Advice is a funny thing. It can be bad or good, solicited or not, freely given yet not willingly taken. Why should/would anyone care what I think? I don’t know.
As part of Sonlight’s March Blog party celebrating their 25th anniversary all year long we were asked to “Share the best homeschooling advice you have been given. What would you advise new homeschoolers?”
So for whatever it’s worth here’s advice from a homeschooling mother of 10 who has been homeschooling for 16+ years.
1. Each child is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalms 139:14)
Long, long ago a little girl taught me a huge lesson. One I have never forgotten and try to remember every single day. It applies not only to mothering but also to homeschooling. I was sitting at the kids’ table trying to teach my four year old daughter Marie about addition. She was frustrated because she didn’t understand what I was trying to explain. I was disheartened because it was something easy and she wasn’t getting it. I said, “Marie, why don’t you get this? It’s easy! Eve got it the very first time I showed her.”
Marie got off her chair, stood with her hands on her hips, and boldly declared, “Mom, I am not Eve. I am Marie! I am me and I am different!”
I looked at this cute little girl with her hair in pig-tails, her mouth in a perfect little pout, hands on her hips as she stared me down and I couldn’t help but scoop her up onto my lap. “You are right, Marie! You are different from Eve. You look different. You like different things. You think differently too. I am so sorry for trying to make you be just like Eve.” We put the math away and did something else instead. It was the best piece of advice I received when starting out on our homeschooling journey. Thank goodness for the tenacity and spunk of my precious little girl!
See the differences in your children and embrace them. Realize that God made them a certain way, with distinct talents and abilities for their specific mission in life. Be aware that what works for one child may not work for another. Get to know each of your children individually. How do they learn best? What are their interests?
Define your child’s attributes in positive tones, changing their stubbornness to determination, short-fused temperament to passionate.
2. Enjoy the now.
Whatever stage of life you are in, enjoy it! My mother-in-law gave me this advice years ago when I had six children under the age of eight. It was hard! I was overwhelmed by all the little bodies constantly needing my attention. It was also the one time in life when they all loved me unconditionally, weren’t comparing me to other mothers, and were thinking I was the best thing in the world. Savor those moments!
All to soon those little ones are more independent, seeking help and advice from outside sources. These are moments to relish as well. They are spreading their wings and testing the knowledge you have helped them learn.
On sick days, on moody days, on the nothing-else-can-possibly-go-wrong days, appreciate that these too will pass and help you enjoy the grand days even more.
Don’t hurry up your children’s growing up. Adore every tea party, every sword fight. Delight in the exploding homemade volcanoes and squishy mud pies. You will not regret taking the time to slow down and savor every minute with your children.
3. Read aloud every day.
I haven’t kept track but I’m pretty sure at least half of our homeschooling has occurred on the couch with children surrounding me while I nursed the baby. Usually I was reading a book aloud to keep the kids engaged and in eye-sight. If we did nothing else that day but read aloud together I felt like we still accomplished something in their school work. What lessons were learned from the hardworking Ingalls, the efficient Gilbreths, and the lovely innocence of Just David!
You do not need to teach every single subject every single day. You don’t need the latest curriculum or gadgets. You don’t need to do every holiday craft that shows up on pinterest. You also don’t need to spend eight hours a day doing “school.” Finish by lunchtime if you can so your children have the whole afternoon to explore new interests, the great outdoors, reading on their own for fun, and just playing and being a child.
5. Take Time to Renew and Recharge Yourself
Homeschooling is demanding.
Motherhood is demanding.
Combine the two together and what do you get?
Wonderful demanding days full of teaching, snuggling, cooking, reading, guiding, serving and nurturing. In the midst of all the good things we do each day we may think ourselves to be selfish if we do not say yes to every worthy cause that comes our way. Yet the Savior himself would sometimes withdraw temporarily from the pressing needs of the multitudes (see, for example, Luke 5:16). Surely, this helped Him serve others with renewed strength. Taking the example of the Savior then, we too must sometimes withdraw temporarily from the pressing needs of the multitudes (our children, our family) in order to renew our strength to better serve them. We can not draw water from an empty well!
So what do I do to recharge? (all these are done by myself – no children allowed)
Peruse the library (we don’t have any bookstores in our small town). Visit a friend. Take a long walk (over an hour). Window shop. Dates with my husband. Garden. Blog. These are the things besides the daily prayer and scripture reading that keep me functioning and happy.
Find something you enjoy and take a little time to recharge your batteries. For me I usually need to take some major time once a week. For you the need may be more or less. Whatever your need, it is okay to take that time to recharge! What you do to recharge will be different from what I do. And that’s okay too!
Now I ask you. “Share the best homeschooling advice you have been given. What would you advise new homeschoolers?”