Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

When the School Year Starts Out Messy

Ever have one of those years when the school year just starts out messy? I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but if you haven’t yet, you probably will. The good news is that if you follow the three “R’s”, you can pick back up and have success!

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Messy starts

Birth. Death. Hurricanes. Sickness. Relocation. Bad Attitudes. Poor Curriculum. Chaos. Clutter. Misfortune.

Do any of those things sound familiar? I have not dealt with all of those things, but several of them, I have. I originally posted this in 2018, when we had one of the worst hurricanes hit our area. Just ten days into our new school year that year, we were smacked by Florence.  This was not the kind of hurricane that usually inconveniences us for a couple of days, where we clean up yard debris, pretend like we’re camping, and have fun with flashlights.  Florence devastated our small town, but we recovered.

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floating bear

There will always be things beyond our control that just happens. The year before the hurricane, my dad had heart surgery during our first two weeks of school. This year, my father-in-law (pop-pop) passed away not very long into our school year.  Perhaps you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, or a new addition to your family.  Some have started the year off with sickness.  Maybe an opportunity arose that required a move.  Sometimes even that great, new curriculum, turned out not so great.  Whatever it is, we’ve all needed a reset button to push when the unexpected happens.

Remember the three “R’s”

  • Reset (verb – to set again or anew). Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reset button in life? Well, with homeschooling we kind of do. We are the ones who can control the “out of control” when it happens. We don’t need a doctor’s note, an approval, or some other sort of permission slip to make a change, or to excuse an absence. When it comes to homeschooling, we’re the boss, applesauce!
  • Realign (verb – to bring into line again). When regaining control of the mess, it’s time to revisit your purpose and goals. Why do you homeschool? What do you hope to accomplish through this experience? What can you change to make it better and reach your goals?
  • Restart (verb – to start anew, to resume). Isn’t it nice to have the flexibility to start from scratch, or resume what we’re doing with a new focus? Even when we have to go back to the beginning, a restart does not mean behind. That is one of the top questions asked by doubters, right behind socialization. I recommend returning the question with a question. Behind who? Let them figure it out as you move forward.

Five tips to get back on track

  • First and foremost, take the time your family needs. I will say it again, don’t worry about falling behind. Whatever the change may be, whether it be delight, grief, a time out, a do-over, whatever – these are the life lessons that will be remembered, and the ones that count the most! Depending on the situation that has gotten things out of order, you can move on and make adjustments as necessary at the right time. It may be a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks – it’s okay!
  • Perhaps you need a schedule, or as I like to call it “a flow of the day”. Things will go much more smoothly when there’s some structure to the day. You will find a few ideas of things and methods we have tried in this post.
  • Check your blueprints. I highly recommend this book. From laying the foundation with values, to choosing curriculum, Blueprint Homeschooling is a valuable resource that I have looked back on many times.
  • Scale back on outside activities. Most people I know who are struggling, are doing too much! Sports, co-ops, and even church can derail one’s homeschooling efforts. Really, little Johnny does not need to go to basketball practice several times a week. Ever. It may not be a good season to do “all the things”. Take a break! Those things will still be there next season.
  • Honor your school day. One of the things that has gotten me off track more than the big things are the small distractions. The phone, social media, the “hey, let’s go to the park, or have lunch”. I’m all for spontaneity, but it can crash your homeschool day. While I equate “school” with “life”, saying yes to every opportunity will leave you frazzled, and worse, it will short change your kids. Just because you are home everyday, does not mean you are available to everyone at any time. Don’t let neighbors or friends take advantage of that. Your “workday” is just as important as anyone else working outside the home. Really, it’s more important. Perhaps you may find it beneficial to set your own “work hours” when you are teaching, and let it be known that you are not available to babysit, make a casserole, or run an errand until your workday is finished.

Messy starts mean happy endings

What’s really awesome (even the not-so-awesome things), is that homeschoolers get a front row seat to life. The good and the bad. The most important tidbit I can leave you with is DON’T GIVE UP! You are enough, and if you’re not feeling like you are, the alternatives sure as hell aren’t! Not even close! One of the things that helped me through the messy parts is having the mindset that there is no other option. Messy starts will pass, and as someone who is nearly finished, you will be so glad your family stuck it out. Promise. Now go have a fantastic year!

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