Written by contributor Hillary Boucher
The last few months flew by and we’ve had a lot of fun homeschooling. With our oldest children being eight and five it feels like we’ve come into our own as homeschoolers. Since we’ve never done this before we are continuously feeling things out, learning ourselves and always ready to celebrate when we find comfortable pockets of happy learning and living together.
Looking back I see a few things that contributed to finding our homeschooling rhythm these past few months.
Organize, organize, organize!
I’m not an inherently organized person. But years as a mom have taken their toll and I’m happy to report I’ve learned how to be pretty organized. Everything flows much smoother when I’m not only on top of things, but ahead of the game. This past year of homeschooling has been our best and I definitely think it’s due to the fact that we’re better organized for it.
For general, whole life organizing (which definitely helps free up time and head space for homeschooling) I am a big fan of David Allen’s system, Getting Things Done. And even better yet, I came across this system from The Power of Moms which adapts David Allen’s system for moms. It’s awesome.*
When organizing specifically for homeschooling we do two things. First, while we’re creating our yearly IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) required by New York State, we take the opportunity to map out themes, ideas and goals in Cozi.
We love how both my husband and I can login individually and use the calendar to map out programs, general themes and set up reminders for specific activities. There’s even a handy app that helps make all our info accessible for both of us.
Track your progress
We keep this really simple — a small moleskin notebook that stays in the homeschool cubby with any current materials we’re working with. We date the entry and add what’s been worked on.
1) Practiced piano 15 minutes
-Ode to Joy
2) McRuffy Language Arts lesson 15 & 16
3) Life of Fred: Apples Lesson 5 & 6 (nailed counting by 5’s!)
4) Set off the paper mache volcano (pictures on Cozi)
This is especially important to us because my husband and I share the responsibility of homeschooling. I love being able to sit down and see that my son has worked on lesson 16 with dad and I can pick up where they left off. Sometimes we include notes or certain accomplishments.
Don’t overbook (or schedule plenty of time to be home)
Two years ago we welcomed a new baby in to the family and we were really careful *not* to overbook. That was a mistake because we ended up with a very bored six-year-old. He was under-stimulated that year and often turned to instigating trouble and acting out.
Then we swung in the other direction and signed him up for too much. Every day we were driving him somewhere and much of our day was spent packing lunches, getting him ready and driving.
Now we shoot for *just* right. We try to have two days a week where he doesn’t need to be anywhere. He really looks forward to his programs and classes, but we also appreciate and take advantage of the time at home.
Looking forward to 2013
We’re really looking forward to 2013. My husband is home full time with the kids during the winter and we have more dedicated time to spend on focused learning and following through with projects and interests.
Now that we’ve settled into homeschooling and found a rhythm that works for us I’d like to explore more project-based homeschooling and expand on my children’s interests and curiosities.
Cheers to 2013!
* I am not affiliated with any of the programs or platforms mentioned. They are just tools I’ve found helpful for organizing and homeschooling.
What goals do you have for homeschooling for in 2013?