Tips to success
Schedule Your Homeschool Day
You have a vision for homeschooling. You've discovered how your child likes to learn. You've even found the perfect curriculum, but what about your daily homeschool schedule? How does that look? How can you fit in grocery shopping, cooking meals, and house cleaning while teaching your children academics?
Having a flexible but well-ordered homeschooling schedule brings a sense of accomplishment and peace. To maintain your sanity, here are some practical guidelines to follow when organizing your homeschool day. You'll soon discover that because God created each family unique, there is no perfect one-answer-fits-all homeschooling schedule. However, many experienced homeschool parents have learned these helpful secrets to make scheduling a homeschooling day easier.
Twelve Secrets to Scheduling Success
Strive to start school at the same time each day and don't set yourself up for failure with too many activities and unrealistic expectations.
Turn off your TV and phone when you start homeschooling and don't return calls until the lessons are done.
Save more intense, one-on-one instruction time with older children while little ones are napping or ask relatives and friends to watch your toddlers.
Schedule Bible, math, and language arts (reading, writing, and spelling) earlier in the day when your children are still fresh. Save more time-consuming, hands-on projects (history, science, and art) until the afternoon.
Coordinate individualized teaching with one child while the other children work independently or read. For instance, when presenting a new math concept to your 3rd grader, have your 7th grader read his history lesson for the day on his own. Also, take advantage of unit studies which make scheduling easier when homeschooling multiple children in different grade levels.
Evaluate your family and be flexible to adjust your schedule as you see a pattern that works best. Realize that your children learn better with schedules and feel safer and more in control when they know what to expect each day.
Decide what household chores need to be done each day and assign responsibilities to each child. You can then schedule 30 - 45 minutes twice a day for tidying the house and/or doing tasks. Chore charts with reward stickers are a great way to encourage younger children to complete their work.
Make a list of outside activities (errands, medical/dental appointments, field trips, homeschool co-op groups, music lessons, library visits, etc.) that your family will participate in that week and include them on your calendar.
Assign a time and/or day of the week for each individual subject, including start and end times. (Be sure to include core subject areas like Bible, math, history and geography, language arts, and science.)
Schedule time for daily meal preparation and clean up, along with time for any other breaks.
Don't compare your family to other homeschooling families. Schedules are meant to help your family accomplish your goals, not the goals of someone else.
Keep moving and don't lose your focus. Even if interruptions and distractions cause your lesson plans to fall apart before 9 a.m., regroup and accomplish what you can for the remainder of the day.
"Let all things be done decently and in order"
— 1 Corinthians 14:40.
Remember, many states have homeschooling laws that require a certain number of hours or days of homeschooling each year. Be sure that your schedule meets those requirements, recognizing that many activities and hobbies your children enjoy outside of "official" schooling hours can also be considered homeschooling, such as part-time jobs (work study), volunteer work (civics), and sports (physical education).
ABCs of the Best Homeschool Curriculum
Wondering what's the best homeschool curriculum Christian parents can use to successfully educate their child? If you're like most homeschool parents, you probably spend countless hours researching different products to find the perfect resource to improve your homeschooling experience. Although quality, Christian homeschool materials do provide excellent academic learning opportunities, you may be surprised to learn the best homeschool curriculum is actually YOU! That's right! Like a living, 3-D textbook, your life is constantly on display and "read" daily by your child. Therefore, with such a great responsibility to influence your child's education, what attitudes and actions should be consistently shown in your life as a Christian homeschooling parent? Consider the following ABCs to successful homeschooling:
A – Attentive. Be sensitive to your child's "learning edge" and customize your curriculum to meet his interests. Use the benefits of one-on-one interaction to make the most of your teaching time.
B – Brave. Be ready to face the challenges from those who question your decision to homeschool. Going against the educational flow will require strength of character to "speak the truth in love."
C – Christ-like. With Jesus Christ at the center of your homeschool, let the Holy Spirit guide you through the work that lies ahead in teaching your children.
D – Disciplined. Be willing to submit to God's authority and live in obedience to His Word.
E – Enthusiastic. Love learning yourself and your children will love to learn, too.
F – Friendly. No man is an island. Develop relationships with other homeschooling families. Not only will your children appreciate the social interaction, but you will also enjoy the encouragement from other home school parents.
G – Grateful. Teaching your children is a privilege. Be thankful with a humble spirit.
H – Hardworking. Determine to complete the endless, daily tasks of maintaining a home and homeschooling your children.
I – Ingenious. Creative thinking is a must to keep learning fun and inspirational.
J – Jolly. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). Have fun when you're teaching and learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes.
