5 Tips for a Successful School Year at Home

This week, as we prepare for the beginning of a new school year, we renew our commitment to our Catholic faith and to one another, striving to better know, love and serve Our Lord in all that we do.

By: Christine Silva, Guest Contributor

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It is that time of year again. You homeschooling moms know what I am talking about. The new materials are waiting and we are trying our hardest to garner up the enthusiasm to begin another year of teaching. (I know I am!) For me, this school year is looking very different with junior and a rising freshman heading off to Franciscan University of Steubenville in just four days. This means that for the first time in a very long time, I am only teaching two kids here on the home front. It will be a very strange experience for me.

I have been a homeschooling mom for 15 years now and while each year brings its own uniqueness, some things never change. The bookshelf that holds all the school materials is getting organized, talk of earlier bedtime schedules has begun and squeezing out every last bit of summer break is in full swing. We have set the date to begin and all systems seem to be a go!

If you are a veteran homeschooling mom or just beginning or considering this path in your future, here are five quick tips for success I have learned over the years:

1

Be patient with one another.

It is not easy to transition into the school year after a great, relaxing summer break. Typically, we start off with a bang and then things settle into a normal routine of daily Mass, school and activities. There will be good days and bad days. Know they are coming and be prepared to weather them with your kids.

2

Be flexible.

This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a typical Type A personality, thinking things should be done when I think they should be done. But, remember, there are unexpected variables:  kids get sick, field trips arise, and grandparents occasionally drop in for surprise afternoon visits! My husband is always reminding me that one of the beautiful aspects about homeschooling is the ability to be flexible. Let’s be filled with joy at suprises and know that the work will all get done. It just takes a little scheduling creativity and, hey, we are moms: Isn’t that what we do best?

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3

Be present.

As the homeschool mom, we have a unique opportunity to truly be present to our children throughout the day. Be with your children while they learn, especially during the high school years. It is all too easy to hand them an assignment and watch them walk away to another part of the house to complete the work. On any given day, you will find all of us here at the kitchen table, working and learning together. Reflecting back to when I was teaching all four children, I relish those amazing moments we had while working at the table. Those are years and experiences we will never forget. This is what has forged our family and made us as close as we are: we have been together.

4

Be open.

Be open to all of those moments both inside and outside of a textbook: those beautiful fall days where school gets moved outside to enjoy the beauty or snowy days when all the kids want to do is go outside and play. My advice: let them! Again, the school work will be waiting for them and it will get finished. Then there is the middle of the school year slump when all that they need to feel better is a homemade chocolate chip cookie (okay…maybe that one is more for me, but I always share). Stay open to those beautiful and spontaneous moments that can’t be planned, rehearsed or scheduled – those are the moments that surprise us with joy and we count as our blessings.

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5

Be loving.

Love them! Savor every moment spent with them: the laughter over lunches, joys shared, tears and disappointments they may experience. We have the unique ability to be there for our kids in a special way. The memories we make now are the treasures we will carry into our future. I listen now to the stories and memories from my two older children during their homeschool years and I hear the joy and the love we all shared with each other over some pretty funny stuff that happens here at the Silva Academy for Higher Learning. Not only will your love and appreciation for them grow, but theirs for you will also come to flourish. I wouldn’t trade any of our experiences for the world (or for tons of those homemade chocolate chip cookies…but I digress).

As I face a new year with endless possibilities, I pray that the Lord will continue to propel us forward as He has for the past 15 years: to love my kids, teach them to the best of my ability and face each challenge one day at a time.

Homeschooling moms, you can do this! Hold fast to our Lord’s encouragement:

“It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.” (Dt 31:8)

May God bless all of you in the upcoming school year and let’s pray for one another.

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