In my previous post – F-Words to Avoid in Homeschooling, I shared my thoughts about some of the negative attitudes and approaches to homeschooling that I struggled with during my years of teaching my daughters from preschool to high school graduation.
This week, I would like to encourage some positive F-word attitudes and practices that will create a wonderful homeschooling experience for you and your children.
- FAITH – It takes faith to believe that you can homeschool your children. It requires faith to work through the struggles, doubts and fears. I prayed often for each of my children. I needed God’s word and leading and wisdom in my approach. We prayed together each day, especially when the children were young.
- FLEXIBLE – Being inflexible will always lead to unmet expectations, disappointments, stress and exhaustion. Life happens. Your family is unique and your plans will not always work out. Stay flexible and learn to find your rhythm. It is fairly easy to catch up if children were too tired or were sick. In the grand scheme of things, when real life is “interrupting” your plans, real learning and character formation happen when we learn to adjust and adapt.
- FULL – Offer your children a “full” education. Include a wide range of subjects, projects, activities and approaches as well as the basics. I used daily themes to include all the “extra” subjects such as Fine Arts, art lessons, music appreciation, poetry, Shakespeare, Latin, Current Events, and Nature Study. Of course, I don’t advise over-full days! Beware of taking on too many extramural activities, too many sports trips and outings each week. Give your children free time at home to have hobbies, to play, to read, to be bored. These are the moments your children will discover their passions and interests.
- FEAST – Your children’s education should be like a wonderful buffet table full of options, opportunities and choices. Offer your children different hands-on activities, give them an opportunity to dig in deep when a topic sparks a flame of interest. Follow them on these rabbit trails and encourage reading, videos and meeting real people in these areas of interest. May I say that this is an essential benefit of homeschooling? You’re not like a school teacher, limited to a specific number of days on a topic in the curriculum — you can tailor-make your child’s learning to meet their passions and interests.
- FRESH – Keep things fresh by changing their learning environment for each new theme and topic. Display new posters, and have new library books open and on display. Hang mobiles and place objects of interest on the bookshelf. Regularly change your children’s own art and projects displays. Use different options for narrations instead of asking them to simply tell back what they learnt. I have over 100 narration ideas in this eBook that will equip you with fun, new and fresh ideas.
- FUN – Remember to have fun! Play fun music, sing songs and move together. Regularly go outside and spend time together in nature, have picnics in the garden, on the trampoline, at the pool, under a tree. Read aloud in a tent, in a fort, even under a table. Dress up and play-act the story, do puppet shows, eat foods described in the story. Watch suitable movies relating to the read alouds or themes. Young children especially need short lessons interspersed with physical release activities and they love action songs. These are the moments that make a day feel good and, guess what, these are the moments that your children will never forget!
- FAMILY – Remember that homeschool is a family journey. It is important that you include dad in the day. Encourage family participation — go on family outings, read aloud at the dinner table, include grandparents in show-and-tell and at graduations. Your family is unique in its vision and therefore your homeschooling will look and feel different to another family using an identical curriculum.
- FAN – Be your child’s fan! Be their support, their encourager, their cheerleader. Be their facilitator and find ways to support and stimulate their interests and passions. Never underestimate the power of your positive input, even in their hobbies. Let them overhear your good reports. Build them up. Look for their positives and recognise their hard work as well as their achievements.
- FLOW – Find your daily rhythm and flow. Adjust your schedule to suit your family’s most focussed and attentive times in the day. Avoid disruptions, distractions and interruptions for yourself = put your cellphone away! Keep your lessons short and sweet so that the work flows quickly and effectively. Then take your time with read alouds and projects. Also, note, some days will flow better than other days. In my many years of experience, I discovered that there are usually only 2 days in a week that flow effortlessly, but in those days, we covered more work and completed activities with joy and simplicity.
- FINISH – There is much to be said for perseverance! Commit to finishing what you start in your homeschooling. Stay the course. Of course, there will be times when you want to give up, but there is such a blessing in holding on, keeping on going and making it through to the success at the end. You will need encouragement to turn frowns upside down. There will be many mornings where you will need prayer and faith to motivate yourself. You will need to address issues and encourage your children to press on, keep trying and give their very best. Finishing does not need to be dogmatic and fundamental, especially when your homeschooling does not fit and when relationships suffer because of the struggles. That is when you should stop and reassess and figure out the best way forward. There are times when it is important to put an unsuitable book or awkward curriculum aside that doesn’t gel. I am suggesting that in order to finish what you are committed to, you will need to be resolute about your family vision in order to see it come to fruition.
May these F-words encourage and motivate you in your homeschooling journey. Please encourage others and share your experiences with us in the comments.