Sometimes homeschool is all about survival!
I remember well, especially in our first years of homeschooling, that many days I felt I was simply trying to keep my head above water.
You name it, and as a homeschooling mom we probably have a mechanism (or favorite resource) in place to help us survive this thing called homeschool!
Here goes: 25 Things for Homeschool Survival
1. A Sense of Humor
Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Child A is having a meltdown at the kitchen table. Child B (not to be outdone) is have a meltdown regarding those pesky math drills that mom requires. The dog poops right in front of you. The doorbell rings and it's the pest control people and you've forgotten they were coming today.
Then, Child A (who has been pulling on a loose tooth while waiting for you to cajole Child B to do their math drills), loses said tooth but throws it away -- the thought of the tooth fairy not coming is the undoing of Child A!
Then... to top it all of... dad walks in the door from a long day at work.
(These were actual events in my house.)
Having a sense of humor can help with homeschool survival. Have you read The Homeschool Experiment? You should. It will make you laugh, cry, and realize that life is short and time homeschooling our children is precious, despite the crazy days that often ensue.
(And -- there is a solution for most things -- even teeth that have been thrown away!)
You must have a sense of humor for homeschool survival!
2. Plan to Eat
Seriously, this IS Homeschool Survival.
Somehow it's easy for me to homeschool all day long, but it feels like such a chore to get dinner on the table every night. When I am prepared and organized, however, that totally changes.
I have used Plan to Eat for several years. I can catalog my recipes, create a meal plan, and it automatically generates a shopping list.
I never wonder about what we're going eat, and can easily look back at previous menus if I'm stuck about what to put on the week's menu.
Last week's menu included:
- Anne's Easy Taco Casserole
- Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches
- Chicken & Rice Casserole
- Crock Pot - Style Loaded Baked Potato Soup
I HIGHLY recommend this meal planning tool. (If you join we can be friends and share recipes -- isn't that fun? Try Plan to Eat for free... I bet you'll like it.)
Effective meal planning ensures homeschool survival!
So cliche, but my cup of coffee in the morning is something to look forward to and it gives me energy to start the day.
I need this mug, though.
My chiropractor told me that just one cup of coffee each day contains a good amount of antioxidants - so drinking coffee is good for you, see?
(I'm going with that.)
Coffee = Homeschool Survival
4. QUIET TIME
Seriously, I need quiet sometimes.
There are times when a certain child in my house talks SO MUCH that I feel I could just explode.
I've actually uttered the words, "Please stop talking until the clock gets to xyz. Mommy's ears need a break."
Is that horrible?
Putting systems in place, however, so I can get some quiet is very important to the survival of everyone in my house. Whether it is taking a walk, afternoon quiet time for everyone in their rooms, or letting the kids watch a movie, quiet is important!
Quiet is ESSENTIAL to Homeschool Survival! Make it a daily habit for ALL ages and your life will be so much happier.
OK -- Sharpies make EVERYTHING better.
You can grade math with them and use fun colors.
You can trace maps with them.
You can make tie dye Sharpie Bandanas.
They look great just sitting there in a Mason Jar -- almost begging you to use them!
Sharpies help with Homeschool Survival!
If you're going to survive at homeschool you actually have to be at home.
Don't spread yourself so thin that you don't have TIME to homeschool.
Our best years have been the ones where we minimized outside commitments and classes, and just LEARNED at home.
(That doesn't mean field trips don't count, but you know what I mean.)
More time = better Homeschool Survival!
7. A Professional Library
Homeschooling is a profession - a very important profession.
As with any other profession, it requires study and time for personal development.
There are a few books I keep on my shelves and re-read each year.
I glean something different each year from the resources because my children are ever growing and changing.
It's important that you KNOW ABOUT HOW TO HOMESCHOOL!
8. A GOOD Pencil Sharpener
What is it about pencil sharpeners? We have been through quite a few, and I finally broke down and purchased a GOOD one.
Oh, and pencils seem to disappear like crazy, too (I still don't have any answer for that one!).
Seriously, when it comes time to sit down and do work, why is it that people always say "I can't find a pencil!" or "My pencil isn't sharp!"
9. Dry-Erase Markers with Pom Poms
I saw this awesome trick on Pinterest and we've been using it. Total genius.
Super glue a craft pom pom on the end of your Expos -- instant eraser!
No more searching for erasers or using paper towels.
Homeschool Survival Tip #9 is a winner!
10. Answer Buzzers
Your kids will come up with all kinds of fun ways to use them.
They can make math facts more fun, Latin Declensions more palatable, and more.
When everyone is laughing, and learning becomes more of a game, your Homeschool Survival rate goes UP!
11. Notebooking Pages
You KNEW I had to put this one in this list.
I cannot tell you how many times Notebooking Pages has saved my bacon.
There is a notebooking page for everything -- and my kids notebook just about everything, too.
I love notebooking for so many reasons -- you can visit the how to notebooking section on the blog to see how to notebook and why we love it so much.
Being able to see learning documented in notebooks, and knowing my kids enjoy it so much is essential to my homeschool survival!
12. Dry Erase Boards
(This goes right along with the Dry Erase Marker Pom Poms)
We have individual dry erase boards - one for each child, and one for me - the teacher.
(I love these particular boards because they are just $4 each.)
I love them for math, diagramming sentences, games, and tons of other things.
It's just so easy to have dry erase boards at the ready.
(Oh, I've also drawn a bullseye on a dry erase board, sent a certain hyper child to the backyard, and instructed him to use his Nerf Guns to hit the bullseye.)
