Every year, it seems even easier than the last to get sucked in by all the new and shiny curriculum. I can add two or three more subjects in, right? And maybe another co-op class, because it looks so good? When you add in field trips, sports, and other extracurriculars, it can become overwhelming. There has to be a trick to keeping your homeschool priorities straight!
I’ve been there, and it’s not pretty. One year, my son even made me promise that I would let him approve activities before I signed him up for them. You see, he was doing so many “great extras” that he didn’t have time to do school! (Did I mention he was 9?)
I know I’m not the only one to fall into this. However, I did find my way out! Here are the tricks that helped me prioritize our homeschool activities.
Setting Your Homeschool Priorities
The first, and most important, step to prioritizing your homeschool is to determine what your priorities actually are.
It seems so simple, but how many of us sit down to seriously figure these out?
If you have not yet done this, I encourage you to start. Just grab a piece of paper, pull up a blank document, or open your notes on your phone. Think about what things are truly important in your homeschool.
Remember, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to this. Your answers are the ones that are important to you.
When you’re done, put this list away for a couple of days. Then, open it back up and look through it. Is there anything you would like to add, subtract, or clarify?
Keeping Your Homeschool Priorities Straight
Now that you have your priorities down on paper (or a screen), it’s time to put them to work.
Priorities in Choosing Curriculum
When you choose homeschool curriculum, feel free to ask for advice and suggestions. Some of our favorite finds came to us this way!
However, take it a step further. Rather than choosing the programs that everyone else seems to love, spend a bit of time looking through those options. What fits your family’s schedule, your teaching style, and your children’s learning styles? Which program best fits your educational method and your family’s beliefs?
And finally, which option best fits the priorities that you have set for your child and your homeschool? Using this method makes curriculum shopping and planning so much easier!
Priorities in Choosing Electives
As your child gets older, choosing electives can seem like a huge maze that you are somehow expected to navigate. You’re the parent, after all; don’t you just magically know what to do?
I sure didn’t.
As I went searching for electives, I kept finding more and more choices, each one seemingly more amazing than the last. How do you choose between them?
Simple: you choose by prioritizing.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘I kept finding more and more choices, each one seemingly more amazing than the last. How do you choose between them? Simple: you choose by prioritizing.’ – Jen of @helpinghandhs #readysethomeschool #allthehomeschoolthings #homeschooling” quote=”I kept finding more and more choices, each one seemingly more amazing than the last. How do you choose between them? Simple: you choose by prioritizing.”]
I found that communicating with my son regarding the interests he wanted to explore and his goals for the future played a big part in narrowing down our choices. It became clear that just because I thought an elective sounded incredible didn’t mean that it was right for him!
By keeping lines of communication open and our priorities in front of me, I found it much easier to help my son choose his electives. Many of them provided an important foundation for his studies in college as well as his work and ministry activities!
Priorities in Choosing Activities
This is the third big area where many of us find ourselves getting off track. With so many incredible homeschool activities available, how do we choose the best options?
Believe it or not, there is a balance between restricting all activities and adding them all in as a free-for-all. You really can help your child find the activities that are right for them without overloading your schedule!
When considering an activity, it is important to first compare it to your list of homeschool priorities. How many of these priorities does it actually fulfill? If the answer is none (or not many), it may be better to let the opportunity go – at least for now.
If you find it fulfills several priorities, it’s time to bring it to the next step! Does it fit your child’s interests and your family’s schedule and budget? If so, it is likely that the opportunity will be a good fit!
Keeping It Real
If you find yourself in the middle of chaos or overwhelm when it comes to your homeschool priorities, there is hope. You can find your way out of this without a lot of stress!
To do so, make a list of the curriculum, electives, and activities that your family is currently involved in. Quickly scan the list. What stands out to you as either being a definite “keeper” or a definite source of stress? Mark these first, as they will be easy to prioritize.
Then, go back down through the list. Which options fit your family’s priorities, which ones can be easily tweaked to fit, and which ones seemed like they would fit but really don’t?
This simple process will help you narrow down your choices. What is really worth keeping, what might be nice to add in, and what can easily be let go?
Once you have your homeschool priorities straight, you will find that these choices become much easier – and much less stressful. In turn, your homeschool days will tend to flow more smoothly and be more effective!
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other posts in this series!