Sometimes we reflect on our homeschool experience from previous years and we think “I don’t want to do that again- ever!” It may not even be that we want to give up homeschooling completely. It’s just that we need a homeschool makeover. We just need to make a homeschool that reflects who we are as a family- today.
Sometimes all we need are a few small adjustments and we can get back on track with where we need to be. Many times we’re off track because our homeschooling style just doesn’t reflect who we are. The start of a new school year is a great time to take back charge of our home schools.
I’m always thinking of ways I can shake up my own homeschool each year so that it looks more like our family’s homeschool- not another school or another family’s homeschool, but ours and ours alone. Here are a few ideas I came up with that are helping me rediscover what my family needs this year- and some tips that I hope will help you too.
Find your niche philosophy.
Even if you don’t know all the terminology and educational labels out there, at least consider discovering your view of education. Without a starting point as a foundation it’s rather hard to have a grasp on what will work for your family or not. Maybe one child is a kinesthetic learner while another loves to read.
There you have two different types of lessons- one with more movement and the other is a more literature-based approach. Maybe you’re attracted to a particular method like Charlotte Mason, Classical, or Traditional. Knowing your philosophy and establishing your “niche” will inevitably change the face of your homeschool. At least you’ll know how you want to create your lessons or which kinds of resources you’ll want to purchase to support you in your mission- which leads me to my next point.
Locate your favorite resources.
If you know what your homeschool style or philosophy is then you’ve cleared up some possible confusion about which materials and resources to purchase. If you already know you won’t be following a particular method, by process of elimination you can automatically gravitate toward those materials that support your chosen philosophy of education.
It doesn’t mean you can’t be eclectic and grab from a variety of types of resources- but at least you have a sharper focus when making choices.
A few years ago when my kids were a bit younger, I chose to incorporate much of the Charlotte Mason method into our homeschool, so of course this lead me to resources which supported the method (like classical music, poetry books, nature study journals). I didn’t have to waste time wondering what types of resources I needed to get. It feels good just to know what you need in advance.
Get into the swing of things.
Once school starts, my hope is that we would get into the swing of things really fast and enjoy our days of learning together. Starting one thing, stopping, starting something new, then stopping, is not the best way to go about things!
While I like the freedom I have to redirect my kids if something doesn’t work out, I’d still like to potentially find a pattern, routine, and curriculum that works out well enough for us to continue for the long haul (and I use “long haul” lightly).
Getting into the swing of our homeschooling days simply requires that mama is not all over the place from month to month. It’s nice to be able to find the joy in homeschooling because you’ve gotten into your groove- and you love it!
Find the right support group.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that friendships I’ve made as a result of homeschooling have been a major support system and lifeline to me and my family. I don’t know what I’d do without my awesome sisters and friends in Christ who have been there for me to support me through homeschooling and through my personal life.
I think finding the right homeschooling support group was crucial for my emotional and mental health on so many levels. Whether you have to reach beyond your comfort zone and navigate your local homeschooling support groups or reach out and find a pen pal online, finding a support system will motivate and encourage you to keep going. You will also feel more confident in your own homeschooling style as you talk to other homeschoolers. I highly encourage finding a support group.
All of these things I’ve mentioned have helped me to focus my energy on finding the “our” in our homeschool. It’s not just about reflecting myself, but my family as well. The needs of my family must be met through our home education. I’ve also found that the more confident I am, the better our overall family experience will be.
You don’t have to be like anyone else- just be who you are. Find your own niche philosophy, your favorite resources, jump in and get involved, and surround yourself with like-minded folks who don’t mind sharing the journey with you!
Do this, and you’ll have a homeschool that completely reflects you and your family. And hopefully, you’ll enjoy the journey.