As we are gearing up for a new homeschool year, I've been thinking A LOT about what homeschool REALLY requires. This series is designed to give an honest picture of homeschool. It is designed to encourage, enlighten, and support you.
If it challenges you -- all the better!
Remember: you cannot depend on a boxed curriculum, franchised community, or local co-op to give you a successful homeschool. A successful homeschool requires commitment, love, courage, and consistency.
I just LOVE what a Homegrown Learners Facebook fan said on the page this week:
I often get so caught up in the nitty gritty details of homeschool that I forget to show to love my kiddos.
Something as basic as showing love each and every day can make such a difference in our homeschool, but there have been days when it has eluded me.
I love writing a blog because it forces me to take a long, hard look at MYSELF.
Here is a challenge for all of us:
What if we made it a priority this year to SHOW LOVE EXCESSIVELY to our children? What if we put that ahead of mastering math facts, spelling tests, and science experiments? What if we showed love excessively on the worst days of our homeschool?
What if SHOWING LOVE was our focus this year?
I often forget to show love because I am so COMMITTED to homeschooling them well. I forget the most basic requirement of not only homeschooling - but motherhood in general, and that is to show my children LOVE unconditionally and often.
I want to keep loving my kids front and center this year so I've created a list of 25 Ways to Show Love in Your Homeschool Day. Print this and put it in your planner, homeschool mom binder, or wherever else you might be forced to see it EVERY DAY.
Scroll to the end of the post to download a FREE PRINTABLE of the bullet point version of this list. (But, I do hope you read this post, because I expand on each of the 25 ways and include links, ideas, and lots more to get you motivated!)
1. Give hugs
It's easy to hug on our little ones, isn't it? As our children age we need to keep pursuing them. Physical touch is important to our teens.
2. Smile a lot
Do you ever stop during the day and check your demeanor? Do you smile enough? I know how much a smile from my kiddos warms my heart, so I can only imagine what a smile from mom does for them.
3. Be silly
I don't know why I feel like I have to be the "strict teacher" during our homeschool day. Who says math can't be fun? I remember pulling out every stuffed animal in my son's closet once to illustrate story problems. I gave them all different voices and personalities and we had the BEST time.
(Being silly is super good for the homeschool mom's mental health, too.)
4. Give compliments
Do you compliment your children more than you criticize them? I am guilty of having impossibly high standards, and I've had to make an effort to compliment my children. Don't make the compliments hollow - be genuine. You can ALWAYS find something good about what your children are doing.
5. Show patience
This one is EXTRA HARD for me. When we are in the middle of an Algebra breakdown, the best thing I can do is hold my tongue, keep my patience, and breathe. My children need to know I love them regardless of their understanding of any academic subject, and showing patience is essential.
6. Give them M&Ms
Ok, maybe not M&Ms - just whatever food treat speaks to your child. My kids love M&Ms, and when I unexpectedly set down a muffin cup of M&Ms in front of them (during their hardest subject), it conveys a lot of LOVE.
Tip: Candy is a wonderful motivator for kids who don't like to do math drills - just sayin'.
7. Play games
Incorporate fun games into your homeschool day. Our children will remember a mom that made learning FUN. Even if you aren't a mom that enjoys playing games, you can make it through Yahtzee, UNO, or yes - even a game of Monopoly.
Designate one entire school day as a game day. You'll be amazed at the fun you have.
Do we really LISTEN to how our children are feeling about something? Or, do we just continue on with the lesson plan even if it means our kids are miserable?
If our children sit down for their school day with something bothering them, stop and LISTEN to them. We're homeschooling because we want to seize those important times with our children, and listening is the best way to do that.
9. Read Aloud
No matter their age, reading aloud signifies a mom's willingness to slow down and invest in her children. The cuddles and connections during read aloud time are so precious.
We have made so many memories this way, and I am collecting quite a list of favorites, too!
And yes, teens love to be read to, as well.
Nothing says "I love you" more strongly than apologizing to our children when we have wronged them. It's very simple, but not always so easy to do.
11. Plan ahead
Stick with me on this one. Planning ahead allows for us to enjoy our homeschool days more. If we're not flying by the seat of our pants, we are smiling more, laughing more, and able to incorporate more fun things with our children because we know we've planned well and have the basics covered.
This year I'm putting extra time into planning, knowing that it will pay off in spades throughout the school year.
(I am using this great tool for homeschool moms and it's been so helpful.)
12. Say "I love you."
Sounds obvious, right?
Maybe not so much.
