So... we've been doing this homeschooling thing for a good 9 months now.
In the world of the internet, that makes me, ya' know... an expert.
Obviously, I jest.
Here are some tips though, just in case you are thinking of jumping on board with the denim-jumper brigade.
#1. Pajamas are Clothes.
I remember when I started this blog, and called it "Pajamas are Clothes." My Micah, he said, "Ummm... are you sure that is what you want to call it? Once you do it, it's kind of... done. For good."
"Phhht." I replied. I regret that phhht at times. For homeschooling, I initially decided I would insist on us being dressed and ready for school to start promptly at nine. That ended one cold morning when Lincoln and I were both wrapped up in blankets, on the couch, in our pajamas, reading books we simply couldn't put down. That kind of thing is just not as fun in a pair of skinny jeans my friends. Stay in your PJs sometimes... just because you can.
#2. Have a start time, but keep it loosely.
There are times we start before nine, and times, when we start much later than nine. I think it's silly to stop Lincoln from something constructive like cleaning his room, designing a new coffee maker (no joke, he did.) reading, etc to start school. Let them have a few extra minutes... sometimes.
#3. Let them make their own lunch.
Now, I know I am homeschooling a middle schooler, so this might not work for some. I have loved watching my son evolve from making only PB&J to now creating salads, reheating leftovers, cutting up apples, etc. If you ever want your kids to appreciate the effort you put into preparing meals, let them be in charge of their own. I am running a homeschool, not a Denny's or a Burger King. (*bonus: Lincoln now makes Micah's lunch too if he's home. IT'S LIKE A FREAKIN' VACATION UP IN HERE!)
#4. Take a Nap.
I get a lot of ribbing for loving naps so much. A LOT of ribbing. Micah likes to tell people I keep myself on a Babywise schedule. I just really, really, love naps. It makes me a nicer person. I feel no guilt in having Lincoln read quietly upstairs, or having him keep working at the table, while I sneak in a 30 minute recharge. So, whatever age you are homeschooling, carve out some quiet time each day.
#5. Say No.
I learned that people tend to think you are available all day, every day, if you homeschool. Um... no.
If I run out with you today, and Suzy Q tomorrow, it makes getting school work done hard. Learn to tell people no, and don't feel guilty at all. If they hound you or make fun of you, you must, I say MUST play the I-am-solely-responsible-for-educating-my-child-card. It's not as jazzy as a newborn for an excuse, but, it works.
#6. Say Yes.
I know, I am a sea of contradiction. Sorry. Not really.
I do think you have to guard your school time, but mamas... no need to stand with a loaded weapon and shoot down everyone who dares to lure you away from the Kitchen Table Academy. We have taken unplanned days off to volunteer, to play in the snow, run errands, visit with a friend. It's not all the time, but it is OK to delay book learning sometimes. (*note if you are taking time off to "teach" British culture by watching Downton Abbey, you have lost it. Just pour your tea and admit you need to see who Bates is killing this week, and be done with it.)
#7. Employ Google.
So, when your child comes to you with a question and you have no idea... I mean, no blooming idea, what it means... Go to Google. No shame. Google knows more than you. LET GOOGLE HELP. I would also say this though, make sure you are teaching your kid their way around a real dictionary and thesaurus. Heaven forbid they ever have to write anything without the internet. Lincoln got quite a kick out me explaining what an encyclopedia is to him. I'm not going to lie, it made me a little sad.
#8. Don't Stress.
I think my biggest fear at the beginning of this year was worrying that I would not teach Lincoln enough. And then I remembered writing this post back in the fall. I think when you remove distractions like girls, and peer pressure, and do actually keep up with a basic curriculum goal, your kid will be fine. Just check state goals, and where your child is at if you are worried.
#9. Admit Defeat
I am not a fan of math. In fact, I kind of hate it. I could tell early on that this year's math was way too easy for Lincoln, so we muddled through, compromised by skipping easy sections, and next year, I will not be his math teacher. We will either use an online system, or the school of Dad. I hate math that much and he loves it that much. I have no problem admitting this failure and finding a better solution.
#10. Embrace Lessons Not Found In Your Books
I was, and am still a little surprised about how many "in-depth" talks this year afforded Lincoln and I. These talks were rarely in the midst of formal lesson time though. (but were sometimes a result of something we were studying.) It was often while we were driving, and we chatted about so many great things. So many hard things. So many funny things. We covered a lot of "off topic" stuff, yet, it was important stuff. I think some of those times, were the greatest lessons of our year.
So, it's been a good year, and a hard year. We've had ups and downs, battles and victories. I have loved it, and loathed it. Today though, after Lincoln and I spent the morning planting vegetables, pulling weeds, and splitting hosta, we ate lunch together and read books on the patio. I looked over at him, and said, "Aren't you glad you are homeschooled so we can do this?" He gave his hearty approval.