To homeschool… or not to homeschool?
That is the question.
I’m sorry to say this blog post isn’t going to answer that specific question above. But what I will do, is answer other frequent questions that you just may be wondering about. Like, the struggles with homeschool, knowing when your curriculum isn’t working, and how I handle when everybody needs mom at the same time!
I had planned to do this blog post as a You Tube video but apparently God had other plans…. if you follow me on Instagram you know what I am talking about. I tried for 3 days to get my video to upload but with rural internet (or lack there of) and computer problems, it just wouldn’t load. So I hope you enjoy reading the answers to all the questions, instead of watching!
The questions that I am answering came from a question box I put up in my Instagram stories. With everything going on, it seemed I was getting many questions on homeschool so I decided to do a Q & A and try and answer some of them.
Make sure to follow along on Instagram for every day life here on the ranch!
Now let’s get started….
1. What curriculum would you use for Kindergarten and what curriculum do you use in general?
These two questions I just put together since they are both about curriculum.
I have done an in depth video on my curriculum choices for the 2021/2022 school year a couple months ago and you can find that here, but here is the short version….
I highly recommend using The Good and The Beautiful for both Language Arts/Literature and Math. I was told about this curriculum halfway through our first year of homeschool and it completely changed our homeschool.
The ease of this curriculum, the zero prep work for mom, and the short/simple lessons that are packed with information make this the perfect curriculum. I will hands down always recommend it, for those two subjects.
Now for Social Studies and Science we use Abeka. This is also a Christian based curriculum. It is not family style, so you will need to buy books for each grade you are teaching.
Please note, for kindergarten I would not recommend any formal curriculum for Social Studies and Science. I would in place do unit style studies where you read a lot of living books and do hands on experiences based on the child’s interests. My kindergartener wants all the bookwork her sisters have so we do a little 5 minute reading out of the Kindergarten Abeka Science and Social Studies.
2. How do you get littles to sit in a classroom setting and not act like it’s play time?
So this question has two parts to it… If you have a non-school aged child (younger then kindergarten) I used a “special school box” method. I had a box that was filled with items and things to do that my toddlers didn’t get unless it was school time! So when it was time to do school, they got their box of fun items to go through and play with. I switched out items as frequently as needed.
If you have a first time homeschooler (a kindergartener or up) here are my best tips to getting them used to schooling at home:
- make a routine and stick with it every school day so they can understand the difference between a school day and a non school day.
- remember homeschool is not traditional school. Move around, do school outside, on the couch, or in their rooms. It doesn’t just have to be a classroom setting.
- keep it simple and short. What you can pour into your children in 1 hour 1:1 is huge so remember less can definitely mean more when it comes to homeschool.
- for the brand new kindergarteners, practice “school time” before you even start your school year. So for example, tell your child the night before “tomorrow we are going to have a school day!” and then go over your routine with them. Do this a couple times within a week before you actually start. This can really help!
- Last but certainly not least… attitude is everything! If you are excited about doing school at home with them, they will too! I always find that on the days that are not going well, it usually is because I am grumpy. So my girls are grumpy too.
3. What are some struggles with homeschooling?
This one was tough because there is so much good in homeschooling! But of course it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine….
I would say one of my own personal biggest struggles is keeping homeschool a top priority. We have a working ranch/farm and grow/raise a lot of our own food. Which means we are really busy all the time. It would be so easy to skip school and get what I need done. But I know that’s not helping my girls.
I know, without a doubt, God called me to homeschool our girls. It was a calling I got many years ago. As years have gone on, I get more relaxed and my priorities slip a bit. So keeping this high calling a top priority is a must and sometimes that’s hard.
Another struggle I have is flexibility. One of the reasons we love homeschooling is because we love the flexibility and freedoms. BUT I like routine and schedules. So being flexible to waiver off our routine/schedule every once in a while is a good thing, but can be a struggle for me.
