The follow is a post from contributing writer Megan Spires from House of the Rising Sons.
Like many of you, this is the time of year when we spend time planning and preparing for the homeschool year ahead. I’m also taking time to reflect back on what worked well for us and what really didn’t.
In my experience, it’s nearly impossible to separate my mom role from the role I have as teacher to my kids. So, my mind has also been centered around ways I can be better prepared to be BOTH Mom and Teacher to my kids, simultaneously.
1. Prepared Heart: My very first priority is to make sure my heart is well prepared for school this year. Instead of starting our year off with lots of momentum and excitement that slowly dwindles, I want to parent and teach my boys out of the overflow of my heart, not out of the feeling I may have because of our circumstances of the day.
2. Home Ec: Just like my roles, I am forever trying to figure out how to merge and blend home management (chores) with homeschooling. It’s taken me some time to realize this, but because homeschooling is a lifestyle, it really isn’t separate from anything else we do. So, this year, I’m embracing the call to include Home Ec in our homeschooling days. Angie, founder of The Homeschool Classroom, has written a book all about this and I intend to read it.
3. Service Projects: We often tend to focus our service projects around the holidays. And when we do, I notice an immediate change in my kids’ hearts and attitudes. So, I’d like to begin thinking of ways to serve others ALL YEAR long and even including them as part of our lessons. Serving others is the best way to squash those selfish attitudes and desires (both mine and theirs).
4. Bucket Lists: Every Summer we take a break of sorts, this year included. And every year, I am thankful for the amazing Summer Bucket Lists that grace the pages of my favorite blogs. There are so many great ideas, and many of our own, that I’m never able to get to by the end of our break. Then I had an Ah Ha moment…why do we come up with these incredible lists and only use them during the Summer? I declare that Bucket Lists shall be used all year long in our home. What a great resource for field trips, unit studies, weekend activities and fun things to do with Dad!
5. Love Language: I love the book, The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. Each one of our kids is wired completely different from the next. What motivates one does not motivate the other. They each have their own learning styles and yes, their own love languages. Our children love, and receive love, in their own unique ways. It’s got me thinking that their love languages and learning styles are connected in some way.
For instance, one of my sons’ love languages is definitely “gifts”. He loves to give and receive gifts. So, part of his lessons often include making cards (spelling/grammar) for family and friends. And I make sure to treat him with small gifts to show my love to him. One of our other sons’ love language is “words of affirmation”, so taking time to praise his effort and compliment him fills his tank and encourages him.
6. Lapbooking – Modified: My boys enjoy lapbooks but not as much as I do. However, we always have a pile of various sized cardboard waiting to go in the recycle bin that they love to use for all kinds of fun projects.
Why couldn’t we super size our lapbooks and really make them come to life? We could create cardboard swords and castles with flaps revealing the history of knighthood in the Middle Ages. And then, we could use cardboard to make a knight’s armor and add flaps to label the Full Armor of God.
7. Look for the Joy: Not every day in a homeschooler’s life will be easy. On those not-so-easy-days, we’re faced with two choices; look for Joy despite our circumstances or flee with our kids to the nearest distraction to keep the peace. I’ve been know to be a flight risk, grabbing my boys and going somewhere else to pass the time and keep everyone happy.
But really, those aren’t the sort of lessons I want to teach them. I want to look for and find Joy, even in the most trying situations and in the most mundane of days, because there is Joy if we look for it.
8. Communication Journals for Kids: Often, I wonder if there are things my kids are thinking about that they’d like to talk about, but don’t know how. So this year, I’m putting together special journals for my two oldest sons. The idea is that we will dialogue back and forth with written words and drawings about anything on our hearts and minds. I’m hoping it’ll be a great way to further the lines of communication and an opportunity for their Dad and I to uplift and encourage them in all they do and learn.
9. Busy Box:One of my sons, especially, is one of those kids that just needs to have something to do all the time. He does not do well with down time. Often, this is a problem when I have things I just need to get done and he wants my help finding something for him to do.
Enter, the Homeschool Busy Box. I’m creating a special box filled with all kinds of “Mom, what can I do?’ solutions. I’ll rotate 5 or so fun and engaging things to work on when we’re not engaged in lessons. I’ll also include these amazing Fun Sticks, 150 things for kids to do, that Amy of Teach Mama came up with to fight boredom.
10. DIY Planner:And this is the project that is ever present on my mind as we head into another homeschool year. Last year, I was completely disorganized and we struggled because of it. To fix this problem, I’ve created a Homeschool and Blogging Planner that is already proving to be helpful in so many ways.
Megan writes about her amazing journey raising and homeschooling four little men while sharing her faith at House of the Rising Sons.