Things We Learned From Homeschooling Last Year
As parents, we are constantly learning and growing, just like our children. Each homeschool year, my family experiences a number of highs and lows, and in the process, we learn new things. Looking back at last year, there are a lot of takeaways that we can carry with us into the new year.
Below are just some of the things we learned this past year.
- We learned that a set television schedule helps keep everyone focused and reduces distractions. Growing up, my parents let me watch way too much television. I was glued to the couch every chance I got. As a parent, I knew I didn’t want that for my children. That’s why we have a set schedule for them to watch their favorite shows. Not only does this keep them focused during the day, but we’ve also noticed that it has improved their performance when we turned it into a reward for good work (and behavior).
- We learned that giving our students a blank transcript was extremely motivating. Knowing that their grades were a result of the work that they put in encouraged them to do their best and take control of their education.
- We learned that sometimes no phones should be allowed. A few minutes of scrolling and surfing the internet here and there adds up very fast. And at the end of the day, all it does is take time away from schoolwork and distract our kiddos from the task at hand.
- We learned that using educational technology can help drive better results. These days, children are so computer savvy. It’s almost like they are born knowing how to use a tablet, cell phone and computer. If you haven’t considered using technology as a learning tool, I think it’s definitely worth a shot.
- We learned that our children had more success and higher love of learning with things they were passionate about. Seems like a no brainer, but we had always thought that we needed to stick with what was in our lesson plans. Not the case! Every now and then, we let our kiddos pick a topic that interests them and let them research and learn everything they can about it.
- We learned the importance of educating our children about finances. This is one thing we wished we would’ve done sooner. This year, we made it a point to teach all our kiddos about the importance of spending wisely, saving money, and helping those less fortunate. They all earn money and keep track of what they do with it. I was surprised at how much they actually enjoy creating and sticking with their budget.
- We learned that sometimes the same curriculum doesn’t work ALL the time. Don’t be afraid to switch things up in your curriculum if you notice that your kiddos aren’t as engaged as they once used to be or if they begin to dread doing their work. Remember, children grow and mature, and their tastes change, and your homeschool curriculum should meet their needs and match their learning style.
- We learned that “keeping the kids busy” or “doing more” sometimes did more harm than good. While we want the best education possible for our children, in order to allow them to have the brightest future, we need to remember that kids need to be kids. It’s all about quality versus quantity. It’s important to let children learn by playing. Let them enjoy nature and the world around them, in doing so, they’ll discover that learning can happen anywhere.
- We learned about the power of brainstorming sessions. Whether it’s to plan a trip, our homeschool year, or a big science project, getting the whole family involved has helped us learn about each other, work better together and even teach the kids about cooperation and compromise.
- We learned that procrastination is our worst enemy (and that of our children). A few years ago, I was known for procrastinating. Once I realized how much my kiddos looked up to me and emulated my behavior, I did everything in my power to change that bad habit. Although, most of my children are pretty proactive, my wife and I always try to stress the importance of working hard and not putting things off until later.
- We learned that expensive curricula isn’t always better. Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way with a few frustrated kiddos and several hundred dollars later. Paying more money for your child’s education is not always going to guarantee success or happiness. Do your homework: read reviews from other parents, sign up for a free trial, and get your child involved in the process. In the end, you’ll end up saving yourself the stress and money.
- We learned how to navigate through homeschool burnout and low energy days, and come out on top. First, it’s important to accept the fact that there will be days that things will not go well, but you have to take the good with the bad. The key is to know what to do when homeschool burnout sets in. It’s ok to take a step back and give everyone a break. Remember, you’re homeschooling on your schedule, and everyone’s sanity and well-being should be your first priority.
- We learned that picking the right extracurricular activities demonstrated our child’s qualities better than having them in a bunch that didn’t. Is it me or do parents sometimes overwhelm their children with too many extracurriculars? While I do think it’s important for kids to learn new skills and explore their interests, overscheduling them will only hurt them in the long run. Try one or two activities at a time and give your child the opportunity to discover what they like and don’t like. Remember, let them enjoy their childhood and just be kids!
Every year as a homeschooler is a new adventure, and every day is a new opportunity to learn. Although we’ve had a few challenges this year, like any other family would, we’ve also grown and gotten closer. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us.
From one homeschooling family to another, we wish you a happy and successful new year!
– Robert, homeschooling dad to 4 kiddos