Back to Homeschool Tips & Resources
Help with Homeschooling
It's Back to Homeschool Time!
It's that time of year again, when our thoughts turn to homeschool curriculums, planners, returning to the homeschool routine, field trips and other extracurricular activities. This lens is my effort to put it all in one place for you.
Practical & Creative Suggestions & Resources
I hope you will find both practical and creative ideas for your homeschooling year. Creative, like using cokking in the kitchen for math and science lessons. Practical, like establishing a daily routine that works for both you and your family!
Best wishes for a wonderful homeschool year!
This is the homeschool planner I have chosen, in chocolate :), but there are several other planners available, too. What I liked about this one is that it allows separate space for each homeschooled child.
I only have one child I am homeschooling, so I will use those spaces for my work-from-home tasks.
Establishing a Workable Homeschool Routine
What Kind of Routine Works Best for You?
Every year I revisit the task of creating a routine for myself and my family that will work throughout the homeschool year. What time to get up, when to eat breakfast, how to make quick but reasonably healthy lunches, how to divide up the homeschooling day.
These are all important questions I try to answer sometime around the beginning of August! Because, invariably, I find problems with last year's routine and during the summer, have almost no recognizable routine, whatsoever.
Do You Need A More Structured Schedule or a Less Structured One?
For some people, a set schedule is the best way to run their lives. For others, however, having everything planned out in fifteen minute increments doesn't sound like fun. Where structure might be desired, it isn't always practical. Conversely, while being relaxed might be great, some routines are needed to be effective as homeschoolers.
Schedules and routines for homeschooling are as varied as the families that homeschool. Here are a couple of routine types that a family can follow:
(1) You might decide to create a similar routine to that of kids in a public school. This would include getting up at a specific time every day and then starting their day with either breakfast or chores as the first order of the day. Following that, the children would be given 45 minutes per subject, just like if they were in public school, and they would have a printed schedule to go by for their day.
(2) If you're not enthused by this approach, a more relaxed routine might be more what you're looking for. If this is the case, you may start your day whenever one of the children gets out of bed. You can work with that one child, undisturbed, until the other children make their presence known. This type of routine would be more staggered, with mom giving special attention to each child as they rise.
(3) Some homeschoolers don't really have a set schedule or routine for actual schoolwork. They may allow the children to choose which subject they want to do first, and continue in that way until all subjects are covered. This type of routine is great for those students who are self-starters and can work without supervision.
(4) While these routines might be helpful, there are the people that completely against anything planned and live life by the seats of their pants.
This is the type of person that allows the day to happen to them, taking each moment as it comes and living their life to the fullest. They often have more fun, but may have a little bit of a problem finishing projects and school work.
Whichever routine or schedule you choose to follow, just remember to take some time out of your scheduled day to enjoy your children. Plan some free time on your calendar to allow them to just enjoy being a child. Part of the reason we homeschool is to spend quality time with our children.
Let the schedules and routines slip every now and then. You'll be glad you did, and your children will thank you for it.
How to Ease Them Back into a Routine
How can you ease your kids into a routine before summer ends and school begins? Well, it can be done all at once or a little at a time. But the best way to ease children in to a routine is probably to do it gradually.
About a month before the first day of school, parents can begin transitioning kids back into a routine. The first thing to do is begin having kids take their showers or baths at set times during week nights. Then, a week or so before the first day of school, parents can implement a regular bed time. This will make sure that kids are getting adequate amounts of sleep well before school starts.
Finally, when the first day of school arrives, it will be an easy task for parents to establish the finalized school routine. Kids will already know when chores need to be done, what time dinner is, when showers are to be taken and when bed time is. All that is left to be scheduled is time for homework!
As Waldorf homeschoolers, we loosely follow a daily structure that is based on the Waldorf child development model and the course of study recommended for his age group. This year, we will do fourth grade.
(1) We start with music and poetry, or brief stories that relate to the lesson we will work on later.
(2) We read a story related to our topic for the day.
