Psst. I’m going to let you in on a secret. There are times and seasons when I don’t like our homeschool. Maybe we’re getting things checked off and the kids are learning, but it’s far from satisfying—and very, very far from beautiful. We’re muddling through, surviving. But I sure don’t love our homeschool.
Honestly, that was me this last fall. We had moments: fun projects, glimmers of happy learning. But overall, I survived the fall, and hated it. So this December, during our month off, I spent a lot of time rethinking everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING!
Our fall was a perfect storm of factors. For one, my whole curriculum plan for one child seemed to crash and burn on week 2 of our homeschool year. I didn’t have the time to make those kinds of drastic changes in a thoughtful way. So, I threw together a Plan B and muddled through. Then, my homeschool app that I’ve used FOR YEARS to plan my homeschool didn’t update with the latest Apple updates. Yep, lost the whole thing at the start of the year and scrambled to find a new method. Again, I threw together a solution, but not one I loved. Lastly, our whole schedule turned on its head this year. Days we’d had off were now filled; days that I’d dedicated for one-on-one homeschooling were now video school days so that I could go to different meetings and Bible studies. We managed to get through the term, but I noticed that I’d lost a lot of things that brought enjoyment and meaning to our homeschool. I had a lot I wanted to change.
So, what do you do when you don’t love your homeschool? Where do you start? What do you change? Here’s what I’ve spent the last month doing.
What to do when you don’t love your homeschool?
Remember Your Vision
I remembered back to the last time I loved homeschooling. What was I reading? What was I thinking? What brought joy and satisfaction? I pulled out those books and tried to rethink those first thoughts again. I went back to that original vision, that original purpose. For me, a lot of that began with learning about Charlotte Mason and her approach to learning. I’m far from hard-core Charlotte Mason, but I love to blend those ideas into our classical homeschool. Charlotte reminds me of my overall goals: to educate my whole child (not just the mind), to inspire with ideas (not just cram with facts), to create an atmosphere (of love and character and discipleship).
Think back to a time when you loved your homeschool. What was it you loved? Was it more intentional and less distracted by work projects or social media? Was it more spontaneous and filled with outdoor exploration? Was it more character-focused and discipleship-driven? Get back to that happy place.
What if you have never loved your homeschool? Start with a brainstorm or vision board. Collect pins on a special “homeschool vision board” on pinterest, or get a poster board and cut out magazine pictures. Write down all the ideas that come to mind. What do you envision when you think about your homeschool? Know where you want to go before you make a plan to get there.
Find your focus
I don’t know about you, but I need more than a goal; I need a single word that helps me remember that goal. Something I can whisper under my breath in the hard moments and get the reeling chaos back in focus. That word, for me, was “discipleship.” I took a class on how to study the Bible this last fall, and one of the exercises was a form of diagramming the verse, looking at subjects and verbs and parallel structures. I remember tearing up in class thinking, “This is why I’m determined to teach reading and comprehension and some level of grammar to my dyslexic child. This is why it’s important to me.” Not so that she can ace an achievement test, but that she could be a better disciple; I want her to have all the tools she needs to study the Bible deeply. When I sat down and remembered my vision for our homeschool, this one word kept coming back to me. I wanted to educate my whole child, not just mind and academics; I wanted more discipleship.
What is that one thing for you? What is that one thing that, at the end of the year, if you only did this one thing well you would still call the year a huge success? Could you sum it up in one word? That one thing is your focus, and it will make a world of difference in the daily grind of homeschooling.
Make a Plan
Or in my case, make a planner. Seriously. I set down and created my own planner. I was tired of making things work, of adapting things to fit how I wanted to plan. So I sat down over Christmas break and made my own planner. I filled it with the Charlotte Mason quotations and beautiful graphics that inspired me. (And I’m sharing it with you for free! Scroll down for more details.)
I plan with a weekly overview. I don’t like to see my week split up by days because I need the flexibility to move things around. I plan the things I hope to get done with in the week. If we get it done, I check it off. If we didn’t get it done, I put an arrow through the box and move it to the following week. If I decide to skip it entirely, I put an x through the box. For certain, subjects that I do want done on certain days (specifically when I’m working with my child), I write an initial for the day of the week I hope to do it (M for Monday, W for Wednesday, R for Thursday, etc.) When it’s done, I circle the initial.
I also found a new app that I’ve been trying out with my kids’ assignments: Homeschool Teacher app. I put their chores and their school assignments into the app, but I keep most of the assignments generic and schedule them to repeat each week. For instance, I put “do a math lesson,” or “read for 30 min.” instead of “Do lesson 65.” If I need to go in and specify what book they are reading in, I can always go back in and make changes to that particular day, but I don’t have to plan their whole week out all the time. It’s “once and done.” Then, my kids have the companion app Homeschool Student on their tablets and ipads; they can login and check off their assignments. Then, I’m notified in my app and approve that the work was done. So far, so good.
I’m not expecting perfection. I know we are still going to have chaos and bad days and failed plans. But even with the imperfection, there can still be satisfaction. You can still love your homeschool, when it’s loud and messy and chaotic. You can still love your homeschool, even when it’s far less than perfect.
84 pages of homeschool planning downloads for an A5 sized planner, includes:
weekly overview, daily agenda, grading log, reading log, field trip log, nature study log and journal page, and notes
(FREE for a limited time)