What do you need to homeschool well?

As of this writing, we haven’t started school here. We are inching toward a start date, making progress every day, but things just haven’t clicked into place yet.

I haven’t felt ready to start well.

What does it mean to start well?

For me, starting well means beginning in the right mindset, and being prepared. Yes, it means having our homeschool area prepped and our No. 2 pencils sharpened, but it also means feeling like I am ready to tackle a new schedule and a new year.

It means that we’re all ready to transition, and that I’m not going to run into more resistance than what’s normal for pre-teens and teens. (Or that if I do, I’ll feel strong enough to deal with it without turning into a teenager myself.)

And it means that I have things in place that I need in order to feel organized, confident and at peace.

I didn’t always prioritize these things, but I’ve learned that the sweet spot of homeschooling is where the mama is thriving too. And so now, I take time to consider what I need to be effective and happy.

(I think happy is more important that we think – I think happy can make or break a homeschool.) 

So here are some of the things that I need. I’d love to hear what you need in the comments:

Specific scheduling

I need a very 3 Bears type of schedule – not too structured and not too loose. 

I keep a bullet journal, and find that it’s just the right fit for my personality. I love the subtle structure it provides, but that it’s also ever-evolving. For instance, we’re moving, so I just add a new section to my journal, and boom – everything is contained in the same journal as before, but I have somewhere to put all the deadlines, lists, contacts and to-dos that go with buying a new home.

A Peaceful Space

I need our space to feel warm and inviting. I don’t need a classroom, although it’s OK if you do! 

I like twinkle lights and candles, and banners and art on the walls. 

I need stuff we don’t need put away – if we aren’t currently using it, it becomes clutter and that drives me nuts every morning. (Aren’t I just a delight?)

And I need things labeled and marked, because there is nothing more frustrating than getting going with school, only to have everything disrupted because the 42 glue sticks you bought 2 weeks ago have grown legs.

An Easy Meal Plan

I need a meal plan because I hate food. 

Wait. That’s not right. I actually love food. Adore it. But I hate the constant planning and making shopping lists and trying to remember who likes what and why can’t we just eat tacos three times a week? I see no problem with that.

This year, I did this course and it helped so much. This autopilot system has cleared up enough brain space that I can do other things, which is a total mom win.

Regular Breaks

I’m an introvert, so I need breaks. I not only need breaks, but I also need to know I can count on breaks.

As any mother with young kids knows, those are two different propositions. I can recall waiting desperately for nap time so that I could get just a few minutes to let my brain unwind, and then just as I got settled with my tea and book and chocolate, I would hear a tiny person behind me: “Mama, I have some chop-wit too?”

If you are an introvert like me, I can’t recommend enough scheduling breaks, even if it means military-style coordination. It’s so worth it and will give you the chance to recharge so you can give back more fully. Which leads me to …

A Self-Care Plan

I’m a huge advocate of what I call soul-care, which I define as physical, spiritual and emotional care.

For me, soul-care doesn’t mean a trip to the spa for a week – it means simple things like reading a few chapters of a good book before bed, or making sure that I’m prioritizing exercise.

Those are things that help me feel better, but as we start a new year together, brainstorm what helps you feel better and whole. Then, make a plan for those things.

Sometimes we think of self-care as selfish, but I like to think of it as an investment: by taking care of my needs, I am better able to give back to the people I love.

So as I put these things in place, I’m starting to feel ready for school. 

But whether, like me, you are just getting going, or whether you’re already weeks or months into the year, I wish you a wonderful school year, full of what YOU need to homeschool well.

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  • Anne says:

    Hooo boy, you hit the nail on the head for this: the idea of counting on breaks. I’ve never articulated it that way, but having predictable alone time is so, so good for my mental health. In fact, the hardest part of having young kids for me (and not-great sleepers at that) is not knowing when they’ll wake up in the morning. I literally can’t wait until my youngest is old enough to use a Wake Up clock—that is SUCH a game changer for me. At least I have synchronized naps going for me now.

  • Amber says:

    I. Needed. This.

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