Many things can cause disharmony in our homeschools. I've come up with a few ideas that might be able to lower your "stress meter."

MORNINGS

  • Prayer: "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6). How could we even start a day without giving thanks to God for giving us this day and asking Him to guide us through it?
  • First subject: Recess! I know that our children don't want to get up in the morning and get right down to the business of schoolwork. We let them sleep until they are rested, but we make sure they are up at a decent time and that they will have at least one hour before we start lessons. That also gives me at least an hour to read the blogs!
  • Laundry/dishes: I start the laundry early, before we begin any schoolwork. I do the dishes and all of the house straightening the night before so that the house is ready for the day when I get up in the morning.
  • Meals: I decide what I am going to prepare for all the meals each morning. I thaw out food or start the crock-pot or bake the bread. I find that if I know what meals I am to prepare, I am less stressed when I look at the clock and realize that I have only 15 minutes until suppertime!

DAILY SCHEDULE

  • Working: We try to spend two hours in the morning with work, have a lunch break/recess for about two hours, then finish up with two hours in the afternoon.
  • Flexibility: It's the children we are doing this for, so enjoy them while they are here. Be flexible. Be spontaneous. Aren't these some of the reasons we do all this?

LESSON PLANS

  • Numerically: I write my lesson plans as "Day 1, Day 2" etc. I found that if I had my plans listed as "Monday, Tuesday," etc, and we took a day off, I had to scribble all over my plans to rearrange everything. Too stressful! If you number them 1-to-whatever, then when you take a day off, your schedule is still fine. You just begin the next time you get together for school with the next numbered day.
  • Year-round school: Teaching year-round and taking short breaks when you need them is less stressful than trying to get everything done according to the public school calendar. You can take more days off when you want them, and not all during those hot summer months. It is less stressful because you don't have to spend so many weeks re-teaching the things your children forgot over the long summer break!

CURRICULUM

  • Buy used: If you didn't spend a lot of money buying it, you don't feel stressed if you didn't use it.
  • Don't do all the activities: Do what works for your family. Don't stress out because you haven't done everything listed to do. Those teacher's editions were made for a classroom teacher to find activities to keep 30 children under control for an eight-hour day.
  • Free: There are many sites where you can learn for free on the Internet. The library also contains many things available for your use.
  • Tickets: We use a system in which I calculate the overall grade for the week. I average all their written work and come up with a percentage. That percentage corresponds to a number of "tickets" on my chart. Our chart has a 6-ticket maximum. Each ticket is good for playing an hour of video games or choosing a video to watch. We call it "electronic time." That's it for the week. When the tickets are gone, then no more video games or movies. Besides motivation, it's also great for limiting the amount of time your children spend sitting at the TV or computer! We use these tickets for motivation to get schoolwork done properly. They are not a punishment for not being a "smart" child, just motivation for them to do "their best" work—not necessarily to be the best.

ACADEMICS

  • Grade levels: Grade levels are something the public school devised to give the public classroom a focus. If your children are doing the work and learning, they are at grade level. No college or future employer is going to ask your child, "Did you learn to read by the time you were 6?" or, "Did you learn your multiplication tables in third grade?" Your children will know these skills by then, and that's all that is important.
  • Testing: If you want to see how your children are doing "according to the norm" (whatever that is), then you may purchase easy-to-use test booklets at a school supply store or online.
  • One on one: Teaching your child yourself is like having a private tutor for him or her. You know what's the best way to learn anyway.
  • Do not compare! As 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us, "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

SIBLINGS