When you have been homeschooling a while, you see plenty of fads come and go. Ideas you thought were really great at the time may not work out the way you thought they would. In our twelve years of homeschooling, I have made mistakes, but I have also narrowed my course and found my way. In spite of the twists and turns along the way, I am going to share with you the homeschooling practices that we are still doing today. After 10+ Years Homeschooling, here’s what works!
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Hands down, my favorite thing to do with my kids is reading aloud to everyone. In fact, my kids say this too. Their favorite thing we do in school is when I read to them. This has been our mainstay through all our years together. We have been so many places together through the books we have read. Typically, we read after lunch when our little guys go down for naps.
Reading aloud to your kids expands their vocabulary. It introduces them to ideas and cultures that are very different from their own. Science, history, art, and so much more are weaved into read aloud books. If you ever worry that you are missing things in your homeschool, read to them! It will fill in the gaps.
I’ve made many mistakes in a given homeschool day…lost my temper, burned our breakfast, threatened to send them all to school. But reading aloud seems to cover a multitude of sins. When we snuggle on the sofa together, all of that seems to be forgotten. We laugh and cry together as we travel to far off places in our books.
Encouraging Kids to Be Self-Learners
Someone once told me, whoever is doing the most work is the one learning. That really rings true. Don’t hand feed everything to your kids. Let them learn how to learn. Give them a chance to try figuring things out before you explain it all to them.
Typically in our house, I do a lot of one on one work with the kids who are in Kindergarten through 2nd grades. They are very independent at these ages as they are leaning how to read, how to write and grasping the fundamentals of math. But as they learn to read and write, I slowly challenge them to work more independently.
When you encourage your kids to be independent learners, you are setting them up for future success. If kids regularly try to figure things out, they are learning how to learn. They more they do this, the less of an obstacle new concepts will be to them. They will gain the confidence in their abilities knowing that they can learn anything they set their minds to learn.
Being Part of a Homeschool Co-op
Our co-op originally started with five moms who were hesitantly stepping out to TRY homeschooling. There was nothing official about our group. We were just moms helping moms. If we were going to homeschool, we wanted a homeschool community… so we attempted to create our own! We met in each other’s homes every other week. This was the perfect support we needed at that time. Our kids were able to make friends with other homeschoolers. Over a decade, this small group of five of us blossomed into a thriving co-op (now meeting at a local church) which we still attend today.
Although our kids have friends in many different circles, our co-op friends are near and dear to us. They have gone to so many interesting places together on various field trips. They have learned countless different skills and topics through the unique classes at co-op. We have been in each other’s homes. There’s a special connection between families when you have all been to each other’s homes. I love the friends our kids have made through co-op. These kids have grown up together. It’s a special bond.
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Reading the Bible Together
This was a practice we started when our kids were very little. I read a Bible story every morning with the kids at breakfast. Later as the kids got a little older, my husband would also read a short passage from Scripture after dinner. This is something that has stayed with us all these years. In Deuteronomy, God commands his people to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind. He says to talk about Him with their children…”when they sit in the house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, when they rise up.” In Psalm 78, the Israelites declare, “We will not hide these things from our children, but we will tell the next generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, his powers and his mighty wonders. “
We have our kids at home with us for a relatively short period of time. Soon they will be independent- thinking adults. My husband and I are ultimately not responsible for their response to the gospel. BUT, just as we have a daily responsibility to feed and clothe them physically, I believe we also have a responsibility to do so spiritually. Reading the Bible is cleansing. It sets them apart by “the washing of the water by the Word.” Just as “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” so reading the Bible to them feeds their souls.
As parents our greatest joy would be to know that our kids are walking in truth (III John). In a culture where sadly many children raised in Christian churches are walking away from the faith, our kids may also reject Christ. That is between them and the Lord. Whatever their path, I have inward peace knowing I have fed and clothed them daily with the truth of God’s Word.
Having a Regular Morning Time
We had been homeschooling a couple of years before I stumbled on the concept of Morning Time. If you’d like to know more about Morning Time, I did a whole post on How to Simplify Your Homeschool with Morning Time which explains Morning Time in depth. Like our Read Aloud time, Morning Time has drawn us closer together because we have shared so many memorable moments.
Morning Time isn’t always blissful at our house. There is usually a toddler causing a raucous and a hundred interruptions. BUT the reason Morning Time has stuck is because it has provided us with shared experiences. We have read exciting missionary stories, memorized poems that hold meaning specifically to our family, studied artists, listened to the best music, practiced a foreign language. Morning Time inspires us each day with truth, goodness, and beauty.
What are you still doing in your homeschool?
After more than 10 years of homeschooling, these are things that we are still doing. If you have been homeschooling for a few years, leave a comment and tell everyone what works for you!