*This post is sponsored by Teaching Textbooks. All thoughts are my own!*
Homeschooling has seasons of bliss and seasons of difficulty. We have had a few years where overall I looked back and had a good feeling about what we accomplished for the year. But there are definitely years where we struggle through. Pregnancy, sickness, moving, caring for a loved one as they pass, loss of job in family…real life issues like this can throw a wrench into your school year and make your head spin as you try to figure out how to make it through the year.
First of all, we have to remember that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. If you get 80% of what you wanted to accomplish covered in a school year, just move on and finish the rest the next year. The longer I homeschool, the more I see how much review happens year after year after year.
It’s easy for us moms to stress about it or to heap piles of guilt upon our heads over what we didn’t accomplish. Instead, we need to focus on what our children are learning! Through seasons of difficulty they are learning different life skills, compassion, empathy for a sick person, how to help around the house more if mom is unwell, or how to care for a new baby. These are all valuable life skills that will greatly help them in the years to come. Sometimes I feel this will help them even more than yet another grammar lesson on how to diagram sentences!
All that being said, school can’t totally stop for years on end. Some seasons go on for quite awhile and you have to push them through the best you possibly can. Here is what I do during those seasons to evaluate what we need to do.
What are my life goals for my children?
Do I see them heading to medical school to be a doctor? Are they headed to a trade school? If you have high school children that are on a certain path, you really need to stay the course. The good news is that high school students can be quite a bit more independent than a child in elementary school, so they can keep going more easily. If your child struggles in a certain area, hire a tutor to help out. Mosiah attended a co-op last year for his biology credit and lab, and it was a fantastic experience for him. While I struggled through a severe lack of sleep with a newborn baby, he stayed on track and finished with a strong grade in biology.
What do subjects do I value the most?
Every family will have a different answer for this one. Some families value science above all else, others value math or language arts.
For our family I want my children to stay on grade level with math. I learned the painful way that if your child gets behind or you switch them around in different math curriculums constantly, it’s hard to stay on grade level.
The easiest way I’ve found to keep my children scheduled in math is through using Teaching Textbooks. It’s an online program that children can easily login on, watch the lesson and then complete the problems on the computer. It’s self graded, which is absolutely amazing! At the end of the school year you can print off the grade book and file it away.
It starts in 3rd grade, though you can do the placement test to see where your child will place. Some students can start in 2nd grade if they have been doing an advanced math program before starting Teaching Textbooks.
Teaching Textbooks accommodates those difficult seasons in life. The online version is awesome as the parent has quite a bit of control over what they want to allow. You can go in and edit the second chance and not allow it, you can delete a whole lesson or just a few problems and make them do it over again, and you can constantly be checking their work to see how they are doing.
Do you want to know one of my favorite parts about Teaching Textbooks that is not well known? You can actually call in and talk to a tutor if your student can’t figure out the concept of a problem! This did not replace needing an actual math tutor to come in for our oldest who was in Algebra 1 (math is not his strength), but it definitely helped when there were just 2-3 problems that were holding him back from moving on.
My 3rd and 5th grader finished math on time this school year even though we went through a more stressful year with a new baby. Both of them got excellent grades as well!
I’m strict about making sure they do use their books, instead of just using the computer. I feel like they need to not just see the problem on the computer, but they need to work it out on paper to get it in their heads, which is why I love having the workbook to use. You can also just use a notebook for the year and have them work the problems out there.
I love the large family discount plan they have available! You can also try a free trial here, to see what you and your child thinks.
Books, Books, and more Books!
This is another must for me during a difficult year. My children learn so much just through reading, and I place a high priority on putting living books into their hands. If I’m going through a tough season in life but I see my children reading lots of books, I know it’s going to be ok.
Now just to clarify, I’m not talking about dumbed down children’s books. While they love a good classic fiction book, they also read lots of history and science type books just for fun! It’s amazing how much history my boys know that they learned just from the reading they have done on their own.
This past year Deborah and Sophia were not reading by themselves, so I relied on a lot of audio books from the library. Some of the books were more for fun (some American Girl books), but others I felt like they were getting in lots of good literature (Little House on the Prairie, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Secret Garden, and Little Women).
Don’t feel like you are not a good mom if you are not reading out loud to your children. Sit in the room with them and listen to audio books if you are just so sick you don’t feel like reading out loud.
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