We’re entering our eighth year of homeschooling. One of the primary challenges I’ve found with homeschooling has been homeschool balance, or balancing roles as teacher and parent.
All parents serve in the multifaceted role of teacher, role model, coach, and disciplinarian for their children. As a homeschool teacher, we do all of those things but assume a larger teacher role. That amplification of the teacher facet in our role as a parent can make things seem imbalanced.
Tips for Being Both Teacher and Parent
Some people (not me) are able to truly separate the roles of teacher and parent and don/doff the teacher and parent hats with great success. I’ve learned that I function best, and my kids learn best when I am both. When I am Mom and Teacher, it reinforces the value that learning is incorporated into all of the things that we do and not just limited to school time. Every moment is a teachable moment. Wearing both hats at the same time absolutely requires some organization and flexibility. Here are some tips for maintaining the balance between homeschooling and parenting.
Our life runs better, in general, when I meal plan. I remind myself of this on the frantic nights when 5 o’clock is fast approaching, and I failed to plan. When meal planning, try to plan the meals around the schedule. Don’t try new recipes on the days when you are busiest. Review the meal plan on Sundays and make sure that you have all the ingredients required for every meal for the coming week. I use emeals.com for meal planning and love that the grocery lists are included. Let your family know what’s on the menu with a magnetic refrigerator chalkboard menu.
Spend time analyzing the lesson plans that are coming up. I tend to do ours in batches of ten lessons (which is roughly two weeks). You may prefer to review weekly. This will give you a chance to make sure have the printables you want, that you have any additional supplies you need, and that you’ve found links for any educational videos you want to include. Lesson planning is a sanity saver, whether you use pen and paper, your digital calendar app, or Google Classroom.
Some families function better when family meetings are held routinely. Try having a weekly family meeting for a bit and see if it benefits your family. Family meetings can help everyone to know what to expect, as well as cement bonds. Our family has dinner together every night. At dinner, we talk about what we’re learning, any upcoming plans, discuss any changes to our routine that are looming, and plan extracurricular events. Since the kids are at the table, they take part in these discussions. This time together helps everyone stay on the same page…even if our kids are at an age where they don’t always appreciate the beauty of a family meal.
I have found that I have to have time alone if I am to be both parent and teacher. I set the alarm to wake up 30 minutes before my kids. This gives me time to read my Bible, have a cup of coffee, and ease into the day. Not a morning person? Stay up thirty minutes later than the kids and do something that brings you peace and calm. If you’re married, be sure to factor in time with just your spouse, without the kids, too.
Avoid Time Killers
Some things just suck the time out of your day. Usually, this includes Facebook, emails, and other social media accounts, etc. Turn the volume down on the phone, and don’t go near your laptop during school time. It is very easy for a 2-minute email check to turn out to be a 20-minute internet sitting. Setting social media time limits is a great way to avoid wasting time.
Be Flexible in Your Routine
Flexibility is king (or queen) in homeschooling. Some lesson plans aren’t followed as you thought they would be. Some weeks are over before you finish the plan for the first two days. Something came up, and school time was cut short. The thing is, life will go on. Focus on the things that are more important. Even on your worst days, chances are you’re giving your kids more than they would get elsewhere. You are making a difference in the lives of your child(ren), and even when you have a bad day, it matters. Whether or not your efforts are appreciated by your kids, which can vary greatly depending on their age, the fact is you are investing in them, and your investment will not return void.
Avoid the Comparison Trap
Last but definitely not least, avoid the comparison trap. Early in our homeschool career, I found myself often comparing myself to one homeschool Mom in particular. She is SO creative and artsy. I found, though, that while she has strengths that I don’t, I also have strengths that she doesn’t.
Comparing yourself with the other homeschoolers, whether they are in your area, in your support group, or online, is a sure recipe for feeling like a failure. They are not living your life or raising and teaching your children. You are not living their life or raising and teaching their children. There really is no comparison.