Strategize – Every good endeavor starts with a good plan. As homeschoolers it’s natural to think in terms of daily lesson plans, but we should also be considering what our long-term goals are, since they will certainly impact our short-term goals.
When I first took a stab at setting long-term goals for my homeschooling I focused on three areas: the spiritual, the academic, and the social. When you set long-term goals for your homeschool don’t think it has to be a complicated process. I encompassed all my long-term goals on one sheet of paper. Think about the different areas of your child’s life that you will be impacting: their growth and development physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, socially, and academically. What do you want their future to look like? What kind of opportunities do you want them to have? What kind of character qualities do you want them to display?
Once you’ve outlined your long-term goals it will be much easier to define the goals for each school year. Don’t forget to give your child credit for non-academic activities such as life skills, sports, music lessons, etc. in their portfolio or on their transcript (if they’re in high school).
I would also add a reminder that long-term goals are just that. You’re not going to see every change you desire to see in your child in a few weeks or months. Some changes take years. Your children are going to need time to grow up! Don’t put so much pressure on them, and yourself, that you lose focus on those attributes that are of most importance.
Organize – Setting long-term and short-term goals is a good first start to homeschooling success. Next you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your homeschool organized. I’ve homeschooled at the dining room table and I’ve had dedicated school rooms, but either way I always made sure that I had some place to store our homeschool supplies. This would include not only your child’s books, but also pencils, paper, crayons, markers, science supplies and anything else you need to fill out your child’s curriculum.
If space is tight, a dining room hutch or armoire can make a great space for storing supplies. If you’re fortunate enough to have a school room in your house, shelves, plastic boxes and other organizers can keep everything tidy. It will help your mental outlook to have things organized, and it will also help your kids to know where everything goes so they can pick up after themselves.
One more piece of advice concerning organization: make sure you use whatever breaks you might have (summer, Christmas and spring breaks, for example) to plan for the year. Grab your planner and head off to the local coffee shop if you need to in order to have some dedicated time for planning. It will be time well-spent.
Prioritize – In spite of all the strategizing and organizing you do, there will be times when life sends you a curve and you will need to prioritize. Or perhaps your plans were a bit too optimistic in terms of what you could accomplish in each day and you find after a few weeks that you need to make some adjustments. Don’t feel bad – it happens to all of us at some point.
One way to help you deal with the unexpected is to plan to homeschool Monday through Thursday so that Fridays can be used for catching up on work not completed during the week.
Additionally, if you experience a major hurdle, such as a sudden move or a death in the family, it would be wise to consider taking a break, or at least to scale back your schooling to the essentials for a period of time. Again, we all experience these kinds of challenges. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure if you need to take a break during a difficult time. Keep in mind that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.
So there you have it: three essential tips to homeschooling success. Strategize, organize and prioritize. If you have any additional tips, I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments!