How I Stay Sane as a Homeschooling Mother of Five

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Even my littlest learners have serious goals.

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As a homeschooling mom of five young children, I often hear “I don’t know how you do it.” The truth? I don’t do nearly as much as anyone expects—and that’s by design.

As I discussed in-depth in Dying to Win, inspiring our children to become driven independent learners is the single best way we can set them up for success.

But how do we pull that off? The key is to have the right set of expectations and an arsenal of tools that work well for you and your children.

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that your homeschool does not—and in fact should not—resemble a traditional school. Instead, focus on the growth of each child.

You can spend a lifetime spinning your wheels trying to make your children perform as other people expect.

Or you can choose to focus on your child’s strengths and identify key weaknesses that are essential for them to lead fulfilling lives.

It’s also important to make sure you are in a healthy mental and physical condition to be the parent your kids need. I know what this is like from personal experience as someone who struggles with autoimmune conditions—and I know I’m not alone.

As parents we need to know what we can do well, our limitations, and how we can best encourage our kids while cultivating a love of learning in them.

A common complaint I hear from parents is that homeschooling is destroying their relationship with their children because they are so busy being their child’s teach that they are no longer being a parent. My response? Fire the teacher. Seriously. And this doesn’t mean you need to send them to school.

Your children don’t need a teacher. They do need a coach and encourager.  And someone who loves them unconditionally—and yet will draw boundary lines.

My mother did this beautifully while homeschooling me during the 80s and 90s. My learning challenges never came down to a battle of wills between me and my mother. Instead, it was a struggle between me and that workbook. My mother came alongside as the keeper of the answer key.

You don’t need to stand up in front of your children lecturing for hours on end. You do need to provide them with tools for learning and encourage them to use them. You do need to limit their opportunities to do things that won’t help them learn and grow. And you need to show them why what they’re learning today will matter in the future.

My current homeschooling curriculum is not the least expensive option available but it’s well worth it for our family because I know my children are getting an excellent education without me spending hours on lesson planning, organizing materials, and stepping them through a laborious learning process.

We use a video-based curriculum with an instructor providing 180 video lessons for each subject, any necessary printable worksheets provided below each lesson, and links to online books so they can be printed out if we don’t already have a copy. It’s simple, straightforward, and—most importantly—cuts a lot of busy work out of my children’s educations.

Their teachers are video instructor just as mine were books. And I come alongside them as the coach making sure they’re not getting stuck.

Sometimes it’s simple. When my daughter is struggling with a math problem we consider all the possibilities. Is the instructor terrible? Or did she forget to watch the video where he taught her how to do this? Is she struggling with something foundational she didn’t grasp in an earlier lesson? Most of the time she’ll realize she needs to watch a video again and the problem is solved.

Sometimes it takes a lot more time, pain, and even money to get to the bottom of a child’s problem. One of my sons has wanted to read since he was a toddler. He even memorized the alphabet at 17 months old. But as the years went by, it didn’t matter how hard he worked, he continued to struggle with reading. When he was seven I found an eye specialist who was able to determine that his eyesight was consistently inconsistent. Poor kid. He’s start reading a sentence and suddenly everything would go blurry or the words would start dancing around. After several months of vision therapy his eyesight drasticall improved and now his reading ability is rapidly improving.

The best thing about looking at homeschooling as a coach coming alongside my kids is that it something I would be doing anyway as a parent. Even if I sent my kids to a regular school, I’d want to know what they were struggling with and provide a fresh perspective on how to deal a struggle. I would also have been the one to take my son to a specialist and, as the doctor told me, I would have been paying for it since he was technically reading at grade level (even if poorly). It’s likely he would have floundered for years before intervention would have been offered thorugh a school system—even if he had an amazing teacher who wanted to help him. 

Now, if my children did go to a regular school I can imagine they would have a few other amazing encouragers and coaches in their lives. As far as I know, our local school district has an excellent reputation. But our journey off the beaten track also provides them with a variety of other adults who step in to provide that encouragement and sense of community.

And I have peace of mind knowing that I’m giving my children an incredible opportunity to become the best possible versions of themselves by giving them an incredible freedom to learn.

If you would like more information about the specific video curriculum I use, The Ron Paul Curriculum, you can check it out here. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment section below or email me at teri@tericapshaw.com.

 

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