On Your Mark. Get Set…

Go! We are off on a year of home schooling. Planning makes all the difference in the world in having a successful school year! Here are some questions to consider when you begin this year:

 What are your expectations for your student(s)?

What is your plan to get there?

Do you have a schedule for your school? How do you have textbooks, curriculum, and paperwork organized?

What type of support do you have to help make your school year successful?

When thinking of expectations for your student consider academic goals. Some that come to mind would be learning to read (younger students), writing a book report (middle school student), understanding and doing  mathematical operations before beginning algebra (junior high student), or dissecting specimens for biology (senior high student). List expectations for each subject area.

Don’t forget character traits and habits as part of your goals. Do you have a student who procrastinates, or is messy, or doesn’t complete tasks on time? Write down one area that you’d like to see your student improve in this year. Provide a plan, practice, patience and extreme amounts of encouragement to help them succeed. Once they have succeeded in that area, you can add another habit you’d like him/her to establish. Warning: Don’t overemphasize this, but work diligently on helping and give ginormous amounts of praise when you see progress. 🙂

Planning is a key to success in your homeschool. It doesn’t need to be a lesson plan book, but creating a system that will keep you on track will help you achieve the goals you establish for your school year. Besides lesson plan books you could create a journal of goals and ideas or you can have a spreadsheet. Pick something that fits your personality and teaching style.

Keep a master schedule for your school day. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can be relaxed, but the downfall can also be the same.  Here are some ideas to consider: What time will you start school? What time will you eat lunch? What time do you plan on finishing school? When my children were in elementary school we began very early because they were early risers. The rule was to be dressed, beds made, and breakfast eaten by the time we began. I didn’t want any excuses to be in the refrigerator or getting up from the table to do other non-school related activities once our school day began. As they got older and wanted to sleep in, I adjusted our time to start later. (8:30 or 9:00)

Do you have other outside activities throughout the week? Keeping a calendar of those activities helps you to say yes or no to extra things you might want to do. School is the priority, so be sure not to add a lot of extras that will keep you running during the week. I noticed that I was hurrying my boys through their schoolwork so we could go to co-op, sports activities, friends’ houses, and church programs. Life became harried and stressful for all of us. I had to learn that less is more. I had to stop and consider what was best for our school day before “adding one more thing.” A good piece of advice I have received is what do I drop if I add another activity? I am still working on that one!

Organizing all of your curriculum and paperwork will help you stay focused and not feeling overwhelmed. If you could see my kitchen table and school desk right now you’d say, “Sister, take your own advice!” I am actually going to spend part of today organizing my “stuff”  because I am feeling out of sorts with the amount of things I have pulled out to teach my junior high classes and tutoring.

Clutter can make me feel that I am out of control. Having a place for everything saves time and creates a much more peaceful environment. Find somewhere to store your things first and then find a place that is accessible to your children so they can put their books and papers away. Give them the responsibility of putting their school books and papers in their place (within reason, of course). Even little ones can have a box to put away their toys so that you aren’t cleaning up after everyone.  After all, our goal is for them to be independent.

Some ideas to help with organizing is to have plastic bins called workboxes. Each child has their own labeled box with their textbooks, binders and supplies. Each night you put their work for the next day in there and each day they get it out/ return items to their workbox. Create a separate place for papers to be graded if you assign independent work. You can file papers after you have graded and discussed any problems with the work your child may have missed. A hanging folder system works nicely with each folder either labeled according to subject or month so that when you have a portfolio review next spring it is as simple as gathering the folders together and putting them in a box/bag for your appointment.

What kind of support do you have with homeschooling? Homeschooling can be hard. There, I said it! I know because I homeschooled my boys through their compulsory years of education and have the t-shirt to prove  it. (Not really the t-shirt.) What kind of support do you have for the days where the little yellow school bus looks enticing? Find a support group or a person who will listen and encourage you with the decision you made to homeschool. It really makes all the difference when you can call and talk about school issues. If you don’t know anyone that is in your area, do an internet search for state homeschool organizations and contact them. Chances are there is someone close by who is homeschooling. You can email me and I’ll be glad to send you a note of encouragement!

Have a great week!


3 thoughts on “On Your Mark. Get Set…

  1. Lisa, This post was very helpful to me and needed to be read as I am looking at all of their school books in a disarray on our dining room table that needs organized by morning. I actually started using workboxes this year and it really seems to be helpful. They can see “the end” and I can organize what needs to be accomplished for the day. I love your advice for what can we drop before you add something else. Yes, I need to work on that! Thanks for sharing!


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