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5 Homeschool Mom Success Hacks

5 Homeschool Mom Success Hacks

Every homeschool mom wants success as a homeschool mom. Wouldn’t it be great if there were homeschool mom success hacks? Seriously.

  • You’ve combed the internet looking for the best deals.
  • You’ve spent hours visiting your favorite homeschool groups, social media pages, and blogs.
  • You have what is starting to look like a plan.
  • You’ve told yourself that you are ready to get started.

I have a question for you, Mom. What about YOU?

Easy Homeschool Mom Success Hacks You Can Actually Do

We get so wrapped up in preparing for our kids to have a successful school year, that we don’t stop and make a plan for ourselves.  That’s what I want to do in this article today. I want to talk about some sanity savers that will help YOU prepare YOURSELF for back to school!

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #1: The 4 20s

When attending a workshop held by Oginga Carr, a business coach in my network, I heard about the 4 20s. These are four things that you do every morning before picking up your phone or doing anything for anyone else. Here they are:

  • 20 ounces of water—Most water bottles are 16.9 ounces, but you can still find some 20-ounce bottled water, guestimate with your own water bottle, or find a 20-ounce water bottle.
  • 20 ounces of reading from a physical book—GASP! Who does THAT anymore? The truth is that we are less likely to be distracted when we read from a physical book because it has no notifications popping up!
  • 20 ounces of body activation—Yes, exercise is what I mean. This is one that I have to get better with myself. Sigh!
  • 20 minutes of planning—What do you want to get done today? What is it going to take to get it done? Do you have it? If not, what can you use instead? Get things together before your family converges on you!

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #2: Chore and Responsibility Chart

Everybody in the house needs to help—and you need to LET THEM HELP! Let go of the perfectionist mentality and give your children chores. Take advantage of teachable moments because it is all stuff they need to know by the time they leave home anyway!

Consider using a loop schedule to keep down arguments about turns. Here’s what a loop schedule looks like:

SundayMonday
TrashDadMom
KitchenMomKid 1
LaundryKid 1Kid 2
Living RoomKid 2Kid 3
DenKid 3 Dad

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #3: Define Your Working Hours

If you work at home or run a business out of your home, establish definite working hours and get your family on board. Let them know that if no one is bleeding, on fire, or has severed a limb, then you are not to be disturbed. Have things prepared for them to do during that time and teach time how to help each other! Call in reinforcements if you need to, especially if you have little ones.

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #4: Meal Planning and Prep

Having a meal plan can make dinner time simple and shut-down time less chaotic. Start with family favorites and then develop a rotation based on what you know your family will eat without question! For freezer meals, you can use sectioned containers from Amazon. The ones we have are dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven safe!

Homeschool Mom Success Hack #5: Commit to Mom Days

Contrary to popular opinion, you need to have a day and time to yourself to do the things that you enjoy. Doing so does not mean that you don’t love your family. The best thing you can give your family is a complete and whole YOU! So, even if it’s just going for a quick walk, a movie, and a snack in your room, or reading a book while they are doing their work. Make a way to do something for YOU!

Back to school isn’t just about them. You need to do things for yourself, too!

Original article by: Tammie Polk is a married homeschooling mother of three girls who has penned and published over 20 books on life, faith, family business, and fiction — all while working as a substitute teacher and virtual assistant, running two businesses, traveling to speak at various events, hosting an international radio show, and hosting her own events! When she’s not running the world, she enjoys gaming, crossword puzzles, and making board games.

Edits, graphics, and updates by Gina Noble.

Organize Your Homeschool

Organize Your Homeschool

Even for the naturally tidy parent, the ability to organize your homeschool can feel like a daunting task. 
This is so much more than laundry, meals, and getting to ball practice on time. You’ve taken on the immense responsibility of educating your children. Disorganization in your homeschool can leave mom feeling overwhelmed and on the edge of burnout. As bad as that is, there’s more. 

Disorganization by Definition

What is disorganization, anyway? You might think organization is cleanliness, but that’s just the fruit of organization.
So, what are we talking about? Disorganization is defined as a “lack of proper planning and control” or “inability to plan one’s affairs or activities efficiently.”
If we apply this definition to homeschooling, it’s easy to get a mental picture. Every homeschool parent has been there.  It might look like being late to important events or not being able to find papers, books, curriculum, supplies when you need them. It can make the homeschooling parent look out of control of the situation to outsiders and even her own family.
And does she feel this? She does. The stress of disorganization is real and it can completely derail your homeschool!

