Whether you are just starting to homeschool for the very first time, or are an old hand at it, a new year gives a chance for a fresh start. Although every family is different, and each family must find its own unique way of homeschooling, there are certain preparations which will help almost every family to be more successful.
1. Prepare Yourself.
There are many things to prepare, but the first thing to prepare is yourself, especially if this is your first year. Homeschooling is an educational choice like no other. It’s not just a choice between one school and another. It is a way of life, and it will make a profound impact on how you live. You need to prepare for the fact that it entails some adjustments. It also entails some failures and some rethinking and some restarts. Not everything you try is going to work. If you understand that not everything will be perfect right away, then the inevitable small setbacks won’t discourage you.
Write out the reasons why you are homeschooling and put them up on your wall. Discuss the reasons with your spouse, and if they are old enough, discuss the reasons with your children. This decision affects you all, and having the understanding—and, ideally, the agreement—of everyone is important. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). Have a vision.
In most homeschooling situations, the mother does most or all of the teaching. The father is very important, however, even if he is not doing any teaching. The attitude of the father will most likely be reflected in the children. If the father is supportive and lets the children know how important he believes homeschooling to be, the children will have a much better attitude. If the father is not supportive, the children will almost certainly pick up on this and use their knowledge to undermine the homeschooling.
2. Prepare Your Home.
Once you yourself are prepared, prepare your home. The first decision you need to make about your home is where you will homeschool. Will the children each have areas of their own, or will you all homeschool together in a central location? Or will it be some combination of the two, with a time for quiet study apart and a time to come together?
Whatever you do, you need to find the space in your home both for the schooling and for storing educational materials. Storage of materials may be more important than you think. There is a saying that goes, “For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost.” For want of a pen, a half hour may be lost. For want of the right book, a day may be lost. Efficient homeschooling is a lot quicker, and a lot more pleasant, than inefficient homeschooling.
3. Prepare Your Curriculum
The next thing to prepare is your homeschooling curriculum. Seton sends you all the books and lesson plans you need, but you should look through them to understand how to proceed. The first thing to do is lay out all the materials and make sure that you have all the books and lesson plans you should. If anything is missing, or if you are not sure about something, call or email Seton for help.
Plan to spend at least a week familiarizing yourself with the books and lesson plans. Understand what is being taught this year in each class. Thoroughly review the lesson plans to understand how they operate, what they contain, and where things are. You might want to use colored tabs to mark important items and delineate separate sections. Look over the quarter report forms, so you understand what assignments are necessary to receive a grade in the course.
Log into your MySeton account to see what’s there and how it works. Make special note of course resources, which include audio, video, and samples. Look at the Message Boards, which give help on several different subjects.
4. Prepare Your Schedule.
Finally, you need to prepare your schedule. The schedule you start off with may need to be adjusted, as you find out which subjects take longer and which are quicker. If you can, try to schedule daily Mass. If that is not possible, try to schedule at least one day during the school week for Mass. Have a daily prayer time as well, at least an opening Daily Offering so that everyone understands that what they do each day is ultimately for the greater honor and glory of God. Several additional short prayer times throughout the day are helpful as well, not only for the prayer, but for breaking up the day and giving some “down time” to the children.
Once you have your schedule, try to keep to it, but know that days will come up when you can’t keep to it. The fact that the schedule cannot always be kept should not lead you to abandon a schedule. We have asked parents what advice they would give other homeschoolers to be successful: having and keeping a schedule is always the number one suggestion.