Making Your Homeschool Tick

To make your homeschool tick, you need to keep the pendulum swinging. There must be textbook times, and there must be times when our interests take the stage. If you find that you are spending too much time in one side of the swing, then schedule time for the other. If the kids are bogged down in their history book, then take a few daytrips to local museums to see something they are studying. Put down the text and pick up a biography. If you find that interest is waning in a particular area, go back to the textbook and begin a new chapter.

Let me give you an example. For instance, right now we are studying plants in our biology textbook. I will allow 2 or 3 weeks to cover this material.

Planning

First, I read the chapters in the textbook and highlight the important terms and sections in my teacher's manual. The textbook has determined the topic we are going to study, but I decide what and how much we cover. If it is extraneous busywork or something we've already done, I skip it. (If you have more than one child, use the oldest child's textbook.)

Next, I go to the public library. Our library has a fantastic selection of videos and DVD's and I will select a few on our topic. Then, I visit both the children's section and the adult section for books of interest. I make sure to get some experiment books and some field guides. Lastly, I may look in the biography section for famous people in the field. After this, think about any local gardens, nurseries, greenhouses, state parks, or other community resources that might be available for field trips. We also live near a major university that has an Educational Resource Center on campus. When I am feeling adventurous, I will also check out the ERC for additional resources.

Consultation

This is the MOST important step and it is not to be skipped. When you get back from the library, lay all of your finds out on the kitchen table and muster the troops. Ask your kids to tell you which books, videos, DVD's, experiments, biographies, activities, or field trips interest them. This guarantees that whatever you do with your kids will be something they WANT to do, and it gives them things to look forward to doing together. You incorporate their top picks, suggest some of our own, and write down a plan of action.

The Follow-Through

For me, following through is the hardest part. But, our plan has gotten the kids excited (or at least willing) so they pull me into it. The first day or two will be spent reading the textbook, and maybe doing work pages. The next day we might watch a video. The next day we visit a nursery and try to identify some of the plants we see with a field guide. While at the nursery, I buy some green bean seeds to plant. The next day, we plant the green been seeds and maybe do a couple more plant experiments. The next day, we work on another section of our textbook. On this goes until we have covered the material and explored our interests in this area. Swing, swing the pendulum.

So, the next time it seems that your homeschool clock has wound down, take inventory. Is you pendulum swinging? Are you finding the balance between work and play, free time and study time, school and learning? Remember, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is described as being full of grace and truth. And to accomplish our goals, we need to be striving for the same balance in our lives and the lives of our children. We'll be happier, and so will our children, when we learn to make our homeschool tick.

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Lori M. Henry is married to a very supportive husband and is mom to three terrific teenagers. She has homeschooled her children since kindergarten and graduated her eldest in May 2004. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education and has taught in many settings from public and private school classrooms, to homeschool co-ops, to one-on-one instruction at home. Her articles can be found in Christian Woman, The Gospel Advocate and Guideposts for Kids on the Web. You can reach Lori at realmom007@yahoo.com.