As we get ready to start another homeschool year, we get caught up in all the minutiae of planning all the things — curriculum planning, lesson planning, schedule planning — and we can lose sight of the bigger picture.
Yet the bigger picture is vitally important when it comes to our motivation from day-to-day and also how to determine whether we are being successful or not.
Don’t forget these big picture perspectives!
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This episode is sponsored by SchoolhouseTeachers.com
Take your children on a journey around the world from the comfort of your own home this fall by letting their imaginations run wild with a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership!
SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the quintessential homeschooling solution, provides a high-quality Christian education supplying ALL the necessary tools for successful home education to over nine thousand Christian families around the world. Join these families and create a strong faith-based foundation for all your children as you homeschool using the learning style that works for your family.
Here’s a fun fact! Derived from the Arabic word “safar,” the word “safari” literally translates to “journey”!
Do you have any journeys planned for the upcoming school year? Let SchoolhouseTeachers.com point you in the right direction as you plan! Explore different types of animals using the A World of Animals homeschool science course, instill a love for God’s creation into the hearts of your children by using the Stewardship of God’s Earth course, or pick and choose from SchoolhouseTeachers.com‘s 400+ courses as you create your own journey for your homeschool. Use code: EXPLORE to pay only $179 for a two-year Ultimate Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com during their Explore the World BOGO event (reg. $224.97/yr)! This is an incredible savings! Pay now and receive a complimentary Explore the World tote while supplies last!
With a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership, mom is covered too! Plan out the school year with the complimentary 2021-22 SmartMama™ Planner, enjoy an evening away by attending one of the exclusive Hey, Mama! Members’ Lounge events, or ask questions in the engaging Facebook group and the chat box on the site.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Every grade. Every subject. Every student.
Episode 62: Big Picture Perspectives about the New Homeschool Year
How to Create the Perfect High School Homeschool Schedule
Hi, I’m Ann Karako, and you are listening to Episode 62 of the It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.
You know, as you’re walking through these four years of homeschooling high school, sometimes it’s important to stop — stop the car, stop the homeschooling car, because guess what? There’s a historical marker. And sometimes it’s fun to stop and read those historical markers or stop where it says there’s the scenic view and look out over the view.
Welcome to another episode of It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people. So you can confidently, competently, and even contentedly provide the high school education that best fits your teen and your family — and live to tell about it. I’m your host, Ann Karako, from Annie and Everything.com.
Hello everyone, and welcome. Let me start off by saying that things may sound just slightly different today than they have in the past. We’ve got a new situation in our house. My son is home working for the time being, and he just started working the night shift from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
So he’s sleeping during the day when I want to be recording my podcast episodes. And my normal recording area is literally on the other side of the wall from where his head is trying to sleep on his little pillow. So I’ve come into my closet today, and we’re going to see how this goes.
Today what I want to talk about is, as we get ready to start the new school year — it is the beginning of August; a lot of people are getting ready to start within the next week or two their homeschooling year, some people have already started. I know some of the public schools have already started.
I’ve never been one that wants to start this early, but even so, many people are. And/or even if you’re not starting until after Labor Day — which was always the way I wanted to do it, because that’s the way it was when I grew up — even if you’re not starting for a few weeks yet, it’s always good to get a big picture perspective on the school year. Because you know what? We tend to get involved in the minutiae in the weeks leading up to the school year.
We’re working on choosing curriculum for each kid, we’re working on lesson plans, we’re working on schedules — and all of that is very detailed, and we’re trying to do the best we can so that the school year will go smoothly. Dare we even hope for perfectly? Obviously they’re not going to go perfect. There is no way to account for every possibility that’s going to come up to make the school year, or even the school week or even the school day, be a perfect thing. Nothing we do can make that happen. So let’s just get that out of the way from the beginning.
But we tend to get wrapped up in all of those little decisions and are trying to make that happen, and so let’s step back. Now that we know that all those little decisions, nothing can make it perfect, let’s step back, though, and see what CAN we be thinking about? It may not be going perfect, but can we have an overall perspective that’s going to help us when all the little things, or some of the little things, don’t work out the way we thought they would. So we’re going to take a look at that.
8 Big Picture Perspectives
I’ve got seven things we’re going to take a look at; and yea, you’re going to hear my paper flip. Okay, I take it back; I’ve got eight things we’re going to take a look at as far as big picture perspectives that we want to keep our minds set on as we start the new school year; so that we’ve got a good attitude, and that good attitude is going to transfer down to our kids. So that we can have the best school year possible, given the circumstances of our lives.
