The last few weeks have been more than a little insane here! For those of you who missed it, I’ve been running the Start Homeschooling Summit. Coordinating 34 workshops from 28 presenters across 4 continents and many more timezones was a bit of a juggling act!
But it’s been totally worth it. The expertise and help the presenters brought to all of us is off the charts. Even though I’ve been homeschooling for over 10 years, I learned so much, and even though it’s not quite over it’s already benefiting our family.
Here’s what attendees have said they’ve begun doing. Already, before it’s even finished properly!
- reducing tech use and becoming more intentional and mindful about it (from my workshop about low-tech homeschooling!)
- using a morning basket (hugely popular)
- improving their conflict resolution skills
- taking the stress out of writing
- trusting themselves and their children
- putting more fun into their learning
- intentionally working on their child’s character
- setting up an art area
So many great results and intentions are being shared on the group! It’s wonderful to see the positive change that is already occurring for so many families.
But it’s not just the attendees – here’s what I’ve learned, and what we’re doing about it.
Homeschool parents need to lead
When Kathie Morrissey was talking about frustration and stress, she mentioned that a common cause of frustration was things not going smoothly. She said that if your children are left to their own devices then when you got to find them to do their work they’ll be busy, and you’ll leave them to it, but in the end you get frustrated because the work isn’t getting done and you have no routine or predictability. And as the homeschool parent you need to be the leader, and make sure the necessary work gets done.
HUGE lightbulb moment.
This has been us over the past few months. I go to find everyone so we can all do some work, and everyone’s busy. They’re generally busy with good activities – lately that includes drafting and making armour, veggie gardening, practising instruments, and reading (always reading). I don’t want to pull them away from these tasks, so I don’t. We do bits and pieces here and there, but it’s disorganised and fragmented, and that makes it impossible to get all the work done. The activities they’re doing are good, but we’re not doing enough of the academic work that provides the foundation for everything else.
Solution: I’ve set an alarm for 9 am Monday-Thursday, with a pre-alarm going off 10 minutes before. This pre-alarm is our signal to get to work – to leave what we’re doing, clear the table, put hearing aids in, and get ready for bookwork. We aim to keep working until 12. I’ve allocated basic activities for each day. Nothing too scheduled, because I really don’t like strict times, but a guide is great.
The kids all know. And they’re actually really happy about it – they all wrote out new work lists on Sunday night, all ready to begin Monday morning. And the first day went really smoothly – we go so much done in our three hours, and everyone had a good time. I did need to remind one child that getting up in the middle of a grammar lesson to raid the fridge is not acceptable, but they’ll get the hang of it again soon.
Collecting morning basket activities
I’ve heard so much about morning baskets but haven’t really paid attention – I should have. I’ll start off our sessions with shared resources after watching Sara Jordan Panning’s workshop. With five children spanning five years in age with lots of different interests we do much of our work separately, but we also do quite a bit as a group. If I start off with group work I hope to get everyone into the groove and then have them carry on with independent work when we’re finished – it worked for day 1.
Also, then I know I’m guaranteed to have all five children available at the same time – no mean feat.
Reintroducing homeschool art projects
I know next to nothing about famous art and artists, it’s just not a big thing in Australia. We actually tend to look down on culture, probably because we don’t have much of our own. Those of us who colonised Australia don’t, anyway – the true locals have the longest continuous civilisation in the world – at least 65,000 years old, in fact.
Great homeschool geography ideas
We already do a weekly country study for geography, but after Se7en’s workshop we’re jazzing it up a little. I’ll be ordering many of the great living books she mentioned and downloading the VoiceMap app to try it out.
I know we won’t make all the fantastic maps and booklets and journals that they do, and a little part of my is grumpy at that, but at the end of the day creating lots of tangible stuff is just not what we do – not on their impressive scale, anyway!
And maybe I’ll manage to convince my husband that we should host couchsurfers – one day.
Creating a high school plan
We’ve never made a high school plan because we can’t create transcripts for university entry in Australia, so we just kind of meander along, but after Dr Marie-Claire Moreau’s workshop I’m going to make one for each of my three girls (collaborating with them, of course – you can’t force much on an always homeschooled child).
They’re getting old now – 14, 13 and 13. We only have a few more years left of homeschooling, and I want to make sure we at least make a broad sweep over many different areas. Now really is the time for them to begin experimenting more with academics and interests so they can have a great idea of what they’d like to do when it’s time for work and further study (unlike me, who had no idea).
And that really is the tip of the iceberg – just what I managed to pick up while handling all the tech stuff in the background. I know there’s so much more in there, so once things calm down a little and life is back to normal, I’ll watch them all again, and start digging into the bonus bundle.