Homeschooling ABC’s: P, Q, and R

Wood Engraved Alphabet Blocks Q P R

Have you thought lately about why you’re homeschooling?  Do you struggle with finding the time to “do it all” as a homeschooler?  Could you use some rest and relaxation?  If so, this post will help you to better focus and feel more encouraged whether you’re a new homeschooler or a veteran of many years.  Take a few moments for some “continuing education” of your own.  And let me know what you think when you’re finished reading!

P is for Purpose: When it comes to persevering as a homeschooler, knowing your purpose – or why you’re homeschooling – is crucial.  I published a post some time back titled “Got Goals?”  In that post I described how, many years ago, I sat down and wrote out a list of long-term goals that I had for my children, along with ideas for how I might achieve those goals, at least in part through homeschooling.

Those goals could also be considered my “purpose” or my “mission statement” of homeschooling.  They not only gave me direction, but I have also used them as a yardstick to determine whether I was on the right track.

If you’ve never written down your goals for your children, or your homeschooling “mission statement,” I would strongly encourage you to do so.  I believe that our Creator has built into us a need for a sense of purpose in life.  As homeschoolers, other than honoring our Creator, we have no higher purpose than raising these children God has given us.

Moreover, understanding and quantifying our purpose as homeschoolers can serve to help us mightily when we face adversity in life, as we most surely will.  We can maintain our commitment to homeschooling when we know why we are doing it.

So if you haven’t already, I encourage you to take some quiet moments and reflect on your homeschooling purpose, and what your goals are for your children.  You might use my “Got Goals?” post as a starting point.  Either way, putting aside the time to state, in writing, what your purpose is for homeschooling your children will be something that will bear fruit, especially as you look back in years to come and see how much you have accomplished towards fulfilling that purpose!

Q is for Quality over Quantity: When I’m contacted by my readers for personalized help, the requests often fall into a couple of general categories.  It would be difficult to say which question comes up the most often, but it is probably, “I’m overwhelmed!  What do I do?!”

I’m also often asked about choosing curriculum, and I’m actually working on an e-book on that topic that I hope to have published soon…I’ll let you know when it comes out!

In any case, when I get contacted by a reader who feels overwhelmed I will start by asking some questions such as: How many children do you have?  What are their ages?  How many are being homeschooled?  What are your main concerns?

Invariably I find that these moms are simply trying to do too much.

For instance, if you’re just starting out homeschooling and you have a 7-year old, a 5-year old, a 3-year old and a 1-year old, do you really need to be concerned about “homeschooling” the two little ones?  I’d say no.

Additionally, you don’t need to be trying to tackle six subjects a day with a 7-year old and a 5-year old.

I understand every state has different regulations concerning how many subjects you have to teach, as well as how many hours a day and how many days a year you are required to homeschool, but I would suggest that even if you, unfortunately, live in a state with tighter regs, there are ways to homeschool that satisfy the law without spending several hours a day poring over textbooks with your child.

Consider approaches such as unit studies and multi-level teaching.  Talk to homeschooling veterans in your local support group to learn how to satisfy state law while still allowing you the flexibility to homeschool in a way that fits your family and your lifestyle.

As many of you know, I’ve been homeschooling for over two decades, and I have four children ranging in age from 29 to 11.  I also have a “Type A” perfectionistic personality, but I learned a long time ago that if I didn’t learn to become a more relaxed homeschooler, I was going to drive myself and my kids crazy.

In light of that, I made adjustments.  For instance, I don’t teach every subject every year.  This year I’m skipping geography with my 11-year old.  Last year we did hardly any science.

In other words: I choose quality over quantity.  I’d rather enjoy delving deeply into a subject with my kids, than glossing over several – or driving myself crazy trying to do everything and doing not much of it well.

This is the message I try to convey to readers who are overwhelmed.  Relax.  Chill out.

Put the books away one day a week and start making fun field trips an integral part of your homeschool.  Cut back on the number of subjects you’re teaching.

Another approach would be to cycle through the subjects you’re teaching.  For instance, spend 12 weeks teaching science and then 12 weeks teaching history.

Where you can, begin to have your kids work independently, particularly as they start to hit those “middle school” years.

And by all means, if you’re teaching the early grades, particularly kindergarten through third grade, focus on the fundamentals (reading, writing, and math) and let the rest of your curriculum revolve around fun projects that don’t require a lot of time and energy on your part to accomplish.

When it comes to successful homeschooling, I believe quality trumps quantity every time!

R is for Restoration:  Recently I actually wrote a note to myself that I need to do more things that are restorative to my soul.

As homeschool moms it’s difficult to find time for activities that restore our souls, but it’s important.

What do I mean when I talk about restorative activities?  Here are some ideas:

  • Spending time outdoors – Due to battling health issues, I’ve spent no time outdoors this summer, and I miss it.  I miss the warmth of the sun on my skin. I miss breathing the fresh air.  I miss gardening.  There’s a reason God put Adam and Eve in a garden – spending time enjoying and working in the natural world is extremely restorative.
  • Reading for fun – I’m a reader, but most of the time I’m reading non-fiction, i.e. self-improvement or informational type of books.  Normally in the summer I like to read a book or two just for fun.  It may sound strange, but my favorite “reading for fun” books are crime thrillers.  A few months ago a Twitter connection recommended Michael Connelly, a mystery writer whom I’d never heard of.  I’ve got one of his books on my Amazon Wish List.  I think it’s about time I just buy the thing and enjoy some good fiction for a change.
  • Treat yourself – Spend the time and money to go to a professional stylist and get your hair highlighted.  It’s amazing the boost making ourselves “pretty” can be.  Or if mani-pedi’s are more your thing, schedule one!  Perhaps, like me, your aching body could use a massage.  Doing something that restores your body will restore your soul as well.  And to quote an old ad campaign, “You’re worth it!”

What are some things you do to feel restored amidst the challenges of being a homeschooling parent?  I’d love it if you’d share your tips!

  • HomeschoolBeginner

    Can you use unit studies for High school and how do you make up tests for that?

    • I don’t see any reason you can’t use unit studies for high school. When I’ve used my own curriculum in high school (whether unit studies, reading lists, etc.) I usually have my kids write essays and that’s what I grade them on. So that’s an option you might consider. You could even give them a test that calls for short-essay questions on the topic. Since these are often used in college, it’s a good way to prep your kids for college too. If you have any more questions about this, you can e-mail me at: anne@homeschooling911.com

      • HomeschoolBeginner

        Thank You very much! I will look into that.