Your WHY for homeschooling high school
The first one is a huge one. This is huge. And I think, though, that it is something that many people do skip over. And then in the middle of the year, they’re wondering if they should even be doing the homeschool thing. And I think part of that is because they skipped over this.
What is this that I’m talking about? It is your WHY. Have you developed a why for homeschooling, specifically for homeschooling high school, since that’s what this podcast is about. Have you developed a WHY, or the reason why you are homeschooling your teen through the high school years? What is it about the high school years that you want to provide for your kid that is not provided in some other educational situation?
There are all sorts of possibilities for this. Could be that you need a flexible schedule, could be that your kid has a consuming interest. Your kid might be gifted or might have other special needs that need to be accounted for. You might have a husband that travels a lot with work. So again, that kind of goes back to flexibility of schedule. You might have some values that are very important to you, that you’re concerned that the other school situations might not uphold in your teen’s heart and life.
Any number of reasons — and you can have multiple — that you might be wanting to homeschool through high school. My suggestion is make sure you know what those are, even take some time to jot a quick list or write a paragraph that explains why you are homeschooling through high school.
“Why is this so important?” you’re wondering.”I do it. I know I want to do it. And I’ve got it kind of in the back of my head about why we’re doing it. Why do I have to write it down?” Well, here’s why I suggest you actually think it through to the point of being able to write it down. That is because there will be bad days. (We’re actually going to talk about that in a little bit.)
On those bad days, you’re going to think to yourself, “Is this worth it? Should we be doing something else? My teen wants to do something else.” And you’re going to ask yourself, “Why are we doing this?” If you’ve already got your WHY settled in your brain and written down, then you can go back and look at that and remind yourself of your thought processes. And you can decide for yourself if you’re being successful at homeschooling high school or not.
Because success in homeschooling high school is not measured by the grades your kid is getting, or whether they get into the college that they wanted to get into. None of that is what measures your success, unless those were part of your WHY. What measures your success as a high school homeschooler is if your WHY happened.
So let me give you an example. Let’s say one of your WHY’s is family togetherness. I know that when I was growing up, and all of me and my siblings went to public school, we all lived independent lives, and our peers were more important to us than family. We came and slept under the same house. We ate meals in the same place, but I didn’t really give their opinions much weight. I was much more interested in what my friends thought. I lived an independent life. My brother lived his own life. They rarely crossed paths.
And maybe that’s not what you want for your family. You want more interdependence. That was something that we wanted. So then not only does — if you’ve put that in your little list — family unity, family interdependency — if that’s part of your WHY, then look at that on the day that you’re struggling and decide is that happening or not? Chances are it is, because you’re spending so much time together. And because it’s important to you, you’ve probably built some things in, like maybe you’re having morning time as a family, or maybe you’re restricting the amount of activities that happen outside the home so that your family is spending time together.
Whatever the case may be, look at that on that day when you’re struggling and saying, “Is this even worth it?” Look at family unity. Is it growing? Are you providing ways to make it happen? And the answer most likely will be yes. Guess what? Then the rest of the stuff is not a problem. You can overcome whatever’s going on on the bad day — and maybe on that bad day, the family unity is not happening, but overall you can see a trend in a positive direction because of how you’re homeschooling high school. And because that’s part of your WHY, that means you are being successful.
So the grades, the bad attitudes, whatever it may be heading your way can be overcome when you have a WHY and you’re looking at that WHY as you make decisions about what you’re going to do as you homeschool high school and as you revisit that WHY on the bad days. That’s what determines whether or not you’re being successful.
You know, another one for us was my husband was out of town a lot with work. And so for us, homeschooling provided a way for the family to have time together and time with their dad when he was home. So that when he was gone, we hit the books heavy and hard. When he was home, we were able to take days off to do things as a family. And so on the other days, when I was like, “oh, this is really hard,” I was able to say, “but there’s no other way that we could have the family life that we have with my husband traveling so much. There’s no other way that the kids would be able to see him as much. If we put them in a different educational situation, he would hardly see them at all. Yes, homeschooling is successful for us because it’s meeting this need for our particular family.” That’s another example for you.
So yeah, definitely develop a WHY and write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it frequently and use that as a basis for your decision making overall and also as something to come back to and revisit — and yeah, sure, refine and tweak as needed — but use it to reassure you that you are actually being successful. This is a big picture item. Why are you homeschooling high school? And the schedules and the curriculum, they’re all subservient to that. They all get determined from the basis of what your WHY is. So keep that in mind, as you are doing all these little decisions, all these little minutiae decisions, detailed decisions, keep your WHY in mind, keep that big picture perspective in mind.
