Keep it simple! Are you new to homeschooling due to all the changes going on in our world? If so, I’m here to repeat my mantra, “Keep it simple!” Many years ago, I homeschooled our two special-needs children for some time during their early elementary years. I tried many of the things I had heard from other homeschool friends and bought many shiny, new curriculum books at the homeschool conference. The advice and curriculum books all had their place and were still needed, but I learned it could all feel a bit overwhelming. After trying different schedules, systems, and curriculums, I settled on my own path of simplicity. It became my observation that using less complicated-to-follow curriculums and choosing to keep a rather simplistic schedule produced more significant results in my children’s academic growth.
Especially if you are homeschooling a special-needs child, maybe my favorite simplicity tip would be helpful to you. Drum roll, please….you don’t have to do it all every day! And, along that same line, you don’t have to introduce it all on the first day of school. I learned just as I could feel overwhelmed, so could my children. In the second-year I homeschooled, I introduced only the spelling and math curriculum for the first week. Each day of the first week, we practiced some of the things that would become routine for spelling and math. By the second week, we had experienced some success in learning our spelling and math routines and were ready to introduce the reading curriculum.
Also, I found it helpful to choose two or three repetitive activities that my children could do each morning independently. For the sake of example, one year, my children would start their morning working in their handwriting books and then practice their spelling words a certain way depending on the day of the week. If it was Monday, they knew to write their new spelling words with three different colored pencils. They could write the word three times using a different color each time, or they could write the word and trace it with each color. It let them warm-up and work with little to no verbal instruction. It also allowed me a few minutes to prepare new instructions. Even the discipline of working independently is an important skill beginning in elementary grades. There are unlimited choices of what the activities could be, choose what works best for you! Also, you can change the routine at any time you want. I would often change it monthly or quarterly for variety depending on their ages and how successful the routine had been. It also encourages both you and your student as they can do more and more independently. Speaking of doing more and more, I would often add one more activity to their morning work, depending on the time of year, their ages, and their increased abilities. So there was MORE, more independence, more growth, more organization, all done with less!
Take a deep breath, maybe even take smaller steps with less and enjoy the MORE significant outcomes. I think you just might be surprised at the results!
To hear more about our homeschooling experience, check out this podcast with Beth Corcoran at http://www.flamingo-feathers.com/13. Beth invited me as a guest on her podcast, and we had the most wonderful time sharing back and forth ideas to encourage families on this homeschooling journey. May it bless and serve you!