Monday, September 7, 2009

Succeeding at Home Schooling

If you are new to homeschooling, I want to congratulate you on taking up this awesome and often terrifying endeavor. Too many times, new home educators jump in with both feet, tons of curriculum, and a wrong view of what schooling at home should look like. It isn't long before you look longingly as the yellow bus passes your house each morning.

I know whereof I speak. I did the same thing until I took a burnout detour five years into our home school journey. Here are a few tips I shared recently with the Above Rubies email group which may help you get a better grip and stay in it for the long haul:

To succeed in home schooling, it is very important that you do five things:

#1. Pray for wisdom daily, all throughout the day, and pray with your children
#2. Get Dad involved in discipline issues when you just can't get the kids to obey
#3. Discipline yourself to be organized in home and school management
#4. Train your children to work as team members in sharing the housework load
#5. Get out of the institutional mindset of education

Giving your children a certain time to have things done may help the dawdlers. Set an alarm for them and see how fast they can get it done. Ring a bell when it's five minutes before breakfast is served. If they don't come to breakfast until everyone else is finished, then they can go hungry until lunch. If nothing else works and you discern that it really is a matter of rebelling against time limits, then it's time to administer the rod as part of their discipline. (If you don't use the rod, then you'll just have to put up with it.) If they won't obey you no matter what you do, then bring them before their father for him to deal with.

There are many websites and resources available today for managing the home. I just read one last night with many printable forms for building a home management binder: I also have some helpful advice on my blog under the Homekeeping links:

The house work is not your sole responsibility. The family should work as a team. Have a chore chart or other way of keeping track of who is responsible for what and give out reward stickers for completing tasks on time. Switch chores once in awhile to make sure everyone learns to do each job well. Show them how to do it, stay with them while they do it, have them do it without you, then follow up to make sure they do it correctly. If they don't do it correctly, have them do it again. Repeat these steps until the child has learned to do the job without your inspection. This may take a long time with some children, so be patient. It will be worth it in the long run. has a general list of what chores children are capable of at what ages:

As others have contributed, it's very important to undo your thinking about having separate classes for each grade level. You cannot operate your home school like a public school. Institutions have things set up the way they do in order to teach many children at once. A home school should operate more like a one-room school house. You might teach one child while the other plays with learning toys or does seat work or household chores. Keep them busy so they don't get bored. Phonics, math, and hand writing are taught separately and one-on-one, but science, history, and literature may be taught in a group setting. Do mind intensive work in the morning (Bible memory work, phonics, math, spelling, reading) and less stressful learning in the afternoon (Bible study, science, health, history, literature, art, music). You might think about sitting on the couch together to read about history or do some science outdoors. Take one day a month to go to the museum, the park, or a historical site of interest in your area. I encourage you to explore the public library at least twice a month as well. Think outside the institutional box when educating your children at home, and it will be much more enjoyable for all of you. You might wish to explore my posts regarding home schooling, also, at

Most of all, don't be so uptight about your home or your school. The house will never be perfect with everyone home. There will be few days when everything will get done perfectly in your school either. Relax and enjoy your children while they are small. There will come a time when you won't all fit on the couch together. Savor these days; they will soon fly away, and you'll wonder what happened to your babies.

May the Lord bless you dear ladies for keeping your children at home. Never give up. You can do this. God will help you.

You are in my prayers.