The relationship is the most important thing
Here’s number two on the big picture perspective list that I have for today. Remember, and I’ve said this so many times in so many podcasts, remember that the relationship is the most important thing, so please be sure that you are trying to find ways to meet your teen halfway, to give them input in how this homeschooling high school thing is going. What subjects, what electives, what curriculum, what’s the schedule going to look like? Are you going to let him sleep in? I highly suggest it.
Remember that the relationship with you and your teen is the most important thing. And again, everything, all the little stuff is subservient to that as well.
When you are keeping your relationship with your teen at the forefront, then a lot of the tension and frustration can get avoided even, because now you’re dialoguing with your teen instead of commanding your teen. And you’re trying to understand what is their problem with this particular thing. You’re also trying to make sure that you’re showing them respect even when they don’t deserve it, that you’re giving them a good example of how to be an adult, that you are reaching out to them, that you are showing love to them, not just with words, but just with smiles.
And with time spent side by side — quality time doesn’t have to be an issue per se, in the way that we always think of quality time. We think about it as, oh, got to take them out on dates every week or whatever — not necessarily. What if they’re just sitting on the end of the sofa reading a book; well, grab your book and sit on the other end of the sofa. Just spend time.
I know that the times that my teens have opened up have usually been in a drive in the car that’s more than 15 minutes long. My youngest is a softball player, and we used to have to drive an hour to an hour and a half to practices sometimes. And that’s when she would open up — because we were sitting there side-by-side, and we weren’t focused on each other necessarily. We were looking outside, watching the scenery go by, but that’s when we were able to have some really good discussions and dialogues. And that just came from being forced to spend time together in the car.
Well, you don’t have to be forced to spend time with your teen. You can sit with them while they’re doing something or have them sit with you while you’re doing something. And that relationship just grows naturally that way.
How are you building them up? Are you encouraging them or are you constantly telling them what they’re doing wrong? Remember, our job is to train them for what comes next. And yes, that there’s an academic component to that, for sure. And of course, there’s going to be standards about that academic component, but don’t forget that there’s also a social component to that, an emotional component to that, a responsibility level component to that. We need to prepare them for adulting in all of its facets. And that can mean dialoguing, helping them to learn how to handle their emotions with maturity.
And also just building them up, finding out what they’re good at, letting them know that you know they’re good at it. When it comes to working on the things that they’re not so good at, we find a way to do it in a way that doesn’t make them feel small.
All of these things are so important, and the academics really does come second to just preparing our kids for adulthood. And what a privilege that is. Don’t forget that this is a privilege to be able to do this with our kids, rather than farming them out to somebody else to do it for us. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a privilege, but it really is.
I’m gonna jump in here for a second and say that this episode is sponsored by SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Take your children on a journey around the world from the comfort of your own home this fall, by letting their imaginations run wild with a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the quintessential homeschooling solution, provides a high quality Christian education, supplying all the necessary tools for successful home education to over 9,000 Christian families around the world. Join these families and create a strong faith-based foundation for all of your children, as you homeschool using the learning style that works for your family.
Here’s a fun fact: Derived from the Arabic word, safar, the word “safari” literally translates to “journey.” Do you have any journeys planned for the upcoming school year? Let SchoolhouseTeachers.com point you in the right direction as you plan. Explore different types of animals using the A World of Animals homeschool science course. Instill a love for God’s creation into the hearts of your children by using the Stewardship of God’s Earth course. Or pick and choose from SchoolhouseTeachers.com’s 400 plus courses as you create your own journey for your homeschool.
Use code EXPLORE to pay only $179 for a two-year ultimate membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com during their Explore the World, buy one, get one event. The regular cost is $224.97 per year, y’all, so this is an incredible savings! Pay now and receive a complimentary Explore the World tote while supplies last.
With a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership, mom is covered too. Plan out the school year with the complimentary 2021-22 Smart Mama planner. Enjoy an evening away by attending one of the exclusive, Hey, Mama members’ lounge events, or ask questions in the engaging Facebook group and the chat box on the site.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com: every grade, every subject, every student. And just going to let you know I’ve got a review on the blog for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It just got published last month. There’s also a video where I show you behind the scenes exactly what members get to see. So I will link to that in the show notes for this episode.
Roll with the bad days
Number three. I mentioned this earlier. Remember, there will be bad days. There just will. So keep that in mind and just take them in stride. Roll with them. One bad day does not mean everything is a failure. Even a week of bad days does not mean everything is a failure.