K – Kind. Let your speech and actions show the tender love of Christ. After all, it takes just as much energy to say and do something nice as it does to do something mean.
L – Long-suffering. Homeschooling is a life-long adventure with lasting benefits. It's always too early to quit!
M – Mushy. When it comes to homeschooling children, sincere words of appreciation, hugs, and kisses are always a good idea.
N – Neat. As much as possible, keep your home clean and tidy.
O – Organized. Keep up with lesson plans, grading, and transcripts to meet state requirements.
P – Professional. Since homeschooling is God's job for you, work to the best of your ability and don't let a half-hearted approach ruin your homeschooling day.
Q – Quiet. Your calm spirit provides the peaceful learning environment your children need to learn best.
R – Respectful. Never make fun of your children. Remember that every question is a good question, no matter how many you answer each day.
S – Smiley. Let God's love be reflected in a happy face. Smiles are contagious.
T – Teachable. Teachers never know it all, so keep learning right along with your children.
U – Unselfish. Share all that you have to help your children succeed. The rewards always outweigh the costs.
V – Virtuous. Be a truthful homeschooling parent who displays integrity in thought, word, and deed. Mean what you say and do what you promise.
W – Worshipful. Show your children how to come before a holy God as you sing and give praise for the many blessings in your life.
X – EXemplary. – Since children learn best by example, you are the best homeschool curriculum they'll ever have!
Y – Youthful. Stay young at heart and never grow too old to play with your children.
Z – Zealous. Protect your homeschooling rights. Defend the cause by keeping informed and getting involved in your state's political process.
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Does the thought of keeping track of worksheets, projects, tests, grades, lesson plans, report cards, and transcripts send chills up your spine? Do you wonder if educational records are worth the time and effort they require? You may not like the answer, but it is "yes." Recordkeeping in your homeschool is very important for the following reasons:
Keepsakes - Journaling your homeschooling activities allows you to preserve memories of special occasions and record favorite learning moments throughout the year.
Report cards - When it comes to high school diplomas for college entrance and scholarships or the unexpected need for your children to return to private and/or public school, report cards maintain a reference list of completed courses and accompanying grades to smooth the acceptance or transition experience. (Note: If you're transitioning to homeschooling from a traditional school, ask for your child's cumulative file from the school that was previously attended.)
Goal setting - Tracking your children's educational progress is easier with daily, weekly, and monthly planners that remind you of current and future goals. Plus, you'll have a better idea of where to focus your energy.
Legal records - Many states have homeschooling laws that require families to present school district officials with attendance, portfolios, grades, and/or other forms that document academic achievements and activities.
Because your recordkeeping is the only available proof of your child's education, it's wise to keep detailed records from the very beginning. Don't forget to give credit for any extracurricular learning activities, including educational games, letter writing, field trips, art, discussions, educational TV programs, and DVDs, as well as everyday learning experiences like cooking, cleaning, and budgeting.
When logging lesson plans, many homeschoolers use what's affordable and convenient, like inexpensive weekly or monthly planners. (Note: A great time to log your weekly goals for each child and their subjects is Saturday morning when kids sleep in or Sunday evening before the start of the next week. Although charting a month's worth of lessons at one time seems more expedient, be prepared to erase and change your entries due to unforeseen events that arise and change your plans.)
Homeschool parents can also take advantage of today's technology and do their recordkeeping with user-friendly computer software or teach with homeschool computer-based curriculum (like Monarch and Switched-On Schoolhouse) that contains built-in calendars, automatic grading, and reporting features.
Another popular option for recordkeeping is maintaining an organized portfolio (a collection of items that showcases what your child has learned). Items to place in the portfolio might include:
A record of books read by your child
Samples of your child's work in each subject area
Report cards with quarterly/semester/yearly grades
Attendance records (A wall calendar works well.)
Health and immunization records
Correspondence with school district officials
Assessment tests or standardized testing
Photo albums of field trips, artwork, projects, and family life
Course of study (scope and sequence) for each subject taught & the curriculum resources being used to teach each subject
Reports on extracurricular activities like field trips, volunteer work, and part-time jobs
Like your homeschooling schedule, you may need to re-evaluate and simplify your recordkeeping process so it doesn't rob too much time from your day. Keep in mind that recordkeeping works best if you stay consistent with the approach to learning that your family has chosen. Most of all, remember that homeschooling is a choice, and recordkeeping is a small but very important part of that choice.
Take the next step: Meet our global community
Alpha Omega Publications® strongly encourages homeschoolers to participate in local homeschool support groups! What is a homeschool support group? Support groups may be clubs, co-operatives, or associations that have their own, unique characteristics.
Next step: MEET OUR GLOBAL COMMUNITY