And finally the big FAT elephant in the room…. the many MANY hats that you have to wear is a struggle. Being wife, mom, teacher, cook, maid, and simply just ME is hard. It’s a struggle I think every homeschool mom goes through. But one thing is for certain, God gives us strength when we are weak. In areas we think we aren’t equipped to handle, He gives us all the tools we need. So take this calling joyfully! Pray a lot, show flexibility, and lastly give yourself a whole lot of grace.
4. How do you handle when two kids need your attention at the same time?
This is something we still struggle with. And I feel like it doesn’t matter how many years you have been homeschooling, this will always be a struggle that you have to deal with.
One of the things I have done from the very beginning is, “when it’s school time it’s time to learn! If your not ready to learn then go sit on your bed until you are.” I haven’t waivered from this and it seems to work pretty well.
The girls understand that the faster they get their school done, the sooner they are able to get outside and ride horses, play, or just do what they want to do. So if they are sitting on their bed not doing their work, the longer it will take to get it done.
This also helps because I always start school with the youngest child first, and then move up the line. If you are sitting on your bed and I am ready to work with you, you will get skipped and I won’t come back to you until the end. You don’t want to get skipped and have to finish well after everyone else!
This is how I have always handled it however please know I am not an expert. We still struggle with this just like every other homeschool family out there!
5. How do you complete all the math and spelling in books, if you want to have flexible weeks?
I have never had a problem with completing all our lessons by the beginning of April. I think this highly depends on the curriculum you are using though. With The Good and The Beautiful there is usually between 120-140 lessons for the year (depending on the level) so that can be done easily by April. This is with taking 1 week off for Thanksgiving, 3 weeks for Christmas, and 1 week for Spring Break.
I do always look at my curriculum in the summer time and see how many lessons there are for the year. Then I map it out so I have an idea of what week we should complete all our lessons on. This gives me an idea of how much wiggle room I have throughout our year to be flexible. It’s a little added work up front, to map it out and see, but worth it!
6. What do you do when your child is struggling and you aren’t getting along?
If one of my girls is struggling then we stop. We take a break and come back. If they are struggling all together with a specific concept then we stop completely (not moving on with any more lessons) and really focus on that one concept until it is mastered. This is where the mapping out your year comes in handy! You know how much wiggle room you have to stop lessons completely. There is no point in continuing on with lessons if a concept isn’t mastered!
If a child and I are not getting along I do the same method as before, “when it’s school time it’s time to learn! If you are not ready to learn, then go sit on your bed.” This really helps with not getting into huge power struggles right in the school room. I simply quietly say, “Looks like you are not ready to learn. Go ahead and leave the school room, come back when you are ready.” There is no set amount of time for how long they have to leave. They can come back at any time, as long as they are ready to learn!
7. What do you do when you think your curriculum isn’t working?
I am a firm believer of not curriculum hopping. I don’t believe anyone is learning well and you can never fully develop a good routine when you are constantly changing curriculum. However, there may come a time when your curriculum just isn’t working!
If every day is a struggle. If you feel like you are constantly floundering. If your kids and you are really stressed and dislike school, then there are two areas to check. One being your schedule and the next your curriculum.
Likely if you are feeling any of those feelings, it’s because you either need to tweak your schedule or you need to change your curriculum. I would highly recommend first prayerfully checking your schedule before changing curriculum. Maybe switching which subject you start with is the problem. Maybe you need to start school earlier or later. Maybe you need to take more breaks. Really look at your schedule and align where the struggles are happening in your schedule to see if that is the problem.
If you feel your schedule is working really well, then prayerfully look into your curriculum. I did a curriculum swap in the middle of my first year of homeschooling and it was the best decision! So it can be done and it can be great, but make sure you are thinking it all through first. And always remember, a few bad days doesn’t mean the curriculum isn’t working. Make sure to give the curriculum you have selected a good honest effort.
I hope this was helpful and I was able to answer some of the main homeschool questions most have. I love learning and growing in our homeschool on the ranch, and I love sharing what we have learned!