Remember, think of a bad day as data gathering — or a bad week or bad month — you are gathering data. Yes, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes there is anger. But remember that it is data that you are receiving that is telling you things that you can learn from — and your teen obviously can learn from them as well.
Are you getting pushback about something from your teen? And if so, find out why. Is your teen struggling with a certain subject? Okay. See if you can analyze why. Maybe they missed something a couple of weeks ago, maybe the curriculum needs to be adapted; in worst case scenarios, maybe you need to change curriculum. I don’t always recommend that; I recommend that less often than I recommend just adapting what you have, but sometimes in extreme cases, maybe it’s a good idea. Maybe they’re feeling rushed, pushed. Maybe they have too much to do. Are you scheduling more than seven credits? Seven to me is an exception; that’s the max that should ever happen, and that certainly shouldn’t happen every year. Are you scheduling more than that?
Even your highest level — academically, intelligently — kids don’t need more than seven credits. Give them space and time to explore what they want to explore. Give them space and time to have some quiet, some alone, some rebuilding-their-own-heart time. Don’t just keep cramming them up with activities and courses in the name of more and more credits.
So again, those bad days, they’re definitely going to happen. You’re going to have bad days too. (We’ll talk a little bit more about that later.) Try to think of them as data gathering rather than, oh my goodness, everything is falling apart. When we can look at them less emotionally, less subjectively and more objectively, then that’s the foundation for creating a solution.
Roll with changes
Okay. Number four, please remember, too, that even though we’ve planned everything down to the T before we get started, it’s not going to stay that way, is it? Things will change. I can’t remember how many times we started with one schedule and literally before the week was out, I had revamped the schedule — and not just in tiny ways, in pretty big ways. The schedule is always going to be changing based on how kids respond to it, how you respond to it; curriculum might change or the way you use the curriculum might change.
Don’t forget we have COVID going on right now, and that could heat up or die down and bring change of great magnitude to the way we do things. Just be prepared that that’s a thing.
Life circumstances may change. I hate to think about the ways, the things that might come up to us this year that are yucky, nasty things that we might have to deal with.
Change will happen. I’m not a good one with change. I like to be prepared for change, which doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it happens very suddenly that, oh, we need to be on a different path now, than we were even 15 minutes ago.
Okay. When you remember going into this, that it’s definitely going to happen, then maybe it doesn’t blindside us as much when it does happen. So please just big-picture-wise, remember that change will happen. You know, they say the only two certainties are death and taxes. I think change is another certainty. And my husband — I’ve said this before — my husband tells me this all the time: life is not static. Life is dynamic. Tomorrow is going to be different than today. Next week is going to be different than this week. Next month is going to be different than this month. Things do change.
Our kids change drastically not only across the four years of high school, but from month to month, am I right? They grow physically; their emotions change. All of a sudden they can’t handle the stuff that they could handle before and vice versa. It’s all going to be okay. Roll with it, just roll with it. Remember that it will happen.
And if you have to adapt, a lot of it is about presenting a good example to our kids of how to deal with change. Right? I don’t think I’ve always been a good example for that, but if we roll with it and we talk to the kids about rolling with it, that helps them to learn to do it as well.
Number five is one I’m actually not going to talk about now. It comes on this list, but I’m actually going to talk about it on my next podcast. And that is, have you planned for yourself? All this planning that you’re doing — lesson plans, curriculum choosing, scheduling — are you planning for yourself? Are you planning to meet your own needs, or have you left yourself completely out of the plan? We’re going to talk about that in the next episode.
Content is NOT king
Here’s something that I don’t know that I ever completely was able to accept, but I think it’s important that we all try, and that is this: You can lead them to the educational water, but you cannot make them drink. Am I right? Especially teens. It’s like, would you just apply yourself? Would you just learn all these wonderful things? Would you just find them interesting? And nope, not going to happen sometimes. That’s got to be okay.
How much really do you remember content-wise from high school? I gotta be honest. I don’t remember very much at all. I remember how my sociology teacher had this wonderful aftershave lotion on every day. And as he would pass by my desk, he smelled really good, but I don’t remember a single item of content from the sociology class.
I remember math only because I was a math major in college, so I spent more time with it. I don’t remember much from Shakespeare class. I don’t remember much from chemistry. I’ve relearned it all — somewhat anyway — as my kids went through high school and I had to grade their tests. But honestly, how much content do you remember? So it’s not always about the content. So if they are not choosing to work with the content on the level that you wish they would, it’s going to be okay.
