The first month of homeschooling, especially for new homeschoolers, can be challenging. Sometimes the carefully laid out plans of summer seem to go awry in the face of actually teaching the main lesson material to your children. Here are a few tips to keep the new homeschooling year on an even keel.
Most homeschooling parents have a good idea of what they hope to accomplish with a child in a given main lesson block and are eager to proceed. Summer break has been a great out breath for everyone. When implementing a main lesson plan after the summer, however, it is often necessary to review skills from the previous year before plunging into the new material. You will quickly find out, especially in areas like math and language arts, how much your child has remembered and internalized. Brush up and review skills as necessary so that the new main lesson material will be presented on a firm foundation.
- FAMILY RHYTHM
During the first month of homeschooling, it may take some time to adjust to a good homeschooling rhythm after the summer break. This is natural. However, if you don’t find your family moving into a harmonious rhythm after two to three weeks, then the family rhythm needs to be examined. Are there too many extra curricular activities outside the home? Are the children unable to do their daily help around the house in a reasonable way? Do they or you seem unusually fatigued or upset? Is anyone overly resistant or reluctant to homeschool? These are all signs that the family rhythm needs to be adjusted. Look carefully at the transition points in the day and see where things can flow more easily. Try to balance each day with in breath and out breath activities so the children feel balanced within themselves.
- PACE AND ORDER
This point is closely linked to rhythm but it has more to do with fine tuning the actual pace of a homeschooling lesson as well as organizing the materials needed for the lesson. Make sure that you have a clear outline of the main lesson month and week in hand. Be sensitive to how the previous week of homeschooling went and fine tune and make changes in next week’s presentation to be more effective. Don’t try to race through a lesson to “catch up”. Go at the pace that works for you and your child. Even with a two day homeschooling rhythm, children need to sleep on and internalize material overnight. This is still true with older children in areas like science.
Also check that all your supplies for a main lesson are available and easy to access and put away neatly. The room where you teach should be well organized, even if that space is the kitchen table!
- BE FLEXIBLE
Sometimes the order or content of a main lesson needs to be changed. If something isn’t working, then be flexible enough to look at it closely and see what needs to be shifted. Perhaps it is just a passing moment. However, it could be that the approach to the material needs to be adjusted to better fit you and your child. This is especially true when teaching multiple children. It could also be that the order of main lessons in your yearly schedule needs to be adjusted to fit the realities of your current homeschooling schedule. Being flexible enough to make changes while still creating a predictable and harmonious family rhythm is one of the great challenges and skills of successful homeschooling.
I wish you all a peaceful and productive homeschooling year.
Barbara Benson is the mother of five homeschooled children, the youngest of whom is currently (2011) a sixth grader. Barbara has had a long and fruitful relationship to Waldorf education, as she has sought to adapt it to her home and to the needs of her very different children - who include a pair of twins and two girls adopted from China. She has worked with Rahima Baldwin and Barbara Dewey. She is also very involved in the general homeschooling scene, and has worked as a volunteer homeschooling liaison for the state of Indiana. You can read more about Barbara and our consulting services here.