As a Homeschool mother, I've always been plagued by doubts 'Am I teaching them the right things?', 'Am I sure this is the right choice for my family?' but my first ever question was 'How do I do it?'. As a general rule - to try and answer my questions I turn to advice from others whether in the form of people with experience or books. I got very excited when asked if I wanted to review SHME, who wouldn't want loads of advice, tips and solutions???Successful Homeschooling Made Easy by Stephanie Walmsley is a 26 week online course - each week you are emailed a PDF 'lesson' which you read and act upon. The lessons are fairly quick to read but do require 'homework' where you have to answer questions to point you in the right direction for what you want for your homeschool.
So far I have received the first 9 weeks (which have been fairly impressive - really looking forward to the rest) which included;
1.Start Homeschooling Today - this gives an overview of the course as well as tips to start homeschooling today. Stephanie encourages you to create an 8 week schedule for you family, this is fairly simple to start with (just a literacy hour to start with) but she does outline what will be included over the next few weeks. I loved that she encourages you to schedule breaks during the day.
2.Math Made Easy - you introduce math hour this week to go along with you literary hour. She also discusses how to teach math in a practical way and offers a checklist for when you choose a math curriculum.
This weeks work also came with a More on Math Bonus - packed full of math games to play and some recommended books for you to read.
3.Welcome Home - discusses how to 'deschool' your child, its full of experiences from various families whose children went to school before they were homeschooled - so lots of advice and tips.
4.Fireproof Your Homeschool - she starts by adding a fun activity to your schedule this week then goes on to discuss your homeschool style and how to create a 'vision' for your homeschool that will help you cope with the invariable criticism from others. Stephanie also introduces some classical music to listen to whilst your kids are working.
5.Three Key Ingredients for Success - you are asked to consider what you want to achieve with your child, how will homeschooling help achieve your goals and where you want your child to be in 10 years time. This is all about working out what is important for your family and using that knowledge to support your homeschool.
6.Fulfill Your Dreams - she discussed how your attitude is key to your homeschool experience and stresses how important it is to take care of ourselves and live our own dreams.
7.Why Curriculum Doesn’t Matter - is all about keeping focused on the right thing. She discusses different homeschool style so you can find out which suits you best.
8.Why You Might Need to Let Go of Good Things - all about 'out of home' activities and how to balance them (not too much but just enough). She stress the importance of not overbooking and allowing children to have time to be 'just children'.
She also shares some great statistical data about how homeschooled children compare to non homeschooled in later life.
9.Housework and Homeschool - this lesson starts by addressing how the schedule is working for you and how to see what need to adapt/change. She then moves onto housework stressing that it is important for kids to be involved (Home Economics lessons anyone?) and even has suggested cores for different ages/abilities. I personally loved the hidden treats to encourage proper dusting - heck, I'd even dust properly if there were treats hidden on the bookshelf.
I have really enjoyed what I have read so far and look forward to the rest of the course - the tips and ideas so far have really helped me even though I am a veteran homeschooler
Her writing style is easy to read and she intersperses her work with inspiring quotes.
I took Stephanie's advice and scaled back to just a literacy and math hour whilst I was moving house - not only did it make things easier and less stressful but it helped highlight areas is our schedule that could be used more effectively. It also helped me feel more excited and energised about homeschooling. We have decided that our summer schedule this year will revert back to the basic literacy and math hours : )
Another lesson the resonated with me was about taking care of myself - its so easy for me to devote most of time to the kids, their fun and their education, the house and to hubby, that I often forget that I need to be refreshed too. Since reading this I decided to start a organic garden - its something I've dabbled in over the years but never had the time to truly develop. So far I've managed to get in at least an hour a day whilst the kids are playing (or occasionally helping me) and its feels amazing to see what has been accomplished.
Although this was designed for new homeschoolers, I have found the series really helpful and full of good advice to make our homeschool journey simpler - it has helped me break some of our bad homeschool habits and start some good ones. I think this would be a great read for anyone experiencing homeschool fatigue or burnout as well as anyone who wants to improve their homeschool journey and enjoy homeshooling again.
You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.