(3) After discussing the story and its implications, we draw a picture that describes the story. On the next day, we summarize that story and write a paragraph about it in the sketch pad beneath the picture from the day before.
(4) Though we don't do this every day, at some point, we bake bread.
(5) We do some form of exercise, sometimes a walk in nature, discussing what we observe.
(6) Sometime during the week, we create a watercolor related to something we worked on during the week.
(7) The Waldorf recommendation includes handwork (like knitting) and a musical instrument such as a recorder, but we haven't incorporated that into our routine yet. My son has the recorder and an instruction book and has taken a look at it, but the ideal is that I would learn it first and then, teach it to him. And I just haven't gotten around to that yet.
(8) At least one day a week, we join with other homeschoolers in the area for a co-op class. For the past several years, we have taken a ballroom dance class. This year, we are thinking about adding a cooking class and a creative writing class.
Have You Chosen Your Homeschool Curriculum Yet?
Choosing a Cirriculum for Homeschooling
Though we are continuing within the Waldorf framework, each year has different emphases, and with each new year, we still have to choose which materials to use and then, plan the year accordingly. I confess that I am not finished with the planning process yet (I plan every day of his year in advance), but I have begun, and I have set aside the last two weeks of August to really dive in and get it done!!
Where are you in the planning process?
Guidelines for Choosing Your Curriculum
What is important to you?
Think about why you chose to homeschool your child. What is the most important benefit in your opinion? Are you concerned about the quality of your child's education? Do you want to be able to focus on character development or religious beliefs in addition to the other cntent you choose?
Is it important to you that your child be accepted into a good college? Are you more concerned with teaching your child to be financially independent or to have respect for the environment? Are you uncomfortable with self-directed learning or do you want your child to have freedom or more involvement in their education?
What is it that is truly important to you and how do you want to pass on that knowledge to your child?
Answering these questions can help lead you in the right direction in regards to what curriculum to choose. Also keep in mind the legal requirements of the state you live in.
Consider your family situation
Do you have several children or are you pregnant or caring for elderly relatives? Do you work part time or have little support with homeschooling? Are you a single parent?
If you have a complicated situation it's going to be especially challenging for you to spend a lot of time educating your child. A curriculum that requires minimal teacher preparation and supervision might be best, for instance the "all in one" style of homeschool curriculum that operates like "school in a box" versus unit studies that require more prep work on your part.
What about your financial situation?
If you are short on funds, you may lean towards an eclectic or unschooling style rather than a conventional curriculum. You can find homeschool materials cheaply or even free via the Internet, and even yard sales, thrift stores and online auctions.
Conversely, if money is no object, you can go all out and pick a curriculum that includes all the craft and science project materials as well as hard bound books your child will be reading during the year. Teacher support via Internet or phone may be available also.
Consider your philosophy
Do you believe in a classical education philosophy that dictates a lot of copywork and memorization, or are you a proponent of a more experiential, hands-on or informal style of learning? If you choose a curriculum that doesn't mesh with your beliefs about education, you'll find yourself hemmed in and frustrated and likely your child will be unhappy with the choice too.
There is no one "best" choice for homeschooling your child. And as a homeschooling parent you are free to change things whenever you want or need to do so.
The Most Important Thing to Remember
There is something else most parents forget and it just may be the most important thing you need to include as you plan this school year and each homeschooling year to come.
We each are born with a purpose, a life purpose blueprint encoded into our souls, that contains the information we need to know about what we came here to do. It answers the question of why we are in a specific sense. And that information becomes available while we are still in the womb, waiting to be uncovered.
Because of this, it is already available for your children. You and they can know right now what their life purpose is and you can use that knowledge to guide or supplement what you teach each year as you homeschool.
How to Find Out
Where is that information? It is hidden in their hands. Hand analysis will tell you what their life purpose is, what some of the challenges will be as they journey toward living it out and what framework or concentration surrounds the life lessons they will learn.
And life purpose does not change, so if you have your child's hands read when she is seven years old, you need not worry that her life purpose will change by the time she is choosing a college or after she is twenty years into her career. We all have heard of children who take time off from college to "find themselves" because they have no idea what they want to do.
