Monday, August 16, 2010

(My) Best Homeschooling Tips

In the spirit of full disclosure, those parentheses are in my title because some of these tips aren't "exactly" mine. But some of them are. And even with the ones that didn't "originate" with me, I should still get some credit for recognizing their value.

I've been a home educator for 25 (long...very long) years so my school files are sagging with articles I've clipped, emails I've printed, and notes from talks I've given. Many of them have been re-filed (in the trash can), but lots of them have tidbits worth remembering, and some of those tidbits are worth sharing. Plus, by typing them out here I can go ahead and throw away lots of paper (to make room for more paper.)

I doubt if I'll get all "my" best tips in this one post, so maybe I'll start a blog series. Debbie's Extraordinary, Sure-Fire, Clever, (Stolen) Homeschooling Helps.

In no particular order, but with the most convicting ones first -

(1) If we are always planning to get around to doing something, but we never Do It... we're just playing mind games with ourselves. We may "feel" good because we are thinking about doing it, but nothing is actually accomplished. Don't fool yourself. Some of us are expert planners ....but don't get all that much done.

(2) "Wherever you are, be all there." This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. (Sure wish I could give credit to the brilliant person who I pirated this from.) I say it to other moms (and mutter it to myself) incessantly. What this means in regard to your children is that you need to be an engaging parent who listens to your children's thoughts, hopes, plans, desires, ...and very stupid/repetitive jokes. So many of us give ourselves big kudos for being physically present, when our minds might as well have an outside job.

(3) Too many outside commitments - even really great, godly, crowd-pleasing ones - make successfully HOME educating your child impossible. Make sure there are several days (in a row!) where your van never leaves the driveway and you never have to ask your child to 'hurry up'. If you're always finding reasons to leave the house, try this little tip that works for me - Don't wash your hair, wear make-up, or brush your teeth on the days you want to stay home. You'll be less tempted to leave. Your kids might not want to sit next to you, but they'll learn more.

(4) All activities, curriculum, read-alouds, everything you do, should have a purpose. Different denominations word it differently, but most Christians would affirm that everything we do is meant to glorify God. Start questioning the reason why you use/do certain things. And the answer should not have anything to do with the fact that your friend is using it/doing it. She has a different husband, different children, different finances, different circumstances.

And if this next one doesn't motivate you to get more serious about your school year, then all my plagiarism will have been for naught-

(5) "If we view ourselves daily as having a Master over us, our High Priest the Lord Jesus Christ, how well would we do our work? How well would we plan our days? Does an employer care if you get the work done each day or not? Will you be paid if you venture off into something other than what needs to be done? Would it be a problem if you're too busy talking with friends, being on the computer, or procrastinating to be bothered with the trivial things of your child's life and education?" (Ouch! Ouch! I need a band-aid...One of those really big ones that you have to tape on.) Shouldn't our determination and motivation be all the more strong if we are serving the King of Kings?

Well, that's enough for you to work on today, sweet mommies. Tune in tomorrow (or the next day...) for more. My filing cabinet runneth over.


Stephanie Henningsen said...

Always inspiring to read your words. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Emily DeLisle said...

I read number 2 while refusing to cut my sons dinner. Can I borrow that bandaid?

angela | the painted house said...

Excellent list! #2 and 3 are what I am realizing is paramount right now.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Betty said...

Be all there! I've veered away from that one while I juggle all I have to do...I've been convicted of this one lately and making concerted efforts to return to that place. Thanks for the reminder and other really great tips.

lea said...

ouch. bring me a band-aid too. #1 was one i really didn't want to read after a summer of grand plans that NEVER got accomplished. especially the "have breakfast with debbie" idea...

Dayna said...

Thanks for the reminders, Debbie. I can't wait to start school, and posts like this get me even more pumped. I keep an arsenal of like items in a file to re-read every school year, because every school year I feel like a rookie! Now, if we can just get moved into our house and receive all of our curriculum, we might get to start some time just after Labor Day. (Gotta love overseas relocation!) Thanks again for your wit and wisdom.

Gena said...

Love it. Thanks. I plan to share this with others!

Davene said...

Oh, Debbie, thank you for this. ALL of it is good (that's why you posted it, right?), but #3 really gets me. Making sure my van never leaves the driveway...making sure I don't have to say "hurry up" ONCE to my children during a day (or a few days)...I already feel challenged. Actually, I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying "hurry up" to my 2 year-old as he climbs the steps to go to bed. We don't even have to go anywhere for my impatience to flare up. Sigh.

Does this list mean that you are going to homeschool your children this year, or are they going back to the classical school they were in last year? Not that it's any of my business really...I was just curious. :)

Janet said...

Debbie, I have been thinking of how much your advice has helped me in my home-- from putting dots on socks to differentiate children, to reading the Bible at breakfast so the most important things are accomplished. Thank you for sharing again. These seem harder, but maybe that is why they are tops on your list.

Laura said...

I'm pretty sure I have felt guilty for all of these. Not this week. I am very dedicated to our new curriculum and therefore am fully involved with the children for most of the day. I'm exhausted this week, but I'm sure I'll adjust in time for co-op and dance to start :)

busymomof10 said...

As always, I love your insights, wisdom (even if it is borrowed!), and transparency! Thanks for sharing these timeless tips!

Does that mean you have re-enlisted as a homeschooling mom? If so, I welcome you back in the trenches! I'd be curious to hear more on your thoughts of homeschooling vs. classical schooling. With having some of my sons in christian school the past three years, I certainly have thoughts on the pros and cons of such arrangements.

Having some of the kids in school and some at home automatically negates tip #3. Do you realize how hard it is to have an effective home school schedule when you have to drive 20 minutes to school and 20 minutes back home every morning and then again in the afternoon after school?? this is true whether or not you have taken a shower or brushed your teeth or put on make up!!!!! :o

I loved your quote in tip #2!!! Very good reminder! If I'm not mistaken, that piece of sage advice came from Jim Elliott. We probably heard it quoted from one of the wisest women to ever walk this earth, his wife, Elisabeth.

You know, we are really a lot alike -- except you are a lot wiser (and more experienced!). I am reading and commenting on this post *while I take a "break" from reading my own bulging files of twenty years worth of homeschool wisdom and planning tips and trying to flesh out my homeschool schedule for this year*!!

OK. Break time over! Back to work! :)

Debbie @ Cheaper By the Bakers Dozen said...

What a sweet bunch of commenters I have. Pioneer Woman and the Nester may have their thousands but ya'll make up for it with your Big Sentiments!

Yes, I'm full-time homeschooling again and have the piles of books and forms surrounding me to prove it.

Elizabeth, 5 of the children will be doing Classical Conversations - a one-day a week co-op and I'll be mixing in some of my favorite Charlotte Mason ideas.

busymomof10 said...

I've heard really good things about the Classical Conversations . . . . I hope you and your kiddos will enjoy it!! So, does that mean your children will spend the bulk of the week completing assignment given to them at their weekly CC class? And you just oversee and fill in the gaps? Is that how it works?

Kahlua Keeping Koala said...

I love when the older women teach the younger women.