Homeschooling & traveling

5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Homeschooling

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It’s an exciting time of year! For some of you, you’ll be starting to homeschool for the first time this fall. Congrats on the beginning of an amazing adventure! For others, you’ll be continuing to homeschool as you have been for years. Here are five tips from us oldies to the newbies that we wished we had figured out in our first few years as homeschool moms.

1.    Don’t recreate school! 

I know. For most of us, traditional schooling is all we really know, right? But think about it. You pulled your kids out of school for a reason: it wasn’t the right fit. Don’t try to recreate a classroom at your dining room table. It’s a waste of time that will ultimately make you all frustrated! Do- figure out what everyone really likes about being able to do school differently. That could be sleeping in and working in the afternoon, sitting on the floor or in the backyard to work, focusing on just one subject a day, listening to music while everyone works, a field trip every week, doing the work at Grandma’s, making it a lot more hands on, or anything that makes learning more engaging, productive, and fun!

2.    Don’t try to finish it all.

Those curriculum packages have a lot of problems in each day’s worth of work. You know why? So the kids who need more practice have the extra work already there in the books. Just do the evens or odds, or even every 5th problem. If your kids remember it from the previous year, just do enough to refresh their memories and call it a day. Focus on doing more work only when they need it. That is one of the major benefits of homeschooling. Tailor the work to what your kids actually need. And if they burn out, you don’t need to finish the whole book by the end of the year. Most teachers don’t complete the whole textbook. They pick and choose. So should we!

3.    Don’t stick to only one curriculum for everything.  

So you’ve purchased a whole curriculum set and you’re all ready to get down to business. Keep in mind, though, that three weeks into the school year, you’re going to see that not all of it works for all of your kids. You don’t have to stick with just that one program! If it’s not working, go find something else that fits better. For example, most kids are not at the same grade level in every subject every year. Nor do they all learn the same way. Most programs focus on teaching in a specific style that may not match your kids. Start tailoring the work to their needs. You can find used curriculum on eBay and other places to play with as well as searching Pinterest and even Google to help you find what you need. Start with one subject that isn’t working well and play with different things. It’s more fun to find stuff yourself than you think!

4.    You don’t have to go through the curriculum at the pace that’s set up for you.  

If you can whip through the early chapters and take more time off at Christmas to go visit family, do it. If your kid is super excited about science in the fall, go through that whole years’ worth of work first and move on to other subjects later. If taking a vacation in October is what you all want to do, move things around and start a week early, double up for a while, or skip some things that aren’t necessary. This is one of the major perks of homeschooling. Enjoy it! You set the schedule!

5.    Listen to your kids.  

This is ultimately about your kids, right? They know what works for them and what doesn’t when it comes to learning. Ask them. Ask them about what they love to do, and read, and study, and be curious about. Ask them what time of day is the easiest for them to get through their work. Ask them what gets them excited. These are the clues to creating awesome, fun-filled, and productive learning days! For more ideas, download our free workbook, 5 Keys to an Awesome Homeschool Day.

Homeschooling can be the most rewarding, meaningful, and frustrating thing you will ever do. Remember, thinking outside the box, or classroom in this case, is why you decided to do this in the first place. Experiment and do more of what works!

If you know that homeschooling is the answer but you find you are not sure how exactly to create the experience or education you want to give your kids, the cart is open for a limited time for this fall’s session of Homeschool with Confidence, The Ultimate Homeschool Teachers Training. Watch for emails to get early bird pricing and bonuses!  

Here’s to an amazing homeschool year!

Traveling Off Season in the Spring

May is here and it is lovely everywhere! For our family, this is one of the main months we vacation, and no, not over Memorial Day Weekend!

As homeschoolers, we have the major benefit of traveling any time that we want.  We can shift our school schedule or even just arrange it so that our travel is part of our end-of-year schooling.

There are so many benefits to traveling in May! The country is awash with springtime color, the temps stay wonderfully moderate, and the pesky bugs are mostly not biting yet. But the major benefit is that the crowds are way down!

We have found that many attractions start to open in May (though you will want to make sure before you make any plans!), but because most schools haven’t let out yet, the crowds are way down.

Off and on for many years, we have traveled to Disney World during May. The spring-breakers are long gone and summer trips haven’t started yet. The flowers are in bloom all over the parks and the days are in the 70's-80's. It is absolutely beautiful. Many years, most lines weren’t over 15 minutes. And on top of that, I have often found lodging deals because we’re traveling so off-season. Tip: the first two weeks are the best!!  

Camping is also perfect for most areas this time of year. No mosquitos or high temps, and again, you’ll be beating the crowds.

So if the end of the school year is making things unproductive for your family, or if you are dreading the crowds of summer vacationers, plan a quick getaway in the next couple of weeks. Your whole family will thank you! Remember, one of the best parts of homeschooling is that you have the flexibility to travel during the week when most other kids are still stuck in school. Why not travel when it makes the most sense and the world is at its most beautiful? Make the most of it and plan your May getaway today!

Please share your spring travel plans in our group. We’d love to hear where you’re going!

 

 

 

Traveling and Homeschooling, So Grateful!

It is a few days before Labor Day weekend and we are on our favorite beach in Florida.  Our traditional cherished cabin was not only available to rent, but at a discount because it is now “off season” in Florida.  The water is almost bath water warm and the beaches are almost empty.  I am incredibly grateful, yet again, to be able to travel during the best times of the year and skip the heat, lines, and crowds.  To me, this is one of the major perks of homeschooling.  

Being grateful
Gratitude is the one thing that happy people all have in common.  It is the key to living a fulfilled life.  It is the ability to see what is great in any situation.  It also makes all of life a learning experience and not a series of successes and failures.  The ability to be grateful recognizes the beautiful and loving things in your life while also opening you up for more.  Teaching your kids ways to see things with more grateful eyes is a skill that potentially could change their lives in a massive way.

This week, I was amazed at a wash of gratitude that overcame me when I realized that it was homeschooling that made this experience and many others like it possible in such a perfect way.  We are now starting our 16th year as a homeschooling family.  It seems somewhere in there I have forgotten that my kids could be in school or college right now.  We have enjoyed this free and flexible schedule for so long that I just don’t remember that life is not like this for everyone.   As I was floating in the Gulf of Mexico with my family around me, I realized that this freedom to travel during ideal seasons was absolutely something special. 

Travel off season
To all of you homeschooling moms: Enjoy and make the best possible use of your ability to create your own yearly schedule.  Plan trips during the best weather and visitor off seasons.  Take advantage of the discounts and sales during non-peak periods.  For example, one of my favorite times of the year to take a family trip is in the first two weeks of May.  During the beautiful month of May, many kids of all ages are finishing up school.  We, though, have gone to Disney World during this time frame and never waited more than 15 minutes, all while having incredible weather and tons of flowers!  We have gone to Europe, Hawaii, as well as explored our own country in these pockets of great weather before and after public school starts.

Look at your schedule this year.  Where can you fit in a trip that is perfect in terms of weather and lack of crowds?  Expand your school year into the summer so you can take advantage of changing leaves in the fall, snow for skiing in the winter, or to just enjoy spring to its fullest.  Don’t forget to add some fun learning along the way.  If you schedule it right, you may not to do much make up time after all.

This is one of the major perks of homeschooling!  Time to take advantage of it.  And don’t forget to be grateful!