This is one of our most popular back to school messages and has been recently updated.
You’re chasing the toddler, trying not to slip in the puddle of milk on the floor and your phone’s ringing.
It’s 3:00 in the afternoon. You have other things you need to do other than school. Your 5th grader is still staring into space instead of working on his math, and your first and third graders are getting into it. And you’re kicking yourself for forgetting to get the meat out of the freezer for dinner.
How in the world am I going to make all this work?
If you are in over your head, and you CRAVE having a peaceful home, I’m going to share a secret with you. There is a way to make it work, and this is what you do.
You focus on priorities.
If you keep your priorities in mind, you can weather the storm. I’m not saying your house is going to stay clean or you won’t forget to get the meat out of the freezer.
But you’ll have a peaceful home because you are in charge and you are preserving, protecting, and nurturing young hearts and minds.
Keep reading to see the priorities. Follow these seven priorities and you’ll be a rockstar homeschool mom.
1. Academics are important – but relationships are more important.
Always remember that the child is more important than the schoolwork. I know you agree, in theory. But sometimes when one is correcting a wiggly, uncooperative kid – for the fourth time in an hour – it’s hard to remember. Put away the math book. Stop and talk with your child and determine what is going on in his head instead of just lowering the boom. Is he hungry? Is he still hurt from a harsh word from you this morning that you need to apologize for?
This is point #1 for a reason – to be a rock star homeschool mom you need to remember that relationships are more important than schoolwork — no matter what.
In the same vein, relationships with siblings are more important than schoolwork. In our house, it’s not permissible for siblings to fight and tear each other down physically or verbally. Stop and referee, require apologies and make things right before trying to get back to work.
Your goal is that your children will not just be siblings… they’ll be friends. Good friends. Maybe even the best of friends.
One more relationship to talk about – the one between you and your husband.
Don’t put that on the back burner for 15 years while you teach school. Believe it or not, that time goes by pretty fast.
It is SO easy for us to put the kids before our marriage, and when we do so we are not doing ourselves or our children any favors.
If you want them to have successful marriages, you have to show them what one looks like.
Make your husband a priority. Spend some time ALONE with him, even if you have to trade babysitting with a friend to get out and get coffee or just take a walk.
2. Don’t stress over things you can’t control.
First, allow a little margin in your life.
I say this from experience! I’m the Queen of Overcommitment. As soon as you squeeze too many responsibilities on your plate, the most inconsequential thing can put you into a tailspin – and everyone in your path suffers.
I see you nodding your head.
When you homeschool there are things to which you need to say “no.” Beneficial things. Fun things.
Learn to say no.
If you have trouble with this, learn not to commit without talking with your husband about it first. (Then you can blame it on him when you say no.)
Just kidding. (Not really.)
The other stuff that we let get in the way
You might not have a house with the dedicated homeschool room that you salivate over on Pinterest. You may not have the money for the latest-and-greatest homeschool curriculum your friend adores.
Your husband may not be as involved in or supportive of you homeschooling as you wish he was.
There is no end to the comparison. Determine not to go there.
Sit down with your husband and plan what you want your homeschool to look like. Then work your plan.
3. Worry about the big things and let the little things take care of themselves.
I’m going to tell you right now:
You’re not going to teach them everything they need to know and they’re certainly not going to remember everything you teach them.
The important things are:
- Where are your children in terms of their spiritual life? This is critical in our home. If it is in yours, too, is it reflected in your daily conversation and how you spend your time? You might even want to create a homeschooling plan that reflects this priority.
- Teach your kids how to discipline their minds to listen, to learn and to find information on their own.
- Train them to own their own work, manage their own belongings (including school supplies) and their own spaces.
- Give your children opportunities to serve others and rub shoulders with people of all ages and backgrounds. Serving in soup kitchens are fantastic for this.
- Teach your kids to communicate with all others politely, tactfully and kindly. We were all made in the image of God, y’ know. Even if we don’t agree with everything someone believes or have problems with the way they live. Everyone deserves respect.
These are all life lessons that will take your kids far. There is SO much more to life than just finishing a math lesson.
Let me ask you — what do you remember about what you learned in school (the academic part, I mean)?
If you are like most of us, you don’t remember much! But your kids will remember what you thought was important.
As far as academics go, what your kids will remember is what engaged their interest. The projects you worked on, the research you did, some of the papers you wrote. The books they loved. The time you spent together as a family learning, playing games, reading together, and having fun.
4. Study your children; identify their passions and how they learn best.
What do they enjoy the most?
- Is there something, in particular, they run to do as soon as you let them loose for a break?
- What always grabs their attention?
- Do they talk about a certain subject?
- What do they like to read or learn about in their free time?
- What do they learn quickly and easily?
- Do they automatically grab a book or search the Internet to learn something?
- Are they listening to music most of their waking hours?
- Do they like to talk about what they are learning?
- Are they ALWAYS moving?
- Do they like drama? Art? Music? Playing with Lego blocks?
Educate yourself about learning styles and try to identify yours and theirs. Give them a chance to use the things they like (art, music, cooking, organizing) in their assignments. It will help them engage in and enjoy school more.
5. Cultivate a love for learning.
The best way to do this is to be an enthusiastic learner yourself.
Generate some excitement about learning new things.
Let them see you read. Provide lots of stimulating reading material – at or below your children’s reading level.
This is important: Let them choose whatever they want to read for daily fun-reading time outside of school.
(Shh- this will also improve their reading comprehension and fluency, even if it’s beneath their reading level, but don’t tell them.)
This is not a school thing, it is a fun thing. (It’s all in the marketing.)
Go to the library frequently. Buy magazine subscriptions in the areas of your child’s interests for Christmas and birthdays.
Talk about what you are learning. Regularly go around the table at dinner telling each other about the most interesting or surprising thing you learned that day.
6. You’re the teacher. Take the time to be prepared.
You don’t always have to be perfectly organized and prepared to homeschool. BUT, it makes school much easier if you make an effort to be ready. If you are prepared, you are more confident.
If you have confidence in yourself, your children will have more confidence in you as their teacher.
This is especially important if you have recently taken your child out of public or private school. Strategies that help:
- Put your things away and teach your kids to do the same. (See #3)
- Avoid clutter like the plague.
- Take time to prepare lessons in advance. Ask yourself — do I understand this? Do I need to look anything up first? Do I have the supplies I need? Have I allowed enough time for this lesson? (If you need help with this, take a look at our Daily Lesson Plans – daily plans in history, science, language arts, and fine arts. With weekly supply lists and more.)
- Think ahead: What are the younger ones going to do while I teach this?
- Take an occasional “teacher workday” and spend some concentrated time during holiday/summer breaks to get ready for homeschooling
- Ask your husband or a friend to take the kids for a few hours a week so you can plan and prepare for the next week.
7. Don’t try to be a friend to your kids. They need you to be a parent first.
I can’t stress this enough. Your kids need the security in knowing that you are in charge of their homeschooling. You’re the teacher. If you’re married, your husband is the principal.
I’m not suggesting that you be an authoritarian or dictator, or that you shouldn’t try to get along with your children.
I’m just recommending that you be a parent first – set clear expectations of what is acceptable behavior in your home and how children are going to behave when school is in session.
And be consistent with your discipline.
I know you’re tired, and you don’t want to deal with one.more.thing. But you are investing in their futures. They need this from you.
If you’re a rockstar homeschool mom, you are helping lay a foundation for your kids to be secure. And not only that, for them to be successful in college, be able to hold down a job, or work for themselves. Not to mention being good parents themselves someday.
P.S. Do any of these particularly resonate with you? Would you add anything else to my list? Tell me in the comments!