Our heart goes out to all of our parents out there. What a challenging time to navigate online school, in-person school, a mixture of online and in-person school, or could-go-online-at-any-time school.
At our Homeschool Q&A Panel last month, a few of our homeschooling experts shared great tips, fresh ideas, and encouragement with a community of other parents navigating some new schooling options.
For those of you who suddenly find yourself trying to homeschool your kiddos, we want to share those tips from two amazing moms who’ve been at this for a while.
“We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all His idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now.”
2 Timothy 1:8-9 MSG
4 HOMESCHOOLING TIPS FROM ZUYIN GOVEA
I don’t know what your story is, or how you got here, but somehow you took the leap and here you are, home educating those precious babes of yours. Although the circumstance which led you here may look different than the homeschooler next door, the point is that you answered the call.
Yes, the call!
Because this is a divine invitation that will yield fruit beyond what you can imagine. But, it takes one magical ingredient. Okay, maybe not magical, but it sure feels that way sometimes.
It will take faith. You’ve embarked on a journey that will leave you scratching your head at times and wondering “what in the world was I thinking?” “How could I have ever thought I could do this?” “I’m not cut out for this like those other homeschoolers are!”
And the truth is, you’re not! You are not enough…in and of yourself. BUT, your Father in heaven, who loves you deeper than you know, who has wonderful things in store for you, who has called you to walk on deep dark waters, HE IS ABLE and IN HIM you are ENOUGH.
I share these things with you because I’ve been there. I still find myself there many times- at the end of myself, at the place where I’ve begun to rely more on my abilities and strengths than on His grace and power. I share these things because I have also made (and still make!) a plethora of mistakes, and if someone can take these bumps and bruises and benefit from them, then it will all be that much more worth it! That leads me to…
TIP #1: Seek Him First
This adventure requires something beyond what we are able to accomplish in and of our own power. Make it a priority in your day to come to Him. Get in His word Sweet One. Soak it all up day by day. You’ll be thankful you did later on in the day- trust me. And when you’re done drinking your coffee or tea and seeping in His Word, then pray.
When in doubt, pray. When you are sure, pray. When you are weak, pray. When you are happy, pray. Just PRAY. Ask the Lord what He would have you do that day. Ask Him to be your homeschool’s teacher and coordinator! He won’t steer you wrong.
TIP #2: Observe, Investigate, Really Get to Know Your Kids
Children are constantly changing. They are growing and learning by the second, and so do their interests, passions, and what delights them. Be a student of your child!
Hopefully this will save you some of the headaches I had to endure. I tried out things I wouldn’t have, had I just stopped and accepted my child for who he/she really was or where they were at and not my ‘idea’ of them. Find out what lights him up! What makes her eyes twinkle with joy? Then, love them unconditionally and singularly, embracing who they are and who God made them to be!
TIP #3: Less Truly is More
There’s a lot of stuff out there! A lot of good stuff! But, what that small Sweet One needs MOST, is YOU. There’s no curriculum, extra-curricular activity, field trip, experience, etc… that will surpass just You. Start simply. Snuggle up on that couch with your babes and enjoy a good book together. Read, read, read. When there’s tension- read aloud. When it’s been a bust of a day- read aloud.
Create the kind of atmosphere that you’d like. Light some candles, turn on the essential oil diffuser, play some Classical or instrumental music in the background, have a 2 minute dance party. Make your home warm, cozy, and inviting. You’re creating a safe place, a haven, that will nestle you all in and invite you to learn together. Find the homeschool style that fits your family. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschool families. Your family is unique and what will work for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Focus on the HEART of your family and what makes your family unique.
TIP #4: Be Intentional and Make Time for the Little Things
Make time to wonder! Children are born with an innate curiosity. Have you ever stopped to notice how they marvel at the little things? I love how my six year old daughter will call me over to watch the bugs with her. Her awe-filled face says it all! Do you stop and stand in awe of God’s world and all the beautiful things He’s made? Make time to be intentional about standing in awe.
Stop to wonder at what they wonder at. Make time for the simple pleasures of baking together, taking leisurely walk, a hike, teaching them to cook, cleaning up around the house together, following the rabbit trail their curiosity may lead you into, color with them, build a puzzle together, sing a song, dance, and most of all- laugh together, make time for being silly (kids love that!).
Enjoy this journey Sweet One! You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll also learn more than you ever thought. This time is such a gift that will yield fruit beyond what you think possible.
– Zuyin Govea
5 HOMESCHOOLING TIPS FROM SHERRY GRAF
TIP #1: Fit Homeschool into Life, Not Life into Homeschool.
A seasoned homeschool mom gave me this advice when I was a newbie and it has continued to calm my anxious heart on many days. When life takes over and you need to call the plumber, go to the orthodontist or serve another family unexpectedly – this phrase puts it all into perspective. That well planned out day of seat work turns into a homeschool day on the go and the lessons of flexibility, love and service learned on those days are just as valuable as algebra.
TIP #2: Don’t Try to Recreate Everything the Public School Does.
This is a mental trap we can slip into faster than you can get through a spelling test. (In fact, I don’t even give spelling tests anymore! Shhhh.) It is impossible for you to recreate what a whole team of teachers and assistants do at school. But it is impossible for them to recreate many of the wonderful advantages you can build into your day. Cover the basics at your child’s pace and major on flaming the flame on their natural love of learning.
TIP #3: Just Do One Job at a Time. When You Are Teaching Leave the Housework, Emails, Dinner Prep, Etc. and Just Be Present.
This is much easier said than done! I have had the most success when I have something to keep me busy and at the table during lag time – like knitting. When you try to do all your different jobs at once (chef, daughter, teacher, maid…) you will end the day feeling pulled in 1000 directions – because you have been. There are plenty of articles out there on how multi-tasking is actually less effective – so that is another reason to just let yourself sit and enjoy your child as much as possible. And if they are whining over math, eat some chocolate and enjoy that instead while you sit and wait for the tantrum to pass.
TIP #4: Do the Things You Love With Them and Outsource the Things You Don’t If You Can!
Somehow my mom’s science brain skipped a generation. She loved chemistry and I could barely pass. So my kids get science on a computer program and outside classes. However, I can spend all day long discussing Bible, current events, reading great books together and practicing creative writing. Once my sons get to pre-algebra they “graduate” to the man working downstairs (i.e., my husband) as their math teacher.
TIP #5: If You Can’t Do It in Love, Don’t Do It.
This is the other cherry piece of advice given to me from an experienced homeschool mom (whose son has graduated college and is gainfully employed, BTW!). Your relationships are the best and most important part of homeschooling.
Finishing an entire curriculum but being burned out and at odds with each other does not foster a love for each other or for learning. When the wheels are coming off stop and change course. Many days we turn to laughter to change the mood with a funny cat video during lunch. Or we go for a walk and regroup. And of course a steady diet of time alone with God and His love to refill your tank is essential to have love to pour out on others.
– Sherry Graf
Our hope is that you find encouragement, reassurance, and helpful ideas in these words as you continue on this journey.
Know that you are NOT ALONE in this!
Remember to seek Him first, and find what works for YOUR family.