It isn’t easy to define successful homeschooling.
I have homeschooled my two children for almost a decade and have come to the conclusion that the definition of success is a grey, wishy-washy area. And the answer will vary enormously depending on who you ask.
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Successful homeschooling can mean being accepted into a top university, homeschooling while working full time or getting your child to read an entire book without the need of your help.
My definition of successful homeschooling was just getting through the day without any tears, enjoying what I was doing and raising happy, kind and self-driven young adults.
And managing to arrive at an afternoon activity with a packet of biscuits.
So. How about we go with a few homeschooling tips that I know for sure worked for me? Tips that will go towards making your homeschooling day as smooth and successful as possible.
I feel as though you and I should get to know each other a little better. So, in as few words as possible, I will tell you about our homeschooling experience.
I promise to keep it short.
Successful Homeschooling. My Journey in 9 Short Lines
I started homeschooling my two kids, who were seven and ten at the time, nine years ago.
After studying the benefits of homeschooling, I decided to stay at home with my two kids ( a boy and a girl) every day and do my best to teach them. Even though I had no teaching experience whatsoever.
I played around with many different homeschooling schedules and finally created a routine that suited our family down to the ground.
One that didn’t involve me spending part of the morning crying in the bathroom.
The option of flexibility is why I love homeschooling so much. It is one of the big pluses when it comes to homeschooling vs public schooling.
So? Do I Consider Myself To Be a Successful Homeschooler?
Nine years on and I can tell you that homeschooling was the best decision that I ever made.
It wasn’t always easy, but nevertheless, it was worth it.
My son passed all of his exams (and is currently pursuing his love for music), and my daughter is a very talented and happy young lady. Right now, she is trying to decide if she will take the exam and university route or build herself a website and start earning money.
She also rolls her eyes a lot but I am going to overlook this as I’m pretty sure I did this too at 15.
In answer to the question? Yes. I consider both of my children to be successful homeschooling students.
Even if they do now spend their time teasing me about one thing or another…
If you would like to catch up with what we are doing right now head to my now page – (after you’ve read this post of course!)
Do you have what it takes to be a happy homeschooler? Take this short quiz to find out!
Any homeschooling parent will tell you the same thing. The first year (or so) of homeschooling is a big fat clueless guessing game.
You do what you have to do to get through to dinner time. And the next day, you try something different.
Until you find things that work.
The homeschooling tips that I am about to share with you are ones that I accumulated over the years. I hope they work for you as well as they did for me!
10 Things That Successful Homeschooling Parents Do (Before 10 am)
1. Put Your Shoes On
For the first year or so of our homeschooling journey, if I didn’t plan to leave the house, I would wear my slippers or my socks. Always odd, sometimes clean.
And then a veteran homeschooling friend shared this tip.
Your brain associates wearing shoes ( and certain types of clothes) with getting down to business. It seems the term dress for success means just that.
Regardless of whether you are homeschooling and working full time at home, home educating your kids is a full-time job, and while a pinstripe suit isn’t required, a pair of shoes will tell your brain that it’s time to get some work done.
Everyone has somewhere that they can walk.
Be it on the local beach, around the block, through a park or along the pavements of the neighbourhood.
Walking as a family before you start your day works wonders for everyone’s mindset.
Go for a walk, even if it’s only ten minutes around the block, chat and breathe the air. I promise you, it makes a massive difference to how you and your family will feel about the rest of the day ahead.
3. Write a Page of Mind Dump
Morning pages is an exercise that I have practised daily for almost a decade, and without it, I don’t think I could have got through my homeschooling days quite as calmly as I did.
I discovered this practice when I made it a priority to practice some self-love exercises. Homeschooling is a selfless and often thankless job, and it is essential to take care of yourself right from the start.
“Morning pages aka the mind dump”.
Morning pages consist of writing all of your thoughts down onto paper and then tearing the paper up after you have finished.
I am aware of how weird this sounds, but I cannot stress enough how wonderful this daily exercise is. Do it and I promise that it will go a long way into determining the success of your homeschooling journey.
It’s like offloading every problem and niggle to a friend. Only this friend doesn’t answer back and has got grey lines all over her body.
Seriously, it works. Check out the book here to learn more about morning pages.
4. Meditate or Contemplate. Your Choice
People get frightened of the word meditate; especially busy, stay at home parents. And I understand why. When you have a million things on your to-do list, meditating is the last thing you want to think about.
But meditating doesn’t have to mean that you sit crossed legged on a cushion for an hour with your body contorted into the shape of a lotus. There are many ways to meditate.
Hanging out washing on a sunny morning, stroking the cat on the bed, standing in the bathroom and counting to twenty slowly and purposefully. These are all forms of meditation.
Meditating means simply taking time to stop and look inside. Even if only for three minutes a day.
If you don’t feel ready to practice meditation right now, then take a warm cup of tea, and read some self-love quotes before you begin your day.
5. Begin Your Day With Music
In the ten years that I homeschooled, we always started our day with music.
Both of my kids played instruments and music was their favourite subject.
Beginning the day with music (rather than waiting until the end of the day when everyone was tired) always managed to set a positive homeschooling mood.
