Excitement and some anxiety increase as a new school year approaches, so our family follows a few simple tips to increase our joy and make the homeschool year go smoothly.
Start the Day Smiling
We found that beginning our day with smiles and prayer focuses us on what’s truly important. If a child is grumpy, I take them aside, hug them, and remind them, “It’s a new day, so let’s begin it right!” Yes, I also require them to smile . . . and they do! Silly giggles can follow, but it lightens the atmosphere and sets a sweet tone as we kneel to pray. Praying keeps us focused on Who we are serving as we homeschool, causes us to confess our need for help, and motivates us to be thankful.
Remember Your Goal
Ponder why you are homeschooling. My husband and I chose to homeschool so we could teach and nurture our children in God's Word daily. Others homeschool for academic reasons or possibly to include specific subjects or important life skills and character qualities. Several families need the flexible schedule to pursue a specific talent or skill that requires dedication during normal school hours. Whatever your reason(s), have a clear vision of why you are dedicating your time, energy, and money to home educate your children. This vision will guide and encourage you during difficult days.
Being organized will save a lot of time and help to cultivate peace in the home. We designated specific places for each child to keep notebooks, textbooks, reading books, art supplies, and more. We also assigned each child a list of tasks to help keep our home neat and running smoothly. And when schoolwork was done, we had a quick clean up to put items back in place.
Plan Fun Adventures
Keeping the fun in home education is worth the effort. Plan regular activities everyone enjoys at least once a month. Our family visited many national and state parks as well as almost every known field trip in our area. We loved to go hiking to examine leaves, animals, rocks, and flowers.
Unique science experiments, fun art projects, creative music lessons, exciting read-aloud books, playing educational games, and writing lively stories also helped take the drudgery out of the day.
Plan and make a meal together periodically. Creating menus and rotating responsibilities help make this a delightful activity that can make memories. And it puts food on the table while teaching great homemaking skills.
Many homeschool families have a weekly family fun night where they may perform skits, watch a movie, play games, have a scavenger hunt, or do a random act of kindness for a friend or person in need. Whatever your family style is, add some unusual, joyful activities.
Read, read, and read to your children. This one activity is associated with so many academic skills.
As much as possible, keep your homeschool concrete for young children. Use buttons or toothpicks to help them learn simple math problems. Find interesting photos or paintings and have children write stories about them. You can then use the writing to determine their spelling words for the week.
Hug Your Kids
Begin and end each day hugging your children. Smile and call them by a favorite nickname and be sure to tell them you love them, too. Building rapport with your kids makes a pleasant atmosphere and builds a deeper family bond.
Try to take time once a week with each child enjoying a special treat, cup of juice, or tea. Find a few questions to ask to help teach them great conversational skills as well as build deeper bonds.