Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How We Found Our Homeschooling Groove

This is our 4th year homeschooling. I have seen it said that it usually takes 3-4 years to get your homeschool groove. This has been true for us. I have also seen it said that you find your groove and then things change and you have to find it all over again. Lord, I sure hope that one doesn't apply to us!

If you are still trying to find what works for you and your family, here's what it took for us to find ours:

1. Trial and Error
2. Timing
3. Realizing My Own Limitations (again, and again)
4. Letting Go of the Ideal
5. Practice and Maturity

Trial and Error
The past three years on this blog show the evidence of planning, trying, and things not working out like planned; multiple times. I have tried to be open and honest about our missteps so that no one reading this blog will think I am perfect, or get the idea that they have to be perfect to homeschool. No matter how well you know your kids you can not with 100% accuracy predict how they will do/react with a specific curriculum or schedule or project or approach. You can only try your best in picking, assessing, and re-assessing as necessary and adapt when needed. For example, I love the Right Start math curriculum. It's great and it worked really well for how Builder Boy learned. But it did not end up working for us long term and it was hard to let go of this curriculum that was perfect for both of us if only I could just make the timing work.....

Finding out the best time for your kids to learn isn't always what you want it to be. I had to find out the hard way not to plan on any sit down work happening after lunch because we just couldn't make it work. I usually crashed energy-wise that time, had a baby that needed to be held to nap, or something along those lines. The boys can learn through fun media sources in their own way in the afternoon, but paper work or anything official just doesn't work for them at this time. I have online homeschooling friends whose kids learn best at night before bed. Others whose kid wakes up extra early and is half done with their school work before the rest of the house is even considering possibly waking up. You can force your ideal of what a school day is "supposed" to look like, or you can go with what works best for you and your kids. Right now for us that means school happens between 9:30 am to lunch at noon. Some morning we start at 9am if we have the rare morning appointment or park date. But no earlier than that. It gives everyone a chance to wake up when their body is ready and gives them some time to themselves to do their own thing in the morning before they have to start. For elementary age kids, this seems extra important. There's plenty of time later to set alarms.

Realizing My Own Limitations
I wanted to do all the awesome projects for Story of the World. I wanted weekly science experiments and craft projects and art tea parties and things that I realized take more time and work to set up and clean up then the kids actually spent doing them. And I was doing too much of the actual project for them when we actually did them. Then I wasn't checking supply lists ahead of time and then we didn't have what we needed so learning got put on hold until I could get it. And then I would forget. So stuff wasn't getting done because I wasn't able to do it perfectly.  And that's just one example.

Letting Go of the Ideal
When we started thinking about homeschooling we purchased and read The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Principal Daddy and I loved the classical education path it described. We wanted that to be what we did for our children. We still use quite a few of the resources and processes recommended, and I continue to look to the book as a standard. But modifications had to be made. I had to learn that a curriculum is a tool, not my boss. I gave up on the idea of teaching Latin in 2nd or 3rd grade when we just needed to get the basics done. I never would have imagined that I would give up on formal science and history for a year so we could "catch up" and focus on language arts. Our 4th year of homeschooling looks so different than what I envisioned in our 1st year. But what we are doing now is working for us; that is what mattered.

Practice and Maturity 
This actually goes for both the kids and me.  Maturity wise for the kids, in my enthusiasm to introduce a new topic or learning point I sometimes tried to teach before Builder Boy was ready for it. And sometimes he wasn't ready for some stuff for a while. I sometimes wonder if I tired to teach handwriting too soon and that's why it's such an ongoing problem for us. (Or it could be something else. Not sure.) Maturity wise for me, homeschooling my kids has been a such a learning experience for me. Learning to trust myself rather than go by the book has not been easy and has taken a lot of baby steps to get there. Figuring out when we need to take a day off instead of pushing through is another thing I'm still working on.

And practice; doing school consistently has been a major issues for us. Our first homeschool year got sidelined by a pregnancy that had me bedridden, year two had a new baby who only napped if I was holding her, and year three I was dealing with major depression and PTSD triggering with a move for us and triggers moving in to our town. But this summer, after the June from Hell, I finally got us on a semi-regular schedule with half our subjects and got us into the habit of doing school at the same time of day 3-5 days a week. So when we started our new school year we were already in the habit of doing it. We had worked out kinks with what to do with Lady Bug and the boys would look at the clock and say "hey, it's almost school time" and get ready.

I do not know if this will help someone reading this find their family's homeschooling groove faster; time seems to be a major factor. But I do hope it helps those who haven't found theirs yet to know that they're not alone in that, and to give themselves some grace.

Have you found your homeschooling groove? What helped you/any advice for others? 
Please share in the comments!

ETA: follow up post on the specifics of our schedule and set up can be found here.


  1. I loved reading about how you found what worked for you and your family.

  2. I loved reading about how you found what worked for you and your family.

  3. This makes me feel so much better! Thank you for sharing!


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