Being a teacher of any kind is difficult. You bear the responsibility for not only being knowledgeable in a number of different content areas, but also mastering the subjects enough to help children learn them.
This burden can be compounded for homeschool parents who feel the pressures of taking on both teacher and parent roles simultaneously. Not only do you have to faciliate the intellectual development of your child, but you also have to balance healthy Christian parenting at the same time.
Homeschool planning doesn’t have to be a burden. Incorporating some simple tools and tricks may take this task from cumbersome to efficient. Here are 5 tips for easier homeschool planning.
- Buy a Lesson Planner
One of the biggest reasons why planning for Christian homeschooling may seem like an uphill battle is because you feel like you’re constantly having to play catch-up.
It can be tempting to only plan for each day as it comes, but planning ahead of time is what helps you stay organized and feel less overwhelmed. Buying and using a lesson planner helps provide a visual representation of what your lesson plans will look like throughout the week or the month. That way, you can map out units far in advance and stay on top of the work.
Avoid the pitfall of day-to-day planning and organize your time to save yourself plenty of headaches.
- Join a Homeschool Co-Op
Homeschooling can feel like a lonely affair. Both you and your children may feel isolated and overwhelmed by the task of schooling on your own. Joining a homeschool co-op can be a simple and helpful solution to this problem.
Homeschool co-ops offer a number of helpful resources for child development. They can often be a source for social interaction, extra-curricular involvement, and solidarity for Christian families. But they can also help lift the weight of responsibility from your shoulders for a bit.
In some cases, a homeschool co-op may provide added opportunities for your students to get involved in activities during the day, freeing up your time for other things. Co-ops can also include parents who share the responsibilities of teaching certain days or certain subjects. Perhaps your friend is a gifted math teacher and will take on that subject. Or, maybe you decide to teach the kids on Wednesdays and Fridays while other members coordinate the other class days.
However it is arranged, homeschool co-ops are a perfect demonstration of how a community can work together to bear the responsibility of raising and educating children.
- Invest in Study Aids
There is no need to reinvent the wheel when there are a number of useful, practical tools already in circulation.
Sometimes parents will decide to homeschool because they are dissatisfied with the current curriculum being taught to their children, which is a perfectly valid reason. But that doesn’t mean that all pre-existing resources are insufficient.
Don’t feel the pressure to create fully original curriculum for all of your lessons everyday. It is perfectly fine to use quality study aids to support what you are teaching in class.
Your original, creative lessons can be effectively reinforced by workbook activities and learning aids that piggyback on what you’ve discussed.
- Schedule Planning Time or Office Hours
The same thing could be said for planning time and devotional time: nobody has the time; you must make time.
If you’re a busy parent (and, let’s be honest, if you’re a parent, you’re busy) then you don’t have huge margins of time during which you can leisurely plan the next week’s lessons. This may leave you feeling ragged as you cram in lesson planning with your spare moments here and there.
If you want to make your lesson planning time easier and more efficient, one of the most straightforward ways is to ensure that you always have a set amount of time carved out for planning.
Make sure your family knows that these few hours on a specific day are your “office hours” and that you need a bit of alone time to properly prepare for the next week. It may even be a good idea to bring this work to a coffee shop or library if it’s possible to get away. Frontloading your time before the lessons may save you from feeling overwhelmed later.
Make sure to be disciplined about this time. Even if you manage to plan this week quickly, get a bit ahead if you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Include Time for Activities and Breaks
Another reason homeschool parents may feel pressure is because they feel that they have to fill every moment of time with lecture. As most teachers will tell you, some of the best learning can happen while the instructor is silent and the student is left to practice on their own.
Don’t feel like time that you aren’t verbally instructing is wasted. Be sure to plan in time for a break (for you and for them) as well as incorporating activities that pertain to the day’s lesson. If the unit warrants a field trip, that isn’t a frivolous use of time; it’s an opportunity to bring lessons to life and show the real-world applications of what your students are learning in class.
Never underestimate the power of a break. Anyone with a basic understanding of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will tell you that a hungry belly probably isn’t very focused on multiplication tables. While a snack break can help you structure the school day more efficiently, it can also help your student learn better and retain the content.
For Christian homeschooling, feel free to incorporate quality engaging media to help teach kids about Jesus during the school day. While a fun video gives both of you a break, it can also be an excellent way to introduce a Bible story and begin a great conversation about God.
Christian families who choose to homeschool have plenty on their plates. From maintaining the home activities, to tending to the academic development of children, homeschooling is certainly a tall order. If homeschool planning has you feeling like you’re treading water, you’re certainly not alone. Testing out one or more of these tips can help you recenter your instruction and provide a bit more breathing room in your schedule.