How Disorganization Impacts Homeschool Children

  1. Disrupts focus. Disorganization keeps everyone in multitasking mode rather than deep focus mode. This can make study time more challenging.
  2. Disruptive behavior surfaces. This study demonstrates the impact of clutter and disorganization on our children’s brains. Emotionally regulation is impacted.
  3. Embarrassment.  When children are small, they don’t show embarrassment the same way an older child might experience embarrassment about their surroundings, but disorganization on our part can be a painful experience for our kids.

Disorganization Impacts the Homeschool Mom, too.

When we homeschool, the truth is our homes are in a perpetual state of looking pretty lived-in. Our kids have Lego projects going on, science experiments on the kitchen table, and don’t even get me started on books! 
So, there is a certain amount of clutter we’re likely to live with in this step of our mom journey. But, when it tips over and touches our inability to keep our head on straight (can’t I just have a quiet corner to sip this cup of coffee?), or getting to important places on time (why can’t I find my keys?), or simply finding a pair of matching shoes or socks — it impacts our blood pressure, cortisol, and general mood. 

What We Can Do to Organize Our Homeschool

While the idea of getting organized can feel a little scary, it will bless our families in the long run. And you’ll feel relief at being able to relax in your surroundings!

What can we do?

  1. Set up systems in our home that support us.
  2. Make decisions about what is most important in our surroundings.
  3. Create a rhythm of organization in your homeschool.

No need to embrace mom-guilt, take simple steps to start organizing today. 

 

Still need help? We’ve got you covered with this How to Organize Your Homeschool Masterclass. 

 

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

I read a book in parts and pieces at a book store and liked it so much that I later purchased it. The main premise of the book is that Everything is Figureoutable; the ultimate growth mindset. It is a perfect phrase to be continually testifying to yourself. I say it to myself all the time. Cause, true confessions, life makes it easy to get stuck.

We get stuck with people and circumstances. All.the.time.

And Homeschooling, by its very nature, gives us many, many opportunities to get stuck. Stuck, but good.

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

Most of us have little-to-no training about child-rearing, education, or even the basics of homemaking or bill paying. Many of us can’t cook in early adulthood, don’t like to clean, and avoid paying bills. But adulthood requires that we figure stuff out. That, or we stay stuck and feel frustrated. Sometimes we stay stuck for a very long time. We think we aren’t good with money. Or we missed the grammar gene. Or we are not creative. We keep ourselves stuck because we don’t believe we have what it takes. Can I get a witness?

The good news about homeschooling and home management is that it is figureoutable. And honestly, once we’ve figured it out, it can be gratifying work: soul-filling and world-changing work.

Don’t Get Stuck

However, if you’ve been thrust into homeschooling, or are trying to do it while working, or brought your kids with an undiagnosed learning difficulty home, getting things figured out can be overwhelming. So, let me help with some basic lists of things you might want to figure out. It’s not exhaustive or personalized; it’s just a starting place. A place to take a stand and feel successful once you’ve figured out a few things so that you can continue gaining skills and so that the next success seems even more attainable.

Things you will need to figure out to homeschool well:

  • What is your teaching style?
  • How much time do you have to teach, given your other responsibilities?
  • What are your kids’ learning styles (to shore up your students’ areas of challenge and to utilize their areas of nature ability)
  • What educational pedagogies produce the results you are looking for?
  • Is your student gifted, 2E, LD, or at a traditional grade level? The greater the disparity between your student’s ability and areas of challenge, the more easily frustrated they might feel –and that goes back to the figureoutability –  but that’s a whole different conversation.
  • What is your minimum and maximum budget for books and curriculum?
  • What resources do you have for travel and experience-based learning?
  • What will you give up to homeschool? Time, money, resources, a career, advancement, etc.?
  • Where in your house (or out of it) will you homeschool?
  • What storage areas do you have available to house homeschooling supplies such as books, curriculum, writing utensils, computers, printers, etc.?
  • What will be your basic schedule?
  • What is your goal for homeschooling?
  • What is your strategy for accomplishing your homeschooling goal?
  • Which parent will be primarily responsible for homeschooling?
  • Who will you homeschool with? A co-op, in-person classes, online programs, a hybrid, or UMS?
  • What unique resources do you bring to the table as you homeschool? Are you an RV family? Do you own your own business, travel extensively, or is Grandma available to take one or more of the kids regularly?
  • What will free time look like for your kids?
  • What will your morning and evening routines consist of?
  • How will the homeschooling day begin?
  • How will the homeschooling day end?
  • How will you manage electronics in your home?
  • How will you know if homeschooling is a success?
  • Will you homeschool all of your kids?
  • Will you homeschool them using the same pedagogy and curriculum?