I tell my children I love them a lot, but recently I've been making an effort to look them straight in the eye and say "I love you." It's not a causal "I love you" as they are walking out the door, or sent via text (remember I am the mom of a teen), it's taking the time to connect and say the words with intention and feeling.
13. Create special days
My son still remembers the day I woke him up and said, "No school today! It's ANGRY BIRDS DAY!" We did nothing but Angry Birds themed activities all day - and while it did take some planning on my part it was entirely worth it!
14. Speak your child's love language
My oldest child's love language is quality time. Let me rephrase that. Her love language is Starbucks time!
Taking my daughter out for a fancy coffee, just the two of us, speaks her love language.
My son's love language is physical touch, so lots of hugs and cuddles (even as he's getting older) mean a lot to him.
If you haven't read Gary Chapman's book, you really should.
15. Have a party for no reason
This is one straight from my own childhood.
I can vividly remember being 7 years old and very sad because my brother had gone away to college - which left me at home as an only child. One day I got off the bus and walked home, and when I arrived there was a huge sign on the front door that said, "Happy Birthday!" It wasn't my birthday, nor was it anyone's birthday in my family. My mom had created an entire birthday party for my stuffed animals.
She baked a cake, sewed a few of them little birthday outfits, and even got them "presents".
I still remember this day - 37 years later.
It was through little things like this I just knew my mom loved me, and she showed it in so many special ways.
So, when homeschool starts getting rough in the middle of the winter -- have a party for no reason!
16. Read the Bible every day
Your children will know you love them because you are investing in the most important thing with them - knowing God's word.
Deep down, children don't want to get away with bad things. They crave structure and discipline.
Another post in this series will talk about homeschooling and CONSISTENCY... and we must discipline our children with love and consistency if we are to be successful parents.
18. Bake with them
Some of our fondest memories have been created in the kitchen, baking together. It's a time when we can talk, be silly - and even LEARN a lot, too.
We've had book dinners, which have required a lot of prep time in the kitchen. These dinners, which would usually center around our current Five in a Row book, not only were learning experiences, but experiences of our hearts, too.
19. Get outside
Sometimes, when a homeschool day had spiraled downward quickly, getting outside and going for a nature walk was the best medicine.
There's something about being surrounded by God's majesty that just made it EASIER for me to show my kids I loved them. Everyone was happier, the grumpiness was left inside the house, and our moods all changed.
Please don't think there isn't time for nature walks and leisurely afternoons. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our children need to know we forgive them - for whatever they have done, no matter the severity.
Saying the words, "I forgive you" and then following up with a hug, smile, or listening ear are so very important.
21. Do something your kids love (but you don't)
I don't really ENJOY playing LEGOS, but my son loves it when I ask him if I can build something with him.
My daughter likes it when I just sit and read a book next to her while she is reading a book, too. So simple, right?
Our willingness to step out of ourselves for our children shows them we love them. (And, you might surprise yourself by trying something you didn't think you'd like.)
22. Do something unexpected
When things get rough in your homeschool, try something unexpected.
What if you brought home a gallon of double fudge ice cream, turned on a fun movie, and curled up on the sofa with your kids and some spoons?
What if you hooked up the hose, put on your bathing suit, collected the water guns, and offered to play outside in the summer heat?
Whatever it is for you that would be unexpected, do it!
23. Lavish praise
Do you remember to praise your kids? This goes along with complimenting them.
Do you point out all of the good they are doing, or do you just nitpick what they AREN'T doing well?
Once you find the good, reinforce it verbally.
Do you say "Good job", "I know you can do this", or "You amaze me"?
24. Don't overcommit
Homeschool moms have a tendency to be generous and giving.
Don't let this very good quality turn into your very worse quality.
Limit your activities so you can focus on WHY you are homeschooling in the first place - your children. If you are too busy volunteering at church and helping every friend in need your own family will suffer .
The best way to show your children is to exercise restraint in your commitments and make homeschooling a priority.
One day your children will be grown and you want to look back on the years you had with them and not have regrets.
(How did my own children get this big?)
Praying for you children is the ultimate way to show them you love them. When we lift up our children and their needs to our Father we are showing our children the first line of defense in any problem.
Don't ever forget to pray for your children.
Put it in a prominent place in your home. Place it in the front of your homeschool mom binder. Put it in your morning time basket. We all LOVE our kids fiercely, but we need reminders to SHOW that love on a daily (and hourly!) basis.
This post is the second in the series - Homeschool Requires.
Click here to read part 1: Homeschool Requires Commitment
And now I'd love to hear from you! Do you have creative ways to show love in your homeschool day? Do you find it hard on certain days to show love. Do you just need to be reminded?