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Homeschool advice

Ask the Experts: Practical Advice for New Homeschooling Families

3 minutes

Summary

A new to homeschooling mom asks the experts, “My children often turn to crying when I try to explain a concept. How do we learn to work with each other?”

I am concerned about my role as teacher. When I patiently try to explain a concept, my children often turn to crying. How do we learn to work with each other? – Rachel C., Mount Airy, MD

Cheryl Hernandez

Your children may be lacking trust in you as a teacher because you may be lacking trust and confidence in yourself.

But that can actually be a good thing, since where we really need to put our trust and confidence is in God. Our Lord told St. Faustina, “Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me because I pour all the treasure of My graces into them.”

Educating Them for Heaven

Be not afraid! Our beloved St. John Paul II is telling you Our Lord is with you every step of the way. God has put the desire to homeschool your children into your heart, and you have already made that first most important step of answering His call.

The Church says a parent is not only their child’s teacher — but their most important and indispensable teacher. You are, in fact, educating them for Heaven! Have confidence in your God-given role, ask for the graces daily, and they will be freely and generously given.

Having order in your day will help you to gain confidence and your children to be less anxious.

Children thrive within the security of boundaries. It helps them to relax and focus, without the worry and stress of the unknown. So make sure you put some order into your day, and try to be consistent.

Wake up before the children so you have time to yourself (to shower, have a cup of coffee, pray, and do some spiritual reading). Then have set times for waking up the children, morning prayers, breakfast, school time, lunchtime, chore time, and outside playtime. Especially in these first few months, try to keep the same schedule each day.

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Soon, you will find the days flowing more smoothly, and you and your children relaxing and enjoying this new adventure together.

Ginny Seuffert

Do your children cry when you ask them to turn off the TV, clear the table, and load the dishwasher? If so, you have a discipline issue that must be addressed.

Simply expressed, school-age children should not cry during lessons. That kind of behavior likely wouldn’t happen in a brick and mortar school so it’s really more of a delay tactic.

Actions Create Consequences

At the first sign of tears, stop the lesson, and assign a chore. “Go take a break and sweep the kitchen floor, until you feel like you can get back to work.” As this will set the school day back, unfinished work must be completed before playtime, or snack time, or TV time. This may bring more tears.

Remind the child that his or her own actions created the consequence. “Perhaps tomorrow you will remember how you were doing school-work when everyone else was playing.”

It may take as long as several weeks to end the waterworks, but end them you must. Crying over having to do a lesson is behavior that should not be tolerated because it also has long term implications.

Children who use these tactics to avoid work will suffer in their personal and professional relationships. Helping your children learn good work habits and the ability to control their emotions now is a great benefit to them, and sets your children on the road to future success.

Tara Brelinsky

Homeschooling, like the rest of parenthood, takes time to navigate. Think back to when you brought your firstborn home. You felt prepared for the basics of diaper changes and rocking, but you had some doubts after those first sleepless nights and cluster nursing sessions. In time, you and baby developed a routine. You learned his individual needs and you met them. New homeschoolers can experience this same settling-in period.

My advice to help you through this adjustment period is: start with prayer, stick with a set schedule, know your priorities for the day, and focus on the eternal goal.

Always begin the school day with prayer. Don᾿t skip this step, even if it means starting a few minutes later. Everyone needs the grace of time spent in prayer (yes, there᾿s grace even if your toddler is standing on her head during the rosary).

Stick with a schedule so that everyone knows what to expect throughout the day. Privileges should come after schoolwork and chores have been completed. If children understand, free time is at 3pm after they’ve finished their lessons without fussing, then they᾿ll be more inclined to cooperate.

More than ABC’s and 123’s

Know your priorities for the day and hold to them. Occasionally, there may be interruptions (doctor’s appointments, business calls) or a child may have a difficult day. On those days, skip the extras and channel your time and energy into completing the subjects which are priorities.

Just like the rest of parenting, homeschooling has an eternal goal. God has called you to train up your sons and daughters to know, love, and serve Him. You are best suited to fulfill that vocation because homeschooling is really about more than ABC’s and 123’s. Homeschooling is about teaching children how to live.

And staying the course through this settling-in period is teaching your children that life sometimes requires patient perseverance in order to reach the bigger goal.

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About Contributing Writers

Contributing Writers
A wide range of authors from priests, educators, parents and students bring insight and inspiration for the homeschooling journey. We would love to hear from you! To submit your story for consideration, visit Submissions. Learn More
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