It’s the beginning of the year, and the classroom has been cleaned up after the holidays. The space feels more open and inviting. A friend recently shared a post on things that should be eliminated in the New Year, which made me think more deeply about things that we should eliminate from our homeschool.
10 Things to Eliminate from Your Homeschool
Get rid of something? It seems almost like a sacrilege to say this to a homeschool parent. You might need that item in the future for something.
I’m not the only one who has felt that way, am I?
All of that stuff begins to weigh us down after a year or more. The room seems very full and crammed, and when you need to find something specific, it can be difficult to even know where to start looking.
Here are ten things to eliminate from your homeschool – or at least take a good, hard look at and see if you need to make a few changes that will help bring a fresh perspective and motivation to your day!
If you’re like me and have a tendency to save too much paperwork (finished and unfinished), you can quickly take up a lot of space in your room and storage. Make a plan to review your papers every six weeks and get rid of the daily handwriting papers, extra worksheets, and other things that you don’t need to keep. Keep key pieces that show progress or favorite memories.
You don’t need to save every single paper you’ve ever written. Some papers may be worth keeping for a portfolio or review, but others can be thrown away. This post explains how we keep our homeschool paperwork organized. At the end of each year, clear out anything you don’t need. Know how much you really need to save. Remember, you aren’t saving for a tax audit!
Unused Games and Manipulatives
These books have never been used although they may look useful to you when you pick them up at a used curriculum sale or a friend hands them off to you. If you have any extra Mason jars around the house, you can either use them to make a learning jar for your kids or give them to another family or your local thrift store.
It can be helpful to go through your games collection periodically to see if there are any that your family has outgrown, that you’re not using as much as you thought you would, or that you don’t really like. giving up something you love is hard, but if it’s just sitting around and taking up space, it may be time to let it go.
What Isn’t Working
If you are using a physical curriculum or teaching method that is not working well with your child, you should remove it and try something else. If you are finding that the curriculum you are using is not working well, this post provides some tips for what you can do. Get rid of your old textbooks by selling them or giving them to a friend.
When it comes to explaining a child’s trying behavior, take a step back and evaluate what the root of the issue is. After having a break, it is often easier to see which teaching and/or parenting methods we have become stuck in and this allows us to change our approach in the upcoming weeks. If you are struggling to make a decision, talk to your spouse or a friend for their input.
Although it may be difficult, giving away books can be the right thing to do, especially if you have duplicates, books you will never read, or ones that are in bad condition. If you ever need one of these books, chances are that the library or a friend will have them available.
Purge, purge, purge!
There are some projects that turn out even more beautiful than we imagine, but sometimes our little Picassos don’t create something that is as lovely. For my part, I try to gently encourage and urge him to keep going.) Even though I’m not the only one who finds it difficult, it’s especially hard for me because Picasso Jr. is so completely in love with his work. I try to motivate and encourage him to keep going.
Showcase some of your kid’s art projects around the house, and save a few of their favorites. Take pictures of the rest of their artwork to keep for sentimental reasons, and to make the kids happy. A small amount of storage space on a computer disk is much less than what is needed in a school room or a folder.
You may be stretched a little thin on your time outside of the home if you are trying to balance work, family, and other obligations. Feeling overwhelmed with over commitments is very common! Evaluate whether the co-ops, extra classes, sports, volunteering, and events you are involved in are really necessary.
It’s important for everyone to have time to relax and decompress. Pushing ourselves too hard will only lead to exhaustion. It’s important to be the best parent you can be for your kids, which sometimes means saying no to something that’s good for you but not good for them at the moment. It’s tough when there are lots of good things but they might not work for you or your family right now.
This stuff seems to mutiply overnight! Tissue paper, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and GLITTER!! The stuff seems to never disappear and it’s always moving to new areas of the carpet. It can be helpful to go through your craft supplies every so often and get rid of any extras that you’re hanging on to, just in case you might need them some day.
If you’re not ready to get rid of them yet, put them all in a plastic bag and let your kids go wild one afternoon this week to make the craziest project they can. (And then check the art project section above when they’re done.)