But the thing that would make their hearts sing is written into their hearts already if they only knew what it was.
Imagine how useful that information would be to have while homeschooling your son or daughter. Obviously, they would still need a well-rounded education, but you could begin far in advance of college to begin to choose to teach what they most need to learn.
You also could help them personally, to begin to deal with those life lessons and challenges that create obstacles on their path. If you have a heads up when they are still young, maybe they will be able to avoid some of the mistakes and potential heartache that comes from choosing a path that will not fulfill them.
"When my kids whine that they don't want to write a boring old report, or are at a loss for what to do as a science or history project, or even when I am looking for new ways for young one's to learn their alphabet or numbers, I hand them the scrapbooking supplies. Instead of just writing a report about the book they have finished reading, they create an exciting scrapbook page with illustrations and journaling about the story."~~M.S. Beltran
Use the I'm An Author program to teach your homeschool writing course...
(1) Exploring the concept that we all have stories and beginning to identify and explore story ideas, using games and exercises.
(2) Choosing a story and using story starters, games and object lessons to develop stories.
(3) Oral storytelling, practice telling stories to others, using story games and activities.
(4) Storymapping and coaching: using the model of Donald Davis, storyboards, mapping the story.
(5) Filling in and fleshing out the details for the story characters and setting using exercises.
(6) Fattening the story with more oral storytelling practice.
(7) Illustrating or scanning pictures, editing and publishing the story, hardbound, in the size you choose.
(8) Copies can be made for any family members who may want them.
For more information about the I'm An Author kit and program, click here and complete the form.
Tell Your Family's Simple Stories
Make it a homeschooling project...
Your photos and memories are far too important to keep in a box, store on a computer or bury in a pile. We know life is busy and at times it feels nearly impossible to keep up with all of life's demands - yet alone find time for the things you enjoy like your scrapbook hobby and preserving your memories.
(1) Create a homeschool planner and embellish it with scrapbooking materials. Get one of those binders so you can make it as big or fat as you need for it to be.
(2) Create storybook writing projects like an "about me" storybook or a journal.
(3) Create a fictional story and scan your child's artwork to illustrate it.
(4) Research your family's genealogy and create a book with your findings.
(5) Showcase your family's artwork or just do regular scrapbooking as part of your art requirement. Learning how to create a layout teaches children about color & shapes and encourages your child's creativity.
(6) Science projects: take pictures of changes that occur during the experiment or detail the process step by step.
(7) Create a homeschool yearbook: you can record every report, project or unit study, or just create a general description of your homeschooling year.
What about Lunch?
These come straight from an article titled Lunch Box Food by Suzanne Myers, the Hillbilly Housewife. Here are some of my favorites from her very extensive list.
For some, I added my own idea for a variation or left out part of hers...
Yummy Sandwich Ideas for Lunch
Tuna salad sandwich w/ celery
Chicken salad sandwich (she adds raisins)
Meat loaf sandwich w/ tomatoes (sliced or diced)
Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich
Bacon with fried eggs sandwich (yum!!)
Sloppy Joe sandwich
Turkey and bacon sandwich w/ bean sprouts
Sliced cucumber sandwich w/ cream cheese (for afternoon tea?)
Egg biscuit with sausage
Sliced roast beef sandwich w/ cream cheese (or melted brie w/ red peppers~ yum!)
Hamburgers or hot dogs
Cubed chicken sandwich with bbq sauce, cheese and mayo
Chicken or beef fajitas
She also has a long list of ideas for taking in a thermos. Soups and more...
I love these ideas, because I often run out oif creative ideas for sandwiches. I would like to try all of these during our next homeschooling year...
Which ones will you try?
One Pot Meals
After a busy homeschooling day, the last thing I want to do is have to slave over dinner! So I came up with a solution that i think is going to work for me this year. Perhaps you would like to try it, too?
I intend to devote part of the homeschool morning (or early afternoon) to preparing dinner. But it won't take long because we will dump it all in the beanpot, put it in the oven and when dinnertime rolls around, have a meal already ready to go!