Related things to figure out:

  • How will meal planning, shopping, prep, and clean-up be managed?
  • How will clothes and laundry be managed- gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting clothes away?
  • How will schedules be managed? This becomes more important to figure out as the parent(s) have more outside responsibilities like jobs or caring for an elderly relative?
  • Who will pay the bills and set the budget for homeschooling expenses, activities, experiences, and travel?
  • Who will transport kids to activities, programs, therapies, and the like?

Figuring it All Out

Homeschooling does not have to be complicated. But homeschooling is work. We dedicate time and resources towards it, and like all work, the more we can adequately do the prep work and plan the execution, the more successful we’ll be at meeting our goals and launching our kids.

But don’t worry. What you don’t know currently is figureoutable. And every success you have will lead to another success. Every obstacle overcome is one step closer to your goal. You’ve got this, Momma!

More Resources

If you’re looking for a community of like-minded homeschoolers headed True North, we’d love to have you join our community! Let us help each other “figure it ALL out”  with encouragement and support – plus free training, advice, and resources to help you figure out the challenges you face!

And if you want to read more about homeschool organization and planning, take a look at our resources for Homeschooling 101- Where to Begin and tips for how to Manage My Home & Time or encouragement and resources for families of children with special needs.

Homeschooling and working mom

True North Teachers Share Back to Homeschool Traditions

True North Teachers Share Back to Homeschool Traditions

It’s that time of year again – back to homeschool! And that means back to school traditions!

Homeschoolers use their educational freedom to teach their kids in a style and on a schedule that suits their family. That means that some homeschool all year ‘round, others started weeks ago, and some have not yet begun.

It’s the same here at True North Homeschool Academy -some of our online classes have started while others, including our homeschool clubs, will begin later on in September.

We have found that even though we are not returning to a “school building,” home educators have their own back to school traditions.  There is excitement in the air as many of us are beginning a new homeschool year, meeting new students and friends, sharpening those Ticonderogas, and cracking open our shiny, new curriculum.

Some families have simple traditions such as purchasing new p.j.’s, kicking off the year with a field trip, or participating in the online National Homeschool Spirit Week, which is the 4th week of September every year.

We asked some of the Academy teachers to share their favorite “Back to Homeschool” traditions and words of advice as we roll into a fresh (and maybe a little challenging) homeschool year.

Traditions We Love

Dana Hanley is our German teacher and her first day of school tradition involves making Schultueten and filling them with candies and small school supplies. It is a German thing, but over there, the class party is on the first day of class, not the last day of class. Dana says: “ I really like that general attitude. Last year, we did a brand new outfit for each kid, too, because I randomly thought how much I loved getting new school clothes when I was a kid. All of my kids are asking to repeat that one!”

Homeschool Student Theo Pool learns with a hamster in his pocket

Pets are welcome too in the Pool homeschool room!

Tamara Warner Pool shared with us some words of wisdom and a peaceful way to begin the homeschool year. “My children needed a consistent rhythm and flow to their days, so we would gently enter our new school year and gently exit it for our break times. We don’t have “First Day” photos, and we didn’t have “Last Day” parties, but we did celebrate small accomplishments and goals achieved when any of them crossed a “finish line.” If we were involved in a coop or activity, we would build up to that so everyone was prepared for whatever disruption that would bring to our routines.”

Dr. Kristin Moon reminisced about when her kids were younger. One fun tradition they had was that they got the day off on their birthdays (hers too!). As the kids got older and co-ops and college classes mandated, they come to class even on their birthday that changed, but they all still remember those days fondly. She advises us to prioritize relationships over the curriculum. “We get so caught up on finishing books or getting through a lesson plan that it can be easy to overlook when a kid just wants some mom time. As homeschoolers, we can put the books and lesson plans aside when our kids need us to. Don’t ALWAYS be in teacher mode. Yes, as homeschoolers, we are always learning, but don’t turn everything into a forced lesson. It’s ok to go to the beach and enjoy each other’s company; you don’t have to quiz them on how tides are formed. My third piece of advice: don’t get so wrapped up in your role as a homeschool mom that you forget the person who you were created to be. Continue to make time for friendships, your health, your marriage, and your hobbies.”

