, math)
- gardening (biology, math)
- home ec (life skills)
- lapbooks (any subject)
- notebooking (any subject)
- creating books (any subject)
The possibilities are endless.
8) Use Technology
Technology can be an amazing addition to your homeschool experience. It is not something to be feared, but rather utilized and controlled (think boundaries here). There are so many different ways that you can use technology in your homeschool.
Here is just a short list of ideas:
- tablets (ebooks, educational games)
- computers (research)
- dvd’s (languages)
- cd’s (languages)
- Netflix (history, literature)
- video (any subject)
- camera (any subject)
- animation (any subject)
- blogging (any subject)
Once you get thinking outside the box, it is easier to see how everything has some kind of educational potential. If your kids already enjoy using technology, consider how you can responsibly make it part of your day.
Reading is one of the best ways to simplify your homeschool. Your children can learn a lot by hearing you read to them and reading to themselves.
- physical books
- digital books
- audio books
- CBD Reader App
- Read To My Child
- Just Read Aloud Books
- Read To Me
- Storyline Online
- Beatrix Potter
- Children’s Storybooks Online
- Aesop’s Fables
- International Children’s Digital Library
- Between The Lions
- Signed Stories
10) Take Field Trips
Local Field Trips
Make a list of all the places that you can visit in your neighborhood. You can break it down into two lists (free and paid) if you want or need to.
- Recreation Centres
Virtual Field Trips
Sometimes it is not possible to go out on field trips due to children with special needs, finances, or a myriad of other reasons, but that does not mean that your family needs to miss out on some exciting adventures. Virtual Field Trips can be almost exciting as the real thing. I have created a Virtual Field Trips Pinterest Board that you might enjoy.
I hope all of these ideas help you to simplify your homeschool and have more fun at the same time.