Put God First
Read Aloud Together
Go on Walks Together
Fill Your House with Laughter
School Hours & Scheduling
Now, let's move on to the rest of the ingredients in getting off to a good start this year!
Checking Schoolwork & Lesson Plans & "Catching Up"
Check their work every day or at least once a week. Children are wasting their time doing math, grammar, and spelling workbooks if they are doing their work wrong. Practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes permanent. If they keep doing the same type of math problem or grammar skill practice wrong it will cement in their brain incorrectly. Set aside an hour a day or one night a week to check work. When children get things wrong--let them correct it right away, explaining why they got it wrong and how to correct it. Sometimes, we put aside the scheduled math and work on a particular skill that is difficult. We do extra problems and spend lots of time until they "get it." Yes, we are now a week behind in math, but we can catch up later (see next paragraph!); the important thing isn't that they are completing their work, but that they are doing their work correctly and LEARNING!
Schedule "make-up" or "catch-up" weeks in your yearly schedule. I schedule a whole week in the fall and another in the spring for "catch-up." This is because I am a stickler about finishing every book we do and ending the school year on time (I need my summers to plan for next year!). But life happens and "the best laid plans of mice and men..." I plan for the unexpected. Then, if the week arrives and we don't have anything to catch up on, we can play games, go on field trips, bake, watch movies, or go to the beach every day!
If you haven't done it yet, make lesson plans for the whole school year. Let the children have a movie day or send them to a friend's house for the day. Get out everything (books, unit study ideas, workbooks, literature, projects)you want to accomplish for the year. Divide the work into months; then weeks; then days. Schedule two or more weeks for "catch-up." You can always make changes, but if you have a game plan for the entire year, life goes smoother. Also, you won't feel like you're flying by the seat of your pants.
Health & Energy!
Start your day early so that you are not feeling "behind schedule" all day. The only way to get up early and have enough energy for the day is to go to bed early. You can't do it all and you can't burn the candle at both ends. There are seasons in our lives, especially when our children are young, where taking care of our families is 90% of our life. Relax. Before you know it, your little ones will grow up and be graduating, marrying, and giving you grandchildren. Stay focused on homeschooling your children during the day and enjoying your husband in the evening.
Take care of you own and your family's health. Eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of water, stay rested, exercise, and get some fresh air each day. You don't have to eat organic--just choose healthy over sugar. Popcorn is a better snack than a Snicker's bar. Fresh fruit is better than ice cream. Exercise doesn't have to be at a gym--you can go on walks with your children, play freeze tag, or swim together in the neighbor's pool. Try to get outside each day, even if it's a quick walk around the block, weeding the garden, or hanging up clothes. When I exercise I have more energy and am able to control my temper.
Affection & Affirmation!
Lavish your children with affection at all times! Lavish them with praise when they deserve it! Hard work, not just the result of hard work, deserves praise! Praise them for kindness, humility, sharing, finishing their school work, doing their chores, obeying cheerfully, and reading for fun! Notice all the good in your children and give them verbal affirmation. Often, we only address the negative. Instead, give the most attention to the positive. Correct and discipline your children with love and kindness in your voice. Don't lose your temper when you discipline--stay controlled.
Enjoy the Journey!
You can make the choice to be negative or positive. Choose to look at the bright side! (For inspiration read Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter or watch the Disney movies, Pollyanna.) Count your blessings and give God thanks day and night for giving you the privilege of being a mom who gets to stay home and educate her children. You can make the choice to experience the joy that Jesus brings or you can complain about your life, your children, and your homeschooling. Life is more fun when you choose joy!
I am not saying that you shouldn't have friends that you can be honest with, who will pray for you. Share your struggles, pray, and thank the Lord ahead of time for His answers. Find homeschooling moms who will encourage you and give good advice. We all need encouragement and counsel.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. [Sisters], I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV).
Have a Wonderful New Year!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)