Sonya Goodwin Hemmings encourages us to: “Be careful as you tailor your students’ education not to eliminate all of the obstacles that threaten to stand in their way. Struggle always precedes growth. It is quite essential. And when parents and their children pray and persevere together through a difficult subject or even a difficult year, the rewards that lie on the other side —shared knowledge, special bonding, and confidence to dig into the next challenge — are incredibly sweet.”

Emily Harkey counsels homeschool parents to “Pray…a lot!” and offers practical tips and reminders. “Think about dinner when you wake up and use a crockpot or Instapot as much as tolerated by your people. Make eating cereal for dinner a special treat when needed. Give lots of hugs and smiles and affirmations throughout the day, especially to your older kids who can work on their own while you work with your littles. During the younger years, remember that if you’ve been able to touch the three R’s every day: reading, writing, and arithmetic- that is an EXCELLENT school day…even if you are unable to replicate it again in another week’s time. Give yourself some slack and grace. Take a teacher’s “in-service day” when you need it and have your kids clean while you take a day away to work on you, and go to the dentist or get your hair cut. Organization and routine is your friend. Pray for your kids and all those who influence them.”

BJ Prammon, our Art teacher, points out that “back to school” can be casual and doesn’t have to be routine. “Our most prominent tradition for back to homeschool is really our lack of formal tradition. I never remember to take a “ first day of school” picture. Back to school shopping really doesn’t happen until October. I don’t like making school charts, and my kids don’t like following them. Even as I write this, I haven’t gotten around to ordering a social studies curriculum for my oldest. I’ll get around to it. We start on a different week every year, with different curriculum and different learning strategies, different goals, and, frequently, different opinions. If any of that could be rolled up into some sort of formal stab at useful information, I suppose it would be this: Don’t let what other people are doing dictate your own groove. Don’t let what last year looked like keep you from exploring this year to its fullest potential, even if last year was a really good year, but especially if last year was a ‘bad’ one.”

Whether you are already back in the swing of things or still in the planning phase, what we can all take away from this collective wisdom is that the key to a great start is concentrating on keeping a school/life balance and focusing on what works for our family.

A huge thank you to these True North Academy Teachers for taking time out of their busy schedules to their back to school traditions  with us!

 

What is Project-Based Learning?

What is Project-Based Learning?

What is Project-Based Learning?

What is Project Based Learning? It is learning by creating a tangible project is one of the best ways to build a new skill, explore new opportunities, and discover what you enjoy.

Rather than focusing on getting specific subjects done lesson by lesson, project-based learning uses completed projects as educational mile-markers. This approach gives students physical representations of the skills they have built, and a sense of satisfaction in their creative ability at the end of every project.

The best part about project-based learning is that it can be plugged into many different homeschool methods. Into roadschooling? Add a couple projects related to your travels. Like a highly-structured approach? Include small projects as assignments. Unschooling? Help your kids craft projects that are related to the interests you see them building.

How to Build a Project Around a Learning Objective

There are two ways to use a project as a learning opportunity:

  1. Use the project as the end goal.
  2. Use the project to get to a goal.

When you use the project as an end goal, you focus on learning whatever you can to get the project done. An example of this would be “I’m going to build a tepee.” Then you’d study tepee-building techniques, learn about American Indians and their survival skills, build a science journal documenting what you need, and go on a field trip to source the building materials you need. Each of these skills and experiences would be a byproduct of your end goal: building a tepee. This is a great way to help a child or teen who has big ideas but needs some guidance on actually putting them into action.

Using a project to get to an end goal is slightly different. With this approach, a specific skill set is often an end goal, and the project is simply a way to get to that goal. A great example of this would be “I want to build writing skills.” Then you’d put together a project idea based on this goal: maybe you’d plan to publish a book, put together a creative writing journal, or use one prompt per day to push your writing ability to the next level. The options are endless! 

