By nature, I seek out other people’s ideas. I am not overly creative on my own but I am an excellent tweaker. When I first began homeschooling, I thought this skill would benefit me. Though it has helped me out sometimes, it has given me more stress than anything else. Why is that? I love too many of other people’s ideas.
Here at The Homeschool Classroom alone, you can find more homeschool ideas than you will ever be able to implement successfully. There are organizational systems, toddler learning activities, crafts, field trips and so much more. And if you are like me, you might just love and wish you were doing most of it! How then do you choose what is for you and what is not?
Write a homeschool mission statement. This will remind you what the true goals are for your homeschool, why you are choosing this lifestyle, and will help you to select things that fit. If you need help getting started, read Brenda’s post at Curriculum Choice.
Reflect honestly about who you are. Sometimes you need to write it down. If you are a homebody, then trying to visit different parks each week for a nature study probably won’t work for you. Don’t feel bad about it. Keep looking for something that does fit.
Accept the space you are in. Some families are blessed with beautiful homeschool classrooms and some have a nook. The quality of your child’s education is not dependent on what your homeschool space looks like, but your family may be happier if you can be happy and content with what you have. (If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.) Choose what fits your space, adapt or let go of what doesn’t.
Keep an outline of your year plan handy. If you find something that fits into what you are doing, you can write in the activity or resource. This can help you weed out things that seem great but really don’t have a place to fit.
Make a list, but don’t commit. Sometimes I find ideas I love, but I know that trying to just “make it work now” would add too much stress. So I write down the idea, the source, and thoughts I have about how to use it in a spiral notebook I keep in my desk drawer. When I start planning something new, I look through the notebook and tear out any pages I want to use.
Before you make a big change, know what isn’t working. I recently became enamored with the workboxes so many families are doing. So much so, that I almost changed our entire system to workboxes. The problem? Our system already works for us. When I stopped and took stock, I realized that what I really loved was all the tags and boxes and ways to sneak in surprises for the kiddos. So while this awesome system was great for other families, it really wasn’t right for us. Instead, I made some fun labels for our toy and resource bins and added a small box to our space where I can put daily “surprises” (craft kits, special treats, etc.) for the children.
Know your budget. Unless you are extremely wealthy, you will never be able to have it all. Be as critical of the extras as you are of the curriculum you buy. If you can borrow something to try it out before you buy, you may find out that you or your children didn’t like it as much as you thought. Or it may confirm how great a purchase it is. Over the summer, borrow curriculum and read through it, go to the library and let your child read some of the kids magazines, swap a “trial” bin of puzzles and games with a friend for a week to get a preview.
If it fixes the problem, let yourself change. Have you ever seen something (or heard about it) and inside you just screamed “YES!” because you knew it would be perfect for you? Sometimes letting go of what isn’t working is really, really hard and sometimes it is easy.
Build some kits over the summer. If you aren’t crafty by nature but really want to be, take sometime over the summer to collect the “just for fun” or holiday craft ideas you loved and build kits for your children. Labeled plastic baggies or envelopes in various sizes can hold the materials in a “kit”. Include a print off of the activity so you remember how to make it. Next year, just grab a bag and you are all set.
Melissa is a cookie baking, lapbook making, picture taking homeschool mom of two. And though she has been absent lately, she hopes to spend more time blogging at HopeSprouts.
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.