Homeschool Survival essential #12 = Dry Erase Boards! --- and maybe a Nerf Gun or two
13. Page Protectors
Page protectors are great for so many reasons.
My daughter uses the same planning sheet for her schoolwork each week. She simply puts it in a page protector, and uses her Expos to write down assignments.
We put notebooking pages in them to keep them from being destroyed.
My kids (both avid musicians) print music from online and put them in sheet protectors in their music notebooks.
The uses are ENDLESS!
Less paper and protected work means Homeschool Survival!
Yes, I did say BRIBERY. (Maybe incentive is a better word.)
Sometimes my kids need a little motivation to complete a very hard task.
A little bowl of chocolate chips is our treat of choice, but hot chocolate and fancy hot tea and cider are also favorites.
They know that while they are tackling something tough, there is a little something sweet to go with it.
Nothing wrong with that, is there?
Sometimes we forget that kids are a lot like US -- they respond to the same motivators and need the same encouragement we do.
15. Use Over the Door Organizers to Store Supplies
We school A LOT in our kitchen, but there's not much storage there.
I took an over the door organizer, hung it on the inside of the door going to the basement, and filled it with school supplies.
Talk about survival!
Now, we can open the door and pull out anything we need. Close the door and you would never know all of those supplies are there!
As you can see, mine's not very neat -- but it holds everything from stickers and tape to glue and pointers and pom poms.
When I bought this contraption and hung it on the basement door, I immediately felt better, know that I mean?
16. ONE Bookshelf
You may disagree with me on this one.
We only use ONE BOOKSHELF to hold the resources for the current homeschool year.
We rely a lot on the library and online resources, and the few resources I do keep out on the shelf are well loved and valuable.
Clutter really drives me bananas. When our homeschool supplies are orderly and visible, things tend to run more smoothly.
Less is more. That is key to MY Homeschool Survival!
17. Play GAMES!
If you want to survive in homeschool, you need to make it fun. Play GAMES with your kids, lots of them.
Our 5 favorite games for learning (and just for fun) include:
I've also found that homeschool MATH survival depends largely on GAMES. The more you can make math a game, the better.
Have you seen Scholastic Mega Fun Card Game Math? We LOVE the games in this book!
18. Cut Notebooks in Half!
I love this idea and we'll be trying it this year.
I have a son who loves to write and doodle, and he's forever using notebooks -- but he rarely fills up a full page.
This idea is GENIUS and will definitely contribute to my homeschool survival!
19. Plastic Tablecloths
We have several plastic tablecloths, and my kids know that if they want to do something messy all they have to do is cover the kitchen table with one of the cloths.
If the cloth gets SUPER messy we can just throw it away.
I used to be a huge stickler about messes, and I quickly learned that I would SINK as a homeschooling mom if messes bothered me.
This one little thing really helps me be more flexible!
20. A Good Record Keeping System
Whatever system works for you, just make sure you stick with it .
We happen to use Homeschool Minder and love it.
Especially as your children approach high school, you need to be in the habit of keeping GOOD records!
We use a lot of baskets.
They can contain books, supplies, and whatever else doesn't have a home at the moment.
A note, however: you need to clean the baskets out periodically, or else they will just be junk collectors!
No matter the amount of little homeschool clutter lying around, it can always be put in a basket and things look neat and tidy.
That's great for the homeschool survival of a Type A mom like me!
This should go without saying, but homeschool moms (and moms everywhere) need to get enough sleep.
Many nights I feel like I NEED to stay up late to accomplish whatever the task.
But, a night of good sleep is worth so much more than anything I could have accomplished burning the midnight oil.
A good night's sleep is essential for Homeschool Survival.
23. An Interest OTHER THAN HOMESCHOOLING
It's very easy for homeschooling to overtake our lives.
Having an interest other than homeschooling is SO IMPORTANT - even if that interest is as simple as reading books for pleasure or getting together with the girls every now and then.
When all we focus on is homeschool, it becomes an altar of sorts and sucks us DRY.
(ask me how I know)
24. A Laundry System
The laundry system in our house isn't anything fancy.
There is one basket outside of the kids' rooms for their dirty clothes, and a hamper in my bedroom for mom and dad's clothes.
I DO NOT do all of the laundry by myself. My kids are old enough to help and take responsibility for their own clean clothes.
Twice each week the kids help me gather the laundry and we do a load of lights and darks. We wash sheets once every two weeks and towels once a week.
When the laundry is done I give it to the kids and they put it away in their rooms.
I'm fairly confident that in my absence everyone would carry on with laundry duties.
When you are home all day and homeschooling your kids you can't be worrying about the laundry constantly -- come up with a system and STICK TO IT.
25. A Healthy Homeschool Parent
I saved this one for last because I truly feel it is the MOST IMPORTANT thing for Homeschool Survival.
If mom (or dad - or both) isn't healthy, there is little room for your homeschool to be healthy, either. By HEALTHY I mean taking care of yourself - exercising, eating properly, etc...
I recently got a FitBit (Happy 18th Anniversary from my husband) and I love how it keeps me accountable with my steps each day. Plus, it has caller ID on the watch face (how cool is that?) so when we are schooling and I get a call, it just vibrates and I can see if I need to take it or not - without interrupting our school day.
Between that and Shakeology, I'm doing pretty well. It's all about self discipline, self respect, and plain old hard work.
I believe, however, that my family is worth it.
Whew -- that's it! 25 Things for Homeschool Survival.
I hope you found some good ideas and maybe laughed a little, too.
Is there a particular thing that is necessary for the survival of your homeschool? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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