Posted in homeschool, Miscellanous how-to, motherhood, parenting

9 ways to jumpstart your homeschool year

Homeschooling in the U.S. has exploded in recent months. According to the United States Census Bureau, by fall of 2020, “11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12)…That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of U.S. households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.”

Such a statistic doesn’t surprise me, as even in my small town, the rate of children being homeschooled has increased dramatically. People have chosen to homeschool for a variety of reasons, including religious reasons, more freedom, and situations regarding the pandemic.

Whatever the reason, homeschooling can be a daunting task. Whether you’re new to it or a veteran, there will be days that are challenging and times when you want to give up.

So how can you successfully jumpstart your homeschool year? Here are 9 ways.

Make sure you have a support system. Find a mentor, join a co-op, and join an online group. If you are married, enlist your spouse’s support. Having an extended family who supports your decision is also helpful.

Take it slow. Give yourself and your children permission to wade through the change in schooling with grace. Too often I hear from parents who attempted to homeschool say that it just didn’t work out for them. When I ask how long they were homeschooling, they typically answer with a length of less than a few months. Give it time.

Focus on what matters. If we get so caught up in finishing each textbook, having our children excel in every subject, or making sure they participate in every possible extra-curricular activity, then we have missed the point.

Be organized (or attempt to be). Notice I didn’t say “be perfectly organized”. In order for your homeschool to function, you will need to have some organization. It helps to have a dedicated cupboard for textbooks, science experiments, art supplies, etc. Because homechooling is so versatile, it can happen in an actual homeschooling room, at the kitchen table, or even outside on a nice summer day.

Expound on your kids’ interests. No child is exactly the same when it comes to interests. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can expound on what your child enjoys. For instance, my oldest daughter loves to write, so I assigned her a “novel in a year” project, which was one of her favorite assignments. She also loved woodworking and built a dresser with her dad (the woodworking teacher!). History was a favorite of hers, so we focused heavily on that subject as well, and graphic arts and an extra emphasis on editing led her to starting her own editing, website-building, and graphic arts business.

My youngest daughter loves science, so collecting bugs, inspecting things beneath the microscope, science experiments, and anything related to science labwork intrigued her. She also loves to fix things and is very mechanical. I used that opportunity to call upon her whenever something broke and turned it into a learning experience. A friend of ours taught her how to quilt, which instilled in her a love for sewing.

Both girls enjoy baking, so making treats for neighbors, youth group, and homeschooling events was something I included on the homeschool syllabus. Both of my girls are athletes, so we spent many an hour riding bikes, joining 5k runs, playing volleyball, badminton, and soccer, going on walks, and hiking in the nearby mountains for P.E. class.

One of the best things about homeschooling is that we can think outside the box and tailor our children’s learning experiences with their interests.

Be creative with teaching techniques. Be open to changing curriculum if one doesn’t work. We changed curriculum many times. (This is why it’s a good idea to find used curriculum for sale, as it can get pricey). Not every child has the same learning style, so passing one curriculum type on to the next child does not always work. An important thing to remember in homeschool is that one size does not fit all.

In addition, one homeschool type will not fit all children’s needs. We personally chose an al a carte approach that includes a variety of textbooks from many different publishers, some online learning from homeschool providers, some co-op classes, and some unschooling techniques as well. Other parents choose to have their children enrolled in homeschool online learning only or one company’s curriculum, such as Abeka, Sonlight, or the Charlotte Mason Method. Still other parents choose strictly the unschooling route.

The key? Choosing what works for your family.

Glean ideas from current and veteran homeschooling families about what worked for them. The nice thing about homeschooling? If one method doesn’t work, there are other methods you can try.

Don’t compare your homeschool, yourself, or your children to others. Just as each parent and child are unique, so is each homeschool. Embrace that.

Breathe.

And most importantly? Give your homeschooling year to the Lord. When we commit our ways to Him, He guides our steps.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

you might be a homeschool mom if (15 clues)

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

the video camera is always on, part 3

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

Posted in devotionals

how to make your plans succeed

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Four things were on the immediate agenda:

It was November and my youngest daughter and I planned to enter a power-walk/run relay to raise money for the local homeless shelter.

In the weeks before Christmas, our family planned to donate time standing outside Walmart ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

In December, I planned on taking a swimming lessons class with my brother to finally learn how to do the freestyle stroke we never learned in the olden days of youth swimming lessons.

After the first of the year, our family planned to go on a quick family vacation, which included a fair amount of hiking and other active activities.

And now on to reality…

The lovely picture my husband recently received from his employer to commemorate his years of service reads: “You can make plans, but the Lord determines your steps ~ Proverbs 16:9.”

I was about to find out just how true that was.

During the week of November 25, I noticed some slight pain in my left ankle, but figured it would pass. I proceeded with my regular exercise program, which included some kickboxing, kettlebells (with squats), and some time on the exercise bike. Did I mention I love fitness?

On the morning of November 27, I was in for a surprise when I woke up and couldn’t walk. My ankle was swollen, disfigured, and painful.

After some time in Urgent Care, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon.

Fast forward to a diagnosis of “acute anterior ankle impingement,” a couple weeks on crutches, and many many hours of ongoing physical therapy. I wasn’t able to stand on my foot for more than a few minutes at a time and was given an unstylish boot to wear.

So much for plans – my plans. The power-walk/run relay, the donation of time standing and ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, and the family vacation would have to wait. (I was still able to somewhat take swimming lessons and that’s a quite humorous story I’ll share in another blog post).

014While my ankle still isn’t fully healed, I continue to make progress under the care of my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. I still limp and have some pain, but the crutches have been relegated to the furthermost corner of the closet and the unstylish boot is on its way there as well.

I look back to November and December and really wished I’d been able to do those things I’d planned. Was I disappointed? Yes, very much so.

But through it all, I learned something really important – something I knew, but couldn’t really digest until now. You see, I can make all the plans I want, but it’s the Lord who truly determines my steps (never more true than when you only have one good foot. 🙂

I learned to surrender everything to the Lord, not just the big things, but the day-to-day, minute-by-minute things, even things I planned to do for His kingdom.

So…how do you make your plans succeed? Give those plans to the Lord. Surrender the big plans, the small plans, and all the plans in between. He knows how it all turns out and Jeremiah 29:11 assures us ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We are told in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Untitled

So I commit my plans to the Lord because more than anything, I want my plans to align with His plans.

Have you ever had to surrender something particularly difficult to the Lord?