If your kids don’t play instruments, then try sitting on the sofa and listening to a piece of classical music or jazz. No one is allowed to talk during the piece though!. Everyone must close their eyes and listen.
(This tip works a treat!) Have your kids try to guess which film, opera or cartoon the piece of music has been used in (this is an excellent strategy for kids who have difficulty listening to more extended pieces of music).
Always start with music. It is calming, soothing and sets the tone (excuse the pun) for the rest of the day.
6. Take Your Homeschool Schedule And Half It
It is very tempting when structuring a homeschool schedule to include every subject you can think of.
Science, Health, Maths, Classical Studies, Geography, Typing skills, Coding…
In an ideal world, our kids would do it all.
But you can’t do everything. Not without burning yourself out. No-one did everything.
If your homeschooling routine looks similar to the Piccadilly Station timetable then your expectations are way too high.
Please lower them.
If you had previously expected to complete lessons one through eight by the end the week then half it. That way, anything past lesson four and you know that you’re winning.
Next, you could read…
7. Eat Breakfast Together
I cannot stress the importance of this homeschooling tip.
Breakfast doesn’t have to mean bacon egg and mushrooms every day, a piece of toast and a bowl of cereal will suffice.
The key here is to take breakfast together. No phones, no planners, no rush.
One child sets the table with spoons and knives, the other put the butter and jam in the centre and then you all sit down together and eat. It’s as simple as that.
Take fifteen minutes to sit down together and remember what’s important. *Parents, please note* you mustn’t talk about what you expect from your kids in the next few hours. This isn’t school time it is family time. Promise me that you will eat your breakfast and relax.
8. Bye Bye Dirty Dishes
Messy house messy mind. Starting your homeschooling schedule with a pile of dirty dishes left over from breakfast (or even worse, the plates from dinner the night before), is a recipe for disaster.
Here’s a tip that I used each day to make the dishes miraculously disappear.
Set the timer (I used the one on the oven) for ten minutes. Play some music, and all get on board. Unless of course you kids are older, in which case you can leave them to it and use this time to indulge in some of the tips above.
9. Seeing Your Future Self
Returning to the meditative path, this is another wonderful technique that everyone, not just homeschooling parents, will benefit from using.
I learned about this technique from this amazing book by Brendon Burchard, and I use it a lot.
Before you move into the next task that you are about to undertake, go somewhere private (garden, bathroom, car), close your eyes and see yourself in the future.
This sounds woo, I know, but stay with me here.
See yourself doing whatever it is you are about to do next.
Teaching the children a math lesson; reading a story, getting onto a zoom call with a colleague, making dinner.
What are you saying? What is your voice like? What does your face look like? How about your body language? How are your kids reacting to you?
Next, ask yourself what it is you want to achieve when you do this task
If the answer to this question is (as mine often was), I would like this maths session to be calm. I don’t want to shout, I want my kids to ‘get it’, I don’t want any tears, then ask yourself how you could achieve this perfect scenario.
It might be that you talk in a lower tone or that you sit next to your child rather than stand over her.
It might be that you let the kids watch TV while you are on your conference call rather than setting them work and worrying throughout the call that they are going to interrupt you.
Now. Take three deep breaths and go and make the vision of the perfect scenario happen. In the best way that you can.
Practice this technique whenever you are about to move into a new transition. Before every new subject, before making lunch, before calling the bank.
How do I want people to respond to me and what can I do to make that happen?
10. Café at Home
Before you start your homeschooling morning make some coffee, hot chocolate or tea.
There is something wonderfully soothing about the smell of warm cocoa or coffee boiling on the stove. If you don’t like milk, then a comforting spicy herbal tea will work just as well.
If you live somewhere hot, then pour a large jug of homemade lemonade or iced tea.
Set yourself up with the prettiest cup and saucer you own, pour your beverage and take your time to sip and enjoy.
Do not save this pleasure until morning tea. There is no time like the present to feel calm.
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Successful Homeschooling in a Nutshell
You don’t need any special skills or a magic curriculum be a successful homeschooling parent.
Just a few tactics.
And preferably a pair of shoes, a speaker and a kettle.
Putting habits and self-preservation techniques into place from the very start of your journey will pay tenfold further down the line -and if it’s any consolation, the fact that you are putting yourself out there into the homeschooling arena in the first place makes you a champion.
Don’t forget that.
Don’t worry Mama (and Papa)
And although at times it may feel as though you are getting everything wrong and your kids aren’t learning as much as you thought they would, please don’t give up.
We all have hard days – weeks sometimes. Months.
Know that this is normal and give yourself a break. (Talking of giving yourself a break, taking a break from social media once a month helps your mood enormously).
Successful homeschooling is often recognised further down the line. Don’t forget that. If there is any other way that I can help you, then please leave a comment below or email me directly and I will answer any questions that you may have.
And remember! If you know of anyone else who would benefit from these homeschooling tips, then please share the love and send them this post! Until we speak again, keep your chin up honey and know that you are doing a tremendous and worthy job.
Why not head over to my now page and check out what our family are doing in New Zealand right now!
Do you have what it takes to be a happy homeschooler? Take this short quiz to find out!