Strategies for Shifting Focus - Beginning Homeschooling

Strategies for Shifting Focus: Homeschooling

Let's talk about life after the pandemic for a minute. Will we ever experience that? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way- life has to go on.

It's time to shift our focus. Shift into living life in spite of the pandemic and all the crazy that comes with it. I challenge you to take my 7 day series on shifting focus and prepare yourself for the normal that you create and are in charge of. What goes on inside your mind, your house, and your heart is 100% in your hands to decide. Let's do this together...Shift Focus to our new normal that brings us joy and makes us thankful for the opportunity.

Focus Shift 1: Homeschooling. Get my key points on choosing curricula, adjusting your expectations, and setting yourself up so you can succeed.

Unexpected Challenges In Life

When life gives you a curveball it has you wondering about the future. What’s the new normal going to be? Is there ever going to be a normal?

In the spring of 2020, many families were thrown into homeschooling and got a taste of it. Some thought it was wonderful and others thought it was the hardest thing they have had to endure.

Despite the tough experience, many parents are still looking to make that transition because it is the best choice for their children and family. Being thrown into homeschooling without a plan or instruction is an extreme situation. 

Vaccine Mandates Mean More Homeschoolers

Homeschooling is becoming a necessity more now than ever before. Between the pandemic of 2020 and the threat of mandatory vaccinations, parents are opting to keep kids home.

Homeschooling Isn’t Like Traditional School

Approaching it with some organization is more ideal. Homeschooling is very simple but I know it doesn’t feel that way because you are holding the concept of traditional learning in your mind as the gold standard. This is so far from reality but you wouldn’t know it until you spent a year homeschooling your own kids.

If you don't know this about me, I've homeschooled my three girls from the very beginning. When our first child was born in 2008, I stumbled onto some Montessori books. I highly recommend getting to know Maria Montessori’s work as it pertains to parenting. It’s intuitive and facilitates incredible opportunities for you and your child to learn and grow together. I knew right away after reading a few books on the Montessori method that I wanted to incorporate that style of play with my kids. 

We don't homeschool many hours per day and we do homeschool all year so that we can take lots and lots of breaks. I actually took about 15 months off when my third child was born. This clearly does not look like public school. 

What Curriculum Is Best for Homeschooling?

First of all, you're asking everyone's opinion on curriculum. And I have to tell you that what your friend loves, even if she decorates her house the way that you do, is not necessarily going to be the curriculum that works for you. Everyone's opinion on curriculum really doesn't matter. What you need to understand is what the curriculum does for your family and will it fit you? 

There are two choices you have to make right away. Do you want to use an online school like an online full time program or do you want to use traditional books and tangible materials? 

The second decision you need to make is:  Do you need a complete curriculum? Or do you want mixed materials? Now, I understand the appeal of just buying all the subjects that come with one brand that comes in a box and it's so much fun to open, but it is the worst feeling when you start doing it and you hate parts of it. Buying it all feels like you've committed to the program and you feel like you have to use it all.

What If I Choose the Wrong Homeschool Curriculum?

It’s not uncommon for a family to decide to like parts of one curriculum and loathe parts of it as well. Sometimes the learning style doesn’t fit your kid or the amount of parental input is more than you can offer. Add to these problems the fact that you may be schooling multiple ages of kids...and it’s easy to see how you could choose the wrong homeschool curriculum. 


One way to deal with this is to choose just math and just language arts (reading) for each child and see how everyone does with those choices. You can read books for history and science. I know, that sounds really simple but it’s true! Some programs, like Math-U-See, have video lessons for 5-10 minutes to introduce a concept to your child (and to you!). Then the lessons are mostly done independently by the child. If you choose a subject for every child and every grade level, you will surely fail. Instead, choose science and math that works for everyone. Younger kids will cover the materials three times before they graduate so it’s OK for them to zone out a bit if your older kids are learning history timelines for the last time before graduation.

One of my favorite programs that works for the whole family is Sonlight.  You can also get the secular version Bookshark.

We love science and history from Sonlight and have done 5 years of it so far. I believe this is a good fit for just about every family. You can order audio books as much as possible to reduce your time spent reading if needed. 

Best Homeschool Curriculum for Preschoolers

The best thing you can do with your preschooler is play and create engaging activities for them to do while you work with your older kids. Preschool was designed to help the less fortunate children prepare for school because parents chose not to or weren’t able to provide enriching activities at home. Try something like this or look up many sensory bin activities you can put together to keep your preschooler or toddler entertained. Here's a great resource for preschool learning. Puzzles, blocks, reading books aloud and even singing songs are great ways to “teach” your preschooler. 

Choosing Curriculum for Homeschool Success

Choosing a curriculum is not the key to your success. It is absolutely not the key to your success. The key to your success is how you structure your day. How do you fit school in to the day? How do you reward the kids for paying attention and doing some work? Your kids do not have to sit down to learn. In fact, studies show that it’s better if they don’t sit still. Kids get fidgety and may be more cooperative if you allow them to move more. 

The biggest key to your success is how you start your day. The lessons you plan need to be ones you have time to complete consistently. If you expect your kids to teach themselves on the electronics, you are setting yourself up for failure. Not all children learn this way. Find a way to run your day productively. I have many resources on doing just that. You can get my Top Working Mom Productivity tools for creating a more productive routine here 


How to Get Started Homeschooling

The biggest takeaway that you should have is to start simple math and language arts that helps your kids read. Find a good book list or get a reading suggestion guide for your kids to read or be read to 20-30 minutes each day depending on their age. Check out Teachers Pay Teachers for more resources on learning activities you can do just by reading a great book. Get in control of your day and shift your focus to homeschooling by making a list of tasks you need to do and attacking them one by one.

As always, you can get more support from me in the community or by emailing me. I’m here to help!




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