In reflecting on our start to this year's homeschooling adventure, I've learned (or been reminded of) several important things.
1. Life happens. Be flexible.
If the computer is acting up or you get an unexpected call from a relative who needs taste-testers for her snow cones, it's okay to change gears for a little while. After all, learning about the role of preservatives in snow cone syrup is science, even if it isn't about ocean currents and tides. Just try to get back on track as soon as is reasonable.
2. My kids feel better when they know up front what they need to accomplish for the day.
Knowing that after handwriting she'll be able to take a break before history and science (which finish up the day) helps Miss C. power through those handwriting exercises. Miss J., my perfectionist, likes to know exactly where she is in her plan for the day. Since Miss N. and Mr. B. are old enough to be given deadlines and plan for how to meet those deadlines on their own, we all feel better having a clear plan for everyone.
3. It's okay to change plans if you see a problem with the plan or an unanticipated need.
I abandoned two different sets of plans for math because they required more practice than I considered appropriate for the attention span of my second grader. I also jettisoned a couple of units that I considered redundant for my fifth grader. I added an additional grammar resource for my ninth grader for review purposes. All of those changes were made to address specific educational needs of my children.
4. Have fun.
How do I keep my children motivated if I don't appear to be enjoying the lessons? Homeschooling is a joint discovery process, and my involvement and excitement about the journey are essential.
5. Read to them. Read things you loved as a child. Share your love of books.
I have been reading to my girls at bedtime for over a month now. I found The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew on my Kindle, and I introduced to them the poor family who lived in the little brown house. Now we're reading about a very bored and improper princess who takes matters into her own hands in Dealing with Dragons. I love sharing these stories with my children and hearing them say, "Just one more chapter, please."