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When your family makes the educational choice to homeschool, it’s also a decision that will change every dynamic in your family. For a healthy family life, positive family relationships must be a priority for every homeschool parent.
If you’ve been homeschooling for more than a day or two, you’ve probably discovered those little people in your home have their own ideas and personalities. They have their own ideas about how a day will go, and they definitely have their own ideas about how school should be done!
I know I want to enjoy working through concepts with my kids. The joy of seeing their lightbulbs flash bright with understanding is one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool a decade ago. I don’t have any desire to butt heads for days at a time over assignments or concepts. We’ve been there, and it isn’t pretty.
Over the last decade of our homeschool life, I’ve learned that I have to prioritize our family relationships over school work. Learning is a part of our family’s lifestyle. If they don’t get a concept today, they will get it tomorrow. We aren’t held to an arbitrary calendar, and I’m determined to enjoy the years my children are in my home.
Is our home a perfect place of unicorns, rainbows, and perfect schoolwork? Nope. Not by a long shot. We are human and make mistakes and things get messy at times. There’s a lot of beauty in our mess, though. Sometimes my husband and I are amazed a single educational decision has given our family such an amazing lifestyle.
So, how do we make family relationships a priority in our homeschool life? We have five ideas that we keep in mind in our parenting.
Prioritizing Family Relationships Idea #1:
We have three different kids with different needs and learning styles. I can’t expect each child to enjoy the same curriculum the same way. I also can’t expect each child to have the same reaction to an event or activity. We’ve learned to be flexible in our curriculum choices, our planning, and in our travel.
We’ve also learned to be flexible in the expectations we place on each child. In our home, we expect our children to do their best, but we know each child’s best is going to be different. Ability, maturity, and age are all different. It will damage my relationship with my youngest if I expect him to do a job to the same level as my oldest. By choosing to be flexible, we are much more relaxed and able to enjoy the stages and adventures that come our way.
Prioritizing Family Relationships Idea #2:
Make Learning a Lifestyle
Our family has talked about states of matter at the dinner table. We’ve listened to American history audiobooks and scientific dramas as we travel. Recently, we learned about the life cycle of bottlenose dolphins while on vacation. My kids can tell you about the founding documents of our country because we’ve seen them.
For our family, homeschooling is not only an educational choice. It’s a lifestyle. Encouraging the curiosity of our children is an extension of our every day lives. We’ve had so much fun exploring and enjoying new ideas together. When we work on an activity together, we are not simply educating our child, we are making memories and building our family bonds. Every time we discuss our adventures, we strengthen the concept learned and our relationships.
Prioritizing Family Relationships Idea #3:
Segment Your Time
While learning is a lifestyle, we can’t let it take over our days. It’s not possible to spend every hour working on math, reading, and language arts in our lives. To prioritize, we have to set time for the work of schooling, and then the living of life.
We are also a family with a parent who works outside of the house, and a work-from-home parent. Our family has to be intentional with the use of our time, or we end up in frustrating situations. Recently, I started using a co-work space so I could get out of the house for writing, and then could simply be mom at home. The main reason for this decision? I started to notice I was damaging our relationships. I would get frustrated at interruptions.
By segmenting our school time, our family time, and my work time, we can focus on our responsibilities. Then we can have time to simply enjoy our family life. When you aren’t splitting your attention because of something else, it’s a lot more fun to build that project together or take the afternoon for an adventure. To help plan your homeschool life, check out this amazing iHomeschool Network post!
Prioritizing Family Relationships Idea #4:
Understand Your Objective
We’ve all had that moment where we are sitting at the table or desk, and there is a fierce battle of wills over a certain page, problem, or question. You’re determined that the child will complete the assignment. The child for whatever reason is refusing. I’ve been there many times, and it’s not a good situation for any family. It can be very dangerous for our relationships. As the homeschool teacher and parent, I’m free to decide if the battle is worth the damage it causes. Most of the time it isn’t.
When you take a hard look at most schoolwork, you’ll notice that a lot of it is busy work. Most of the work is really not necessary to the understanding or comprehension of a concept. When we’ve hit those points in our schooling, I’ve learned that I need to take a step back and re-evaluate the lesson. The first question I ask when looking at the assignment is, “What is the ultimate objective to this assignment?” Secondly, I ask, “Is there a different way to reach this objective.” Frequently, there is another way to go about reaching the learning objective without a battle. Visit this link for 15 evaluation options that bring fun and life to your homeschool days.
Then Correct Your Mistakes
Also, it’s through this re-evaluating that I’ve realized several mistakes in my teaching. With one of my children, when we took a break from a subject and I did some research. I then realized we were dealing with a learning disability instead of a willful battle. With another child, I realized I was expecting my child’s cognitive and physical development to proceed at the same rate. I was requiring more handwriting practice than the child was capable of at that time. I’ve been able to repair and strengthen our relationships and bring more joy into our time together by looking at the lesson objective and considering the child in question.
Prioritizing Family Relationships Idea #5:
Have Fun Together
The relationship between homeschooling parents and children is pretty unique. Nowhere else do you see the role of a teacher intertwined with the role of the parent. It’s an interesting dance to live as a parent, and can be challenging at times. For this reason, our family has made it a priority to schedule fun together.
We all love swimming, playing board games, and movie nights. We also enjoy getting out and exploring our country. The adventures and fun times we share are the glue that holds us together. They are also the goals that we all look forward to and the incentives we need to finish assignments and projects. It’s amazing how much more efficient schoolwork is when the kids know we are jumping in the pool at four o’clock if everyone finishes their work!
In the end, we know we only have a few short years to thrive and enjoy our time in the parenting role to our children. We work hard to make sure we are giving them the tools they will need for success in their adult lives. We also are making sure they enjoy their memories of their childhoods. I hope the methods we’ve learned over our years of homeschooling will help your family thrive. I want to see you enjoy your time with your kids as well.
If you want to learn more about having fun as a family, order your copy of (affiliate link) Cultivate Closeness: 275+ Ways to Strengthen and Grow Your Family’s Relationships. Enjoy this book designed to give your family years of fun, adventure, and silliness together.