Mom-to-Mom Support/A Simple Recipe for Success: Ten Steps to Stress-Free Homeschooling

Ten Steps to Stress-Free Homeschooling

Parent and child baking together

While we all know that reducing stress is a good idea, often we feel that things must be strenuous to be effective. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, thought that school had to be complicated to be successful? In a sincere desire to ensure academic success, we might overlook the simple and straightforward approach. But especially for new homeschoolers, overcomplicating things can lead to burnout that destroys a home’s peace and children’s love of learning. Stress-free homeschooling, on the other hand, can be incredibly effective and fun.

The good news is that the recipe for success is gloriously simple. Here are ten simple steps to a stress-free homeschooling experience.

1. Start with the Core Kit

Particularly for first-year homeschoolers, it is usually best to stick to the basics. This way, the students will cover all the key subjects while the teacher learns the ropes and the family as a whole settles into its homeschool routine. There will be plenty of time later to add on nonessential subjects. You can view core and non-core subjects by picking a grade on this page.

2. Use lesson plans

Lesson plans save preparation time and eliminate the uncertainty of that pit-in-the-stomach question: Am I covering all that needs to be covered? CHC daily lesson plans highlight core subjects such as math, reading, religion, and science for those who wish to begin with the basics, but they also schedule non-core materials, such as art and handwriting, which can be added gradually as the family “picks up speed” toward implementing a full schedule. You may also decide you love the simplicity of lesson plans and want to continue using them throughout your homeschooling—many families do—but you will certainly find that they ease the transition into homeschooling.

3. Don’t add or substitute

If you are stressed and confused by decisions about what and how much to teach, it is helpful to stick with the materials scheduled in the lesson plans. Adding or substituting subjects increases the expense, preparation time, and workload. Beware of trying to gain an extra inch by switching out materials in a certain subject only to lose miles in terms of organization and clarity. The lesson plans are complete and thorough without additions. On the other hand, if a child is ahead or behind in a certain subject, it is simple to go up or down a grade level in that subject and still retain a workable schedule.

4. Follow directions

Carefully read the lesson plans and any teacher’s guides, introductions, and directions contained in the materials. Wait to carry out instructions until you’ve read them all the way through—this will save you valuable time misunderstanding and redoing. Homeschooling success is so much easier to attain when this very simple piece of advice is followed.

5. Don’t compare your children

Whether that is to one another or to children outside the family, it is best not to compare them. This creates a fear of “being behind” and, too often, unhealthy estimations of their own worth. Remember that God creates each child with his own identity, complete with different talents and abilities from anyone else. Children in public school are rarely exactly at grade level in every subject; it is not uncommon for children to be a few grades ahead in one or more subjects and a few grades behind in a few subjects, too. Homeschooled children are no different in this regard. However, the significant difference between the two settings is that homeschooled children can move ahead at their own pace, profiting from their areas of strength and receiving immediate, personally tailored instruction for those areas in which they lag.

Homeschool parent helps teenage girl with schoolwork

6. Avoid burnout

An easy way to prevent burnout is by remembering that you have around thirteen years to educate your children. Not only is it impossible to fit everything from those thirteen years into one or two, but also it isn’t necessary. One of the most frequent causes of burnout is the tendency to add extra assignments and to expect too much too soon. Just as you focus on one daily task at a time in order to do it well, focus on one year, one month, one week, and even one day at a time to educate your children well. You can learn more about homeschool burnout—and how to avoid it—in this article.

7. Discipline

If children don’t listen or mind outside of homeschooling, they won’t listen or mind during homeschooling. It is impossible to succeed at homeschooling without discipline. If a family is having discipline issues, all academics should be put on hold until peace has been regained in the home. “Discipline: The Five C’s to a Happy Home” offers some discipline tips that might be helpful.

8. Praise

A teacher should praise at least twice as much as he or she corrects. Point out, and applaud your children for, the good points and improvement in their work before suggesting corrections or further improvements. For instance, note first the number of math problems that the child got right rather than the reverse. Recognize and praise the child for the progress he has made in the past weeks or months.

9. Pray

Take time each day for personal prayer, and begin each school day with a simple prayer for wisdom, guidance, and the desire to use skills learned to help others and for the glory of God. Whenever problems in the homeschool loom large, take a moment for silent prayer and remind yourself that God’s plans are not yours, and He is more powerful than the problem!

10. Relax

Thanks be to God, our children have many years to learn! With homeschooling, there is no end date, no “ahead,” and no “behind;” learning is a life-long process fostered by caring parents. Take photos and create a brief written record of those “ooh and ahh” moments. Keep a portfolio of the year’s activities (and a collection of best papers), so you can look back on all the happy times, surrounded by evidence of your children’s progress and satisfying memories of the ways that God has shaped each of you and put you together in a family.

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