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Many of us are gearing up for a new school year, so I wanted to pass along three quick tips that will help you have a successful year of homeschooling.
Tip #1: Plan for Variety
We all know how tedious life can become when we’re stuck in a rut, performing the same tasks in the same way at the same time every day. When Charlotte Mason said that “Education is a Life,” she did not mean that kind of a life.
“Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time.”School Education, p. 170
One of the key identifiers of a Charlotte Mason-style school is the variety of subjects that the students get to enjoy. So along with the usual studies, plan to include variety in your schedule: singing, picture study, nature walks, poetry, art, music study, Shakespeare, handicrafts, dancing, foreign language.
Don’t try to crowd every subject into every day. Instead, take advantage of the vast array of options to add variety throughout your week. One or two different subjects tucked into the mix each day will go a long way toward keeping things fresh and spreading a delightful feast of ideas!
Give your students a wide variety of subjects. That’s Tip #1.
Tip #2: Shop with Purpose
Just as it is difficult to complete a building project without the proper tools, it is well nigh impossible to have a successful homeschool year without the right resources. Make sure you end up with a stack of useful resource tools as you do your school shopping. Shop with purpose.
Ask these four questions to identify which resources will be the most useful to you in your upcoming year.
- Will this resource help me reach my goals?
If you haven’t already done so, take some time to map out what you want to cover this year and what your goals are for each child.
- Will this resource help me meet a legal requirement?
Make sure you know what is required in your state or province and gather whatever is needed to comply.
- Does this resource agree with my personal standards?
Read the labels. Peruse the samples. Make sure you are comfortable with the resource before you buy it.
- Is this resource a good fit for my family during this season of life?
Situations change. One beauty of homeschooling is that you can adjust your schedule, approach, and resources to fit whatever situation you are facing. Choose what will work best now.
Oh, and one more reminder: Just because a resource is expensive, doesn’t meant it will solve all your problems. On the flip side, just because a resource is free, doesn’t mean it will help you reach your goals.
Gather your resources with purpose. That’s Tip #2.
Tip #3: Flex with Life
Get it in your head right from the start: life happens. You may have a pretty new planner filled with neat little assignments that fit so perfectly and look so nice. But keep your eraser nearby, because you’re going to need it.
And that’s okay. In fact, that’s good.
You have the freedom to make adjustments along the way. Flexibility is a huge benefit to homeschooling. Be ready to flex in these three ways (at least).
- Adjust the pace of the curriculum to accommodate your child. Adjust the content as needed too. Just because the book says to spend four lessons on learning the +5s, doesn’t mean you will. Some children will already know them; move on. Some children (like my special needs daughter) will need months to learn them. Stay flexible. Teach the child, not the curriculum.
- Adjust your schedule to accommodate changing circumstances. Life happens. Families move; parents need care; work hours shift; plumbing backs up; health needs arise. Don’t be afraid to flex your schedule to reflect what will work best in those changes. In other words, don’t keep trying to use a square-peg schedule when the circumstance-hole has changed to a circle. Flex with life.
- Embrace life lessons. You can’t force growth to happen on your timetable. Yes, it’s good to have a plan. But don’t hold so tightly to that plan that you miss the passing opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes the best growth happens outside the classroom. Go with it.
You see, success in homeschooling is not about checking off assignments on the dates that the calendar dictates. True education is all about developing a person to be the best that he or she can be. And a goal with that magnitude requires flexibility.
Encourage that kind of growth in the year ahead with a broad spectrum of interesting studies, tools that will help you reach your goals, and a calm certainty of what is most important. I think those three ideas will help you have a successful year.
A Flexible Planning Tool
By the way, if you are looking for a planner that will flex with you as life happens (and eliminate the need for an eraser), check out the CM Organizer. This online planner, designed especially for those using the Charlotte Mason method, is built on a different principle than most. It’s designed to operate on a “what’s next” mentality.
Think of the CM Organizer like a Pez dispenser. Have you seen one of those? They dispense candy one piece at a time. The CM Organizer dispenses assignments one at a time. You fill up the dispenser with the books you want to read, the artists you want to study, and the poems you want to enjoy, and the CM Organizer feeds you those assignments one at a time.
If you complete an assignment, it will feed you the next one. If you don’t get to an assignment, it will patiently stay there until you’re ready to move on. No pressure. No due dates. No lists of assignments for weeks ahead. No “you’re a bad mommy” guilt trips.
Simply open it today to see what’s next.
Try the CM Organizer with a free Basic account and see how it feels to have your planner flex with life too.