by LAURA CZERWINSKI
Taking charge of your child’s home education is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or stressful.
Picture this: you are in the aisle of a craft store and before you is an array of colored pens, pencils and markers, all begging you to take them home to be used with the new academic planner you just purchased. Do you want to use a pencil so that you can easily erase? Or will it be a marker so that the color is bold on the page? Should there be a bit of sparkle in the ink? What about some fun stickers to accent things?
While it’s wonderful to have so many choices, things can seem to get complicated pretty quickly. This happens at many twists and turns in our lives. Schooling at home is no different. If you’ve checked out some of the resources mentioned in previous articles, chances are that you might have caught on that there are so many choices when it comes to curriculum, field trips, activities, co-ops, planners, blogs, and yes, the slurry of different colored pens to use in your planner.
Of course, it’s ok when you are getting started to want to experiment a little and try out some different ways of doing things. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few lessons on what to do and what to maybe, well skip. Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered that can help keep things running smoothly with minimal stress.
- Keep healthy snacks handy. The temptation to give in to unhealthy snacks is real, especially on days when things don’t go as planned. Many busy parents meal plan and prep at the beginning of the week which can be a huge help in this category! For those of us that might not always have the time to prep, fruit is a great handheld snack that has minimal, if any prep work involved.
- Your child will produce many wonderful drawings, paintings and other crafty projects. Yes, you should absolutely save those that have key meaning. But, you can’t save….everything. (Ok, you COULD, but you need to have some serious storage space available!) Create a designated album on your phone or other device to showcase these masterpieces wherever you store your pictures. While we’re at it, take photos of all the different activities of your schooling journey and save those there, too.
- In a previous article, I suggested including educational activities outside the home. However, try not to schedule too many of these on your calendar. Choose things that will bring the most value and joy to your child. Maybe plan something physical once a week (Phys ed) and then something else you aren’t able to teach at home (a musical instrument, a STEM activity, etc.) Other seasonal field trips and activities will pop up that you will want to participate in and when you try to squeeze them into an already full week, you can sometimes find yourself scrambling to find time for the ‘basics.’ This will undoubtedly induce a little stress. This was one of the very first things others told me when I first started our journey. I THOUGHT I had it covered, but fell in the trap anyway.
Consider schooling beyond the ‘traditional’ school year calendar. You don’t need to be aligned to your city or town’s public school schedule.
Many families ‘do school’ year round so that they can pace themselves and take breaks on a more regular basis as needed during the year. This also gives your family a chance to enjoy the weather in the fall, winter and spring and take trips when most families are in school.
Have your schedule be built around the life your family lives.
Have key documents handy. Keep a binder with:
- A calendar to jot down what you’ve accomplished each day. I find that doing this gives us a great review at the end of the year of what we’ve covered and all the fun activities we did.
- A copy of the NC Attendance Record. You don’t have to use this form, but it is available as a free download on the ncadmin.nc.gov site. I found it easy to use and no reason to over complicate things by looking for other resources.
- A recent copy of your immunization records.
- A printout of your homeschool registration card.
Embracing simplicity can bring numerous benefits to both kids and parents. Minimizing distractions, keeping focus on core essentials and fostering a nurturing environment will help your children (and you!) thrive, learn and grow!