Would that work for you?
Click on the picture below if you would like more information...
Create an Afternoon Tea Time"I started drinking tea when my children were preschool age. Somewhere along the line we started having Afternoon Tea together after school. My children are now teenagers and love having tea almost as much as I do."~~Brenda Hyde
Your afternoon tea time can be a break in the middle of your homeschooling day or a treat at the end of it!The typical menu for tea time seems to include several different types of tea sandwiches, cut into squares or triangles (cucumber, chicken salad, egg salad, etc), some kind of quiche, grapes, scones, cookies, cake or pie, and finally, tea!
(1) If you have more than one child, and you want to share tea time with them all at once, make sure you also plan special times alone with each one. Perhaps a weekly afternoon tea for each child, separate from the regular one.
(2) Give your child a personalized invitation to the first tea, and then, explain that you would like for it to be a regular get-together. Your child will love having special time with Mommy.
(3) Tea time is a great way to reinforce everything you are teaching your children about manners, without them being intimidated.
(4) You can have theme parties occasionally if you would like. Here are some great ideas (dress-up tea parties, fairy princess tea parties, etc)...at Tea Party Ideas but you want to make sure that your regular tea time isn't so elaborate that it becomes impractical.
(5) Spend the time getting to know your children better. Ask what was special about their day or invite them to tell you a joke. Mary Ann and Kimberly, a mother and daughter team, suggest this conversation prompt: "Tell me something you want me to know about you".
(6) You can make reading part of the ritual, as well. You can read a book together while you are enjoying your afternoon tea or right after you finish.
If you start these intimate tea-time conversations when they are young, they will be a favorite routine as they grow older.
"Activities such as tea parties, reading, family game nights and craft time will stay with them forever as gentle memories that will carry them through difficult times in their lives. Plan your tea party today, and enjoy an afternoon of magic and whimsy with your children!" --Brenda Hyde
"In our studies, we were not only impressed by what some children could achieve in the first years, but also by the fact that a child's own family seemed so obviously central to the outcome. Indeed, we came to believe that the more informal education that families provide for their children makes more of an impact on a child's total education than the formal education system." -Burton White, Harvard
- Simple Homeschool - Never let your schooling interrupt your education.
Homeschooling is not the answer to every educational problem. But it does allow families who pursue it to be intentional—to focus on each child’s strengths, to help with weaknesses, and to nurture family relationships.These families realize that the
- Book of Days Introduction
Fun for Families, Food for Thought: That's the idea behind our seasonal ezine, The Book of Days. Our family created the Book of Days as a way for us to become more intentional, more mindful, about how we spend our time. We set out to choose, research
- Sarah Baldwin | Moonchild Blog | Writings on childhood, creative play, Waldorf toys and parenting
Waldorf educator and author Sarah Baldwin blogs about childhood, parenting, creative play, and operating her online toy store: I’m Sarah Baldwin, a Waldorf early childhood educator, author, and owner of Bella Luna Toys, an online shop selling Waldorf
- Yarns of the Heart
I'm Jena, and I have three great kids who have been educated at home from the beginning with an "interest led" or "unschooling" bent. Now I'm teetering on the edge of an empty nest with my oldest at the University of Chicago (on a full ride scholarsh
- Journey Into Unschooling
Journey Into Unschooling is a chronicle of the learning adventures between three kids and their parents -- what they did, where they went, and how they liked it!
- Mt. Hope Chronicles
This is where I celebrate the little things... living in the country with three little boys (and a hubby), decorating and design, photography, homeschooling, books, and this wonderful thing called life!
- Homeschooling with Fun in My Back Yard (FIMBY)
FIMBY is a blog about natural living, family life, creativity and homeschooling. In short, it's about the Fun In My Back Yard. Woven throughout are the stories and photographs of our family's values; being in nature and healthy living, freedom in ed
- The Homeschool Club on Facebook
Learn how to make your own web pages about your favorite homeschooling stories and resources. We're all gathered in the Facebook group.