It’s a good idea every now and then to sit down and take a close look at what is distracting not only the kids, but also myself. There might be someone in your life who calls or interrupts you at the same time every day. For example, my mom knows I homeschool and doesn’t think it’s a problem to interrupt me whenever she feels like it.
It can be hard to resist the urge to check your social media notifications when they’re so easily accessible on your phone. Or Candy Crush. You should be aware of your bad habits and take steps to remove them from your life, whether that means deleting them from your phone or taking other measures to keep yourself focused on what’s important.
Some children may be distracted by playing with toys, like Lego figures and creations, when they should be focusing on finishing their work. While a classroom doesn’t need to be devoid of decoration, there are certain things that are better suited for other times and places. If an item is more of a hindrance than a tool, it should be relocated.
Fears and Doubts
There are often days and nights when I will have doubts and they will look for a home. Abilities are questioned and fear can hold you captive. Doubts that enough isn’t being done. I think that parenting skills are the worst in the world. Feelings of inadequacy.
And the list goes on.
It may sound silly, but write down your fears and accept them. Talk to a friend about the situation and then tell the truth about what is happening. Fear and doubts are not truth, they are emotions.
If you’re constantly comparing your homeschooling experience to the schooling experience of others, you’ll find yourself feeling stuck and unhappy. First, a few clicks on Facebook turn into jealousy over how talented other kids seem and how clean other people’s homes are. If you focus on comparing your children to others, your homeschool to others, or anything else, you will destroy the joy of what you have.
Things Homeschool Moms Should Stop Worrying About
1. Teaching Preschool
Will your kids be behind?
Many mothers of young children believe that they must start formal homeschooling at age 3, or their children will be at a disadvantage. It’s not clear who decides who is behind and who is ahead, but we don’t usually stop to think about that. We just worry that they’ll be behind–whatever that means.
The main issue is that most extremely young kids simply need to play. They need to learn by being kids. Children need to learn how to be responsible by helping out with tasks around the house such as cooking dinner, setting the table, raking the yard, washing clothes, and cleaning up after themselves. They need to play with toys that encourage fine motor development and eye-hand coordination. They need to get plenty of exercise and explore their surroundings by playing and making messes. Parents need to set a good example by enjoying reading themselves and reading aloud to their children. They need to sing songs and dance and move. These are the things they need. Not curriculum. Not when they’re still toddlers.
What about pre-school and teaching children when they’re very young?
Some children prefer a more structured environment, and that is acceptable. You can do some tot school activities with your child if they are interested and want to do them. If they only want to play, it is perfectly fine! Children can learn a lot from playing games and doing everyday activities with friends and family.
Postscript – It is probably not a good idea to try and introduce handwriting at this age as young children are likely to get frustrated. Most of them are not developed enough yet to be able to write well. It’s okay if they want to color, doodle, and even write letters and numbers at this age, but I would suggest not emphasizing good, legible handwriting until they’re much older.
2. Teaching High School
The main advice is: DON’T PANIC! There is plenty of support for classes you don’t feel good about teaching. I think you will be surprised at how little effort it takes to keep up with school education. My daughter decided she should try out high school to make sure she was ready for college. She says now that she shouldn’t have worried. She found high school to be pretty easy to keep up with, even though we never followed any kind of strict curriculum at any point in her life!
You have the teacher’s manuals with all the answers! You do not need to know every answer to every question in order to teach your kids. You can stop worrying about knowing everything there is to know, because nobody knows everything about every subject. Seriously.
3. My Kids Getting into College
I spent years worrying that my kids wouldn’t be able to get into college or get good jobs after they graduated. Now I can see that my worry was for nothing! I wish I could tell my younger self to enjoy high school more and to worry about it less.
I know a lot of parents of school educated kids who are worried about the same thing. It seems to be normal to panic kids into believing that without top grades, hours of community service, and all the extra-curriculars in the world, they have no chance of getting into college. It’s a pleasure these days to tell those moms to stop worrying. I literally know not a single child who wanted to go to college who wasn’t able to go. There are plenty of schools for all levels of preparation.