Here are ten different areas where you can make modifications to your homeschool when you feel you need a little adjustment. Choose one or try them all!
1. The time you start your day
School doesn’t need to start at 8 a.m., but we sometimes fall into patterns of how we experienced school ourselves. If 8 a.m. works for you, that’s great. But would your kids respond differently if school started at 9 a.m.? Or noon? Or how about after supper?
On the other hand, if you’ve found that a late start is actually causing more harm than good, it’s totally acceptable to start at 8 a.m. Older students (ahem) might try to tell you they perform better if school starts at 2 p.m. If this holds true, wonderful! If not...it’s perfectly fine to have them set an alarm for earlier.
2. How many days per week you have structured school
Some homeschoolers do school every day of the week. Others prefer a four-day schedule like the one BookShark offers. If you’re looking for something different, try changing the number of days you’re involved in structured schooling. The sky's the limit for how you set things up—take advantage of the freedom you’ve got, and make those days work for you!
3. The order in which subjects are taught
Some kids do best knowing what comes next, and others like variety. You don’t always have to start with History. You don’t always have to end with Math.
You also don’t have to do every subject every day. Maybe you do math and reading every day and fit other subjects in wherever they fall. Maybe you spend Mondays doing nothing but History and Tuesdays are meant for all-day Science. It's up to you and your kids.
4. Where you do school
Some homeschool families set up a school room and conduct all schoolish things within that space. Other families don’t have a designated area for school and learning happens wherever the chips (or books!) may fall.
Wherever you usually do school, could you toss it up a bit?
Try the the kitchen table or the couch in the sunroom.
How about snuggled inside a blanket fort?
Up in the top of a tree fort?
What about on the banks of the river?
The local coffee shop?
Maybe your lessons could be done outside on a picnic blanket with some snacks?
5. The materials you’re using
Your first thought might be curriculum, but that’s not the only homeschooling material that might need some tweaking. New art supplies, a different map, or a card game might be something that re-inspires your kids (and you!) to enjoy the homeschool life again.
Even just moving around the things that you’re already using can help. A change of scenery is good and jiggles the brain into thinking in new ways or finding excitement in old things. Put that map on a different wall. Move the bookshelf into a different room. Change up the way those art supplies are organized. Even small changes can make a big difference.
6. What your kids are in charge of independently
As your kids get older, you may want them to start taking on responsibility for more of their learning. Sometimes it’s the kids who want to take on more independent learning, and the parent doesn’t realize it!
Maybe three days a week you do your learning together, and two days a week are completely independent. Maybe your kids take on certain subjects independently or work long term on an independent project.
It’s perfectly okay for your kids to take on more independent work—it’s preparation for adulthood!
7. The frequency of your outings
You may be a family that is constantly running and on the go. Can you cut some of your commitments so you’re only gone three times a week?
On the other hand, maybe you’re a family that has become a little too comfy staying within the four walls of home, and you need to make going out a priority. Could you make a commitment to take an awesome adventure away from home once or twice a week?
Remember, a change of scenery is good. Sometimes that scenery means seeing something outside your home. Other times, it means actually staying home.
8. Who is in charge
Who is teaching the subjects in your home? Mom? Dad? Grandma? Grandpa? Consider asking another friend or family member to share their expertise on something. It’s a great way to connect, and helps kids to realize how valuable everyone’s knowledge is.
Know who else can teach at your homeschool? Your kids! If your kids have interest or experience with certain topic or hobby, encourage them to teach the rest of the family about it. It’s awesome to see kids take the lead in a household. It teaches you so much more about how they learn—and how they like to be taught.
9. Your outlook
As a homeschooling parent, thinking about next month or next year can be a little nerve-wracking. Is it stressing you out to think about what’s going to happen in four months? Try taking it day-by-day. You don’t need to obsess about what’s coming next.
On the other hand, are you a homeschooler who maybe needs to honestly consider what’s coming up in four months? While we don’t want to think about one more stressor—the future—it is good to have at least some sort of plan. Your kids will thank you, and you’ll have less stress because of it!
10. Your expectations
Maybe you need to step up the game. Have you been too relaxed? Have you asked of your kids what needs to be asked of them? Are your kids working up to par and doing all they can?
Then again, you might be a mom who needs to chill out a bit. Has your expectation of what homeschooling should be and what your kids should be able to do made the experience less than enjoyable for everyone involved? Consider taking a bit of a break. Ask your kids and your significant other what they expect from homeschooling and what they consider to be a successful homeschool experience. You might find that you’re further ahead than you thought you were.
One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexibility that comes along with it. Take advantage of the freedom to change things up when needed!
About the Author
Amy Dingmann lives in Minnesota with her husband where they have been homeschooling their two sons since 2007. Her hobbies include filling up her sons’ bottomless pits, drinking a lot of strong coffee, and smiling. Her least favorite subject is math. Her favorite subjects are everything else. She likes talking to other homeschooling parents and assuring them that even though they worry they’re totally screwing things up, they actually totally and completely rock. Amy blogs at The Hmmmschooling Mom, and works as an author/speaker on homeschooling and parenting/family topics.