The new school year starts in less than a week and I’m writing this as a homeschooler, so I should be very stressed right now, however, 2017 is now going to be our 5th year homeschooling and in the past couple of years I have worked out several things that make my life much easier and less stressful!
Since I have been asked so many times about homeschooling, how it works and my tips regarding it, I thought I’d better write about it!
1. Don’t Reinvent the Curricular Wheel
My biggest tip would be: buy Curriculum linked books! When homeschooling in Australia you have to follow the Australian Curriculum and you get a moderator visiting you on a regular basis to check that you are on track and that the children are progressing in their education. How often that happens, depends on the state you live in – in WA we get a visit once a year. Technically, you wouldn’t have to buy any books as long as you can show that you cover everything in the Curriculum. It is doable: you could search the internet for free print outs, use other online resources, write things out, read library books, watch documentaries, do excursions, the list is endless. And as a homeschooler you’ll be doing all of those things anyway! Hence I do them on top of Curriculum linked books, as a supplement, because then I have a guarantee that the legal requirement of the Australian Curriculum is fully covered, without wasting any sleep over it. I mean that literally – I used to spend my nights looking for resources online. My sleep suffered, my housekeeping suffered, I hence had less patience for the kids, less energy, bought more take out, etc, etc. Overall – it wasn’t fun or good for the wellbeing of our whole family. Now I buy books at the beginning of the year, make sure we complete them in full, and that’s it! Anything we do on top of that: library, excursions, anything, is just an additional, fun, educational activity that we do as a family and the kids love!
Click here to see which Curriculum linked books we love to use!
2. Hack Organisation
Last year I came up with the easiest way to keep track of our progress throughout the year and staying organised! Each child has a magazine holder with their name on it, which holds all their school books. Then I split each book up into appropriate sections to have completed either each term, each month, etc (whatever works better with the amount of modules/chapters that the given book has). I write it out on some sticker paper, draw boxes to tick sections upon completion, and that’s it! One glance and I know if we’re on track, ahead or behind! Such a simple thing, but sooo very helpful!!
3. Ask For Help
When I was starting out, I met many existing homeschooling mums who seemed to have everything together, their sanity and a clean house! A couple of years into homeschooling I was struggling with the demands of schooling and housewifing and we made a decision to get a cleaner in once a week to take some pressure off me. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea both comfort-wise and budget-wise, and that’s ok. But I want to share this with you, because I was very open about it when we got a cleaner and I found that as I was sharing the news with others, only then did some of the other mums admit they’ve had weekly cleaners all along! I felt like them hiding it contributed to me having unreasonable expectations of myself at the time. We live in a town 600km away from our closest family, and that is the case for many families in this town. If you have family living down the road, asking for help might be as simple as a phone call to them. Otherwise, consider kid-swapping with another homeschooler! No one understands what it’s like to not get a break, like another homeschooling mum with no family in sight! If you find a kindred soul like that, consider regularly having her kids for a few hours in return for her having yours. The kids will build great relationships and you both will have some much needed you time, on a regular basis! So do not be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling with juggling everything. It is not easy, especially when you first start – before you find your feet and figure out routines that suit your family and work for you.
4. Reframe Perfection
Accept that things are perfect the way they are. We no longer have a cleaning lady coming in, for several reasons. Firstly, we have reevaluated our budget, and for us it was an expenditure that is far better spent elsewhere. Secondly, as time went on, I became much more forgiving towards myself about this homeschooling/life/mothering gig. Thirdly, as the kids are now older, we have started family routines that help us stay on top of everything (when not distracted by renovating, which is a whole other story on its own!). I won’t lie, I still love a clean and tidy home, but right now I choose happiness over a Pinterest-perfect house. My mum once said something very simple, but profound to a friend of mine, who was apologetic about the state of her house at the time: “Messy homes are happy homes”. I try to remember that every time I see my children pulling apart the couch and the linen cupboard to make an amazing cubby house! This many years on, I feel I have finally found the balance between having a clean/healthy house, and having happy children making some mess (I mean… memories!) ❤️
This is something relatively new for me, I started striving for minimalism just over a year ago. Less is truly more! Less clothes means a smaller laundry pile and less time spent wondering what to wear! Less trinkets means less dusting! Less furniture means less things to move around to vacuum and mop behind and under, and again – less surfaces to dust! Less mugs means the kids can’t grab a new one every time they want a drink, which means your sink won’t have 20 used cups by mid-morning! A minimalist lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean that you have nothing in your house. It means that you’re surrounded by fewer things, but that everything you own is either useful/practical, or it gives you true joy when you look at it and hold it. I am far from having reached that point at this stage, but my journey has begun and with every bag of things taken to an op shop, I feel lighter and happier! I invite you to join me on this journey!
Remember, your kids are only young for a very short period of time! Be kind to yourself! Make the most of these years, have fun with them, choose joy and happiness and create amazing memories for them to cherish forever!
You’re amazing, and you can do it! ❤️