Home-educating parents have so many choices that sometimes it’s hard to determine what we should do with the time we enjoy with our children each day. An overload of decisions and options can leave us feeling worn-out, guilty and overwhelmed. What’s the solution?
A consistent focus on your family’s vision and top priorities makes all the difference. One of the best things a home-educating family can do is narrow its focus to three or four long-term goals for the homeschool year.
For many families, developing positive character qualities is a top priority. Others want to emphasize the value of life skills more than some academic skills, while other families may want to focus more on academic unit studies. The point is to make your top priorities clear. This goes a long way toward streamlining the decision-making process, making it easier — and obvious — which activities and curricula should get the green light, and which can wait for another time. If it doesn’t fit your family’s vision, don’t feel any pressure or guilt to do it.
This advice works in real-time at the daily level. For many families, a top priority is developing good relationships between the children in the family. With that in mind, you may not want to interrupt them during a cooperative Lego-building session. That’s a far more valuable use of their time than hurrying on to the next lesson or activity. While they play and interact, they learn partnership, selflessness and healthy give-and-take, satisfying one of your top priorities. You can let them play guilt-free knowing that part of your family’s vision is being fulfilled.
Maybe your family vision includes giving older students opportunities to serve needy people inside and outside your home. In that case, it’s easy to say yes to a neighbor who needs some extra help shopping or getting the mail, or to make a meal for someone who is sick. Rather than interruptions, these become educational choices and great learning experiences, not to mention that they benefit others.
Say that your goal this year is to teach worthwhile life skills. Having the kids help with an installation job that has presented itself in your home may trump the spelling test you had planned. Surely, knowing how to change a tire, fix a sprinkler, boil an egg, clean a bathroom, sew on a button and mow the lawn can do as much to prepare our children for adulthood as a spelling test — although I am for both!
Maybe science is a significant priority for you, but you can’t manage to ever get to it. If that’s the case, why not try a unit study that incorporates science, history and literature? For example, Beautiful Feet Books (www.bfbooks.com) offers a History of Science guide that all the children in your home — elementary through middle school — can do together.
Consistent focus on a few top priorities over time will lead to great success. When a multitude of choices becomes a multitude of distractions, your strong family vision, carried out through these priorities, will help you achieve what you want through home education.
Books for helping explore the ideas behind homeschooling and choosing your priorities:
- Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
- For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
- Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
For help prioritizing, planning, and decluttering:
- joyfulmorning.com >shop>free downloads for organization, planning sheets, meal plan organizers, and more
- Thepeacefulpress.com > shop > free family vision sheet
- treehouseschoolhouse.com > shop > daily rhythm, morning time, rhythm