If you’re helping a younger child learn, I highly recommend focusing on the first method of project-based learning. Watch any child at play and you’ll see they learn quickly and easily when they have a specific project to learn by! The second method is great to implement with an older child or a teen who really wants to focus on building a specific skill.

Using the Project As the End Goal for Project Based Learning

I’m convinced that projects teach you a combination of more skills than anything else can. Most of the time, you won’t even know the skills you’re building until you look back on the project.

I coach the Philosophy module at Praxis. Instead of just studying philosophy, we focus each week around a project: a video that relates to the concepts we covered in the week’s worth of content. Every participant that comes through this module is amazed at the skills they build just by creating something to go along with the information they’re studying. 

  • They build public speaking and debate abilities. 
  • They figure out basic video editing. 
  • They learn how to boil a big idea down into concepts that anyone can understand (sales!).
  • They learn to quickly pick out what makes a good and bad video.
  • They begin to understand basic filming technique like lighting, posture, enunciation, and much more. 

After making one video every week for a month, participants at Praxis suddenly realize how much they have learned from the video creation! 

  1. Do you or your child have a great idea for something to create? That’s your project.
  2. Expand on the project idea, brainstorming the possible skills that can be gained from it.
  3. Build a plan that will help your child maximize on the skills they can gain from the project.
  4. Figure out a daily and weekly action plan and goals that you can work toward.
  5. Document the project at each step of the way. A good completed project has plenty of documentation to go with it, whether it’s a little science journal, a slideshow with videos showing progress, or a write-up that showcases what your child has completed.

Using the Project to Get to a Goal for Project Based Learning

Projects make learning fun again! They’re also easier to showcase than tests and other methods of scoring learning ability, and they’re much more pleasant to look back on. 

Using this method of project building requires you (or your child) to be highly goal-oriented. It means that you need to see past the project you are creating to the end goal of the skillset you will have built in the end.

In my work at Praxis, I always look for opportunities to branch out and learn new things that make me more valuable both to the company and otherwise.

I’ve always wanted to build a skillset in video editing, but that dream never got past the “great idea” stage in my mind. But when an opportunity came around to film and edit the Office Hours Podcast, I recognized that this was my opportunity to fulfill my dream of getting into video editing.

So I took on the project of producing this podcast. I made a lot of mistakes, stressed out some, and watched countless Youtube videos. But by now I’ve had over 50 hours of editing experience with Premiere Pro, having worked on anything from simple social media videos to ads to podcast episodes. I’ve still got a long way to go, but this project helped my dream of being a video editor come true. 

  1. Determine the goal. Here’s how to set goals that you can actually achieve!
  2. Break the goal down into manageable chunks depending on the child’s age and experience level.
  3. Brainstorm 3-5 possible project ideas with your child.
  4. After letting the project ideas sit for a little, narrow the project ideas down to the one that you both like the best!
  5. Break the project up into daily and weekly goals that you can keep track of.
  6. Don’t forget to document the project as you build it! This is the fun part- make a daily drawing of where you are in the project if it’s applicable. Take a picture every day of the child with the project. Let them make short videos talking about what they learned in the process. The options are endless!

What is project based learning?

I’ve laid out a step-by-step plan that can be used for a 6-month-long project like a research paper on a topic your child is passionate about. But it can also be applied to a field trip that you’re taking to a science museum for another child with a curious mind.

I’ve geared this article toward homeschool moms looking for ways to teach their kids new skills via projects. But this method is applicable to projects you’re completing for yourself as well. Projects don’t stop when you turn 18 and graduate. In fact, they give you a method for teaching yourself anything, anytime in life! 

My point is that project-based learning is a mindset and a way of life, not just an educational plug-in. That’s why it’s so valuable.

(If you loved this post be sure to check out 8 Software Tools that Teens Can Master.)

 

How to Perpare Your Kids for After Graduation Lolita Allgyer

 

Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who is passionate about education, specifically in the arena of helping individuals learn how to educate themselves. She works for Praxis, an alternative education company that combines a 6-month professional bootcamp and a 6-month apprenticeship at a startup. This post was originally published here on the Praxis blog.

 

 

 

Is your student tired of boring worksheets? Maybe it's time to try project based learning. Check out this post to learn what project based learning is and how you can make it work for your student. #homeschooling #truenorthhomeschoolacademy #projectbasedlearning