Homeschooling can be a challenging venture. Local public and private schools offer many perks that can be hard to compete with, so often, homeschooling families can get overwhelmed with the “I have to do everything and do it well disease” or wear themselves out trying to create a homeschool program that focuses only on one unique skill or ability, such as landing a baseball scholarship or acting career. Unfortunately, many homeschool families forget the original call that they felt to begin their homeschool program, and they forget to consider the skills that need to be an integral part of their program. From time to time, stop and reassess your homeschool program. What’s working? What’s not? Why isn’t it working? It might be that you find some educational “trash” is stinking up your program. Once removed, you can return to the solid footing of an educational and academic training program that can uniquely be afforded to a homeschool student.
Much like trash day, which comes regularly twice a week, I recommend a semi-annual cleaning out of your homeschool program. If you have not asked yourself “why you do what you do” lately, then maybe it’s time to do that. Sometimes we take on academic subjects or extracurricular activities because they seem good at the time, but they begin to run our educational lives. These activities begin to shape our homeschool program rather than letting the values and goals that we have for our students, shape our activities. This is an easy trap to fall into, and one that needs to be cleaned up before it makes your program ineffective. Consider each subject and extracurricular activity that you are adding into your homeschool program. One by one, ask yourself, “Is it adding value to my child’s education?” and, “Does this support my core values and objectives?” If the answer to these questions is “no,” then throw out the garbage and move on. Some activities may be fun, and that’s okay to add to your homeschool program but keep the overall goals and objectives in mind.
Another question to ask is, “Is this course increasing my child’s knowledge and skillsets?” Each course that you add-in should be of value, and remember that every state has required value courses. But, each course should also continually be strengthening your child’s skills in learning and academic behaviors. Developing the proper academic behaviors will be critical to your child’s later studies in college, so be sure to include study habits, time management, and critical thinking and analysis as the foundation for each academic subject in your homeschool. If you find that any of the added areas of study that you have been pursuing are not living up to this standard, get rid of them. Like many businesses, you might find it helpful to write out your core values or a mission statement and keep it posted where you set up the school records.
Time is a precious commodity. It is one thing that we can truly never take back. Each minute is a gift and with the limited moments that we have, it is important to keep the focus on your vision and goals for your children. Homeschooling allows parents to have much more impact on their child’s overall character and behavior, but we cannot forget to maintain a goal of academic excellence as well. We have only a few short years to train up our children properly – in their physical needs and habits as well as in their academic behaviors and abilities. Use your time wisely, and be sure to eliminate the distractions and “junk” that may be enticing, but is of little long-term value for your homeschool student.