What are they really learning anyway? They are learning how to learn. And so when we’re focusing more on that skill and less about the content, then maybe things become easier to deal with. Definitely prepare the banquet and make it appetizing for them. Now, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean you have to have umpteen things to choose from, but it does mean give them input about what they’re interested in. What is their learning style; how do they learn best? That makes it more tempting for them because they know that it is geared for them.
But beyond that, there’s only so much you can do. So remember, too, that getting all A’s is not the indicator of your homeschool success. Go back to number one, where we talked about the WHY; that’s the indicator of your homeschool success. So if there’s a particular subject or two that they’re just not lapping up the way you want them to, and they’re getting B’s or even — gasp — C’s, it’s okay. It is okay. The relationship is most important. They are learning how to learn.
You will fail them
Number seven, I alluded to this one a little bit earlier. You will fail them. You, you will fill them. We talked just now about the kids kind of failing, in the sense that they are not learning as diligently as we would like, but guess what? You are going to fail your kids.
For me, it was often in the form of not keeping up with grading. And then we would have a big mess to handle when I finally got around to it. But I also made some poor decisions. I got angry. I yelled. Any number of ways, I failed my kids. I have regrets. You’re going to have regrets too. This is part of learning and growing; this is part of that family unity.
How does it become part of family unity? Because we need to own it. And when we own it, when we’re transparent about it, when we ask forgiveness for whatever we’ve done to our teen (we ask forgiveness from our teen for whatever we’ve done to them), this builds bridges. This is another way to train our teen to be ready for adulthood, adulting, is to show them by example what it means to own up to our mistakes — not to make excuses, not to blame somebody else, just to come clean, to own it, and then say, okay, and this is how we’re going to fix this. And I’m sorry, it’s going to affect you too, because that’s what failure does, is sometimes it affects those around us.
Our sin affects our family. It’s just a truth that we have to live with. It’s humiliating sometimes isn’t it? But when we own it with humility — not humiliating humility, but humility — and we take steps to try to correct what we can, this builds bridges in that relationship. It gives that example to our teen. And this is super important.
So this is another big picture item. Don’t forget that you will fail, too. So you know what, when you’re looking at their failure in some way, and you haven’t failed yet, just keep that in the back of your mind when you’re dealing with them. Don’t hold your standards for them any higher than you hold for yourself. But also remember that if you haven’t fallen yet, you probably will at some point. And that can also help us give grace as we walk through each day.
Enjoy the process
Last but not least, I want to say this. Remember to enjoy the journey. You know, we get so focused on the end goal. We need to get through this week; we need to get through this month; we need to get through the semester; we need to get through this year; we need to get through high school; we need to get you into college or whatever the next step may be. And we’re so focused on checking the boxes off that there’s no enjoyment of the process.
You know, as you’re walking through these four years of homeschooling high school, sometimes it’s important to stop — stop the car, stop the homeschooling car, because guess what? There’s a historical marker. And sometimes it’s fun to stop and read those historical markers or stop where it says there’s the scenic view and look out over the view. Whenever you’re on vacation, are you more worried about getting to the hotel than you are about the drive on the way there?
And that’s my analogy that I’m working with here. Let’s — yes, the goals are there; we need to keep heading that direction — but on the way, let’s stop and enjoy the little things that we can along the way. Maybe it’s a book that you can stop and dialogue about because it was such a good book. Or maybe, you know what, we’re going to quit work today; we’re going to go get some ice cream. Or maybe it’s just a hug in the middle of the day and a smile and an M-and-M or two.
There are any number of ways to stop and enjoy the journey while you are cruising on your way to getting things done. And again, this is — you know, they all seem to relate don’t they — these are all ways that we can show our kids how to live life well. How to learn well. It’s not always about checking the boxes. It’s about the experiencing and the loving in the midst of the learning. Sounds like a book title: loving in the midst of learning. I like it.
Well, you know, there are lots of other things we could talk about big-picture-wise, and maybe I will at some point, but I think this is enough to think about for now.
Let’s just take a quick review.
Do you have your WHY established; that’s going to measure your success, right?
Remember, the relationship is the most important thing; that’s going to help you make decisions, and what’s going to be a big way that you make that happen is meeting your teen halfway whenever you can.
Remember that there are going to be bad days. That does not mean you’re failing. Just roll with them.
Remember that there will be change. Could be good change; could be bad change. Again, roll with that. Be an example, and don’t let it steal your joy or get you off track.
Have you planned for yourself — to take care of yourself, to meet your own needs? (We’ll talk about that one next time.)
Remember, you can’t make them drink from the educational water or eat from the educational banquet. Remember to give them input in that, but then give grace as you need to.
And another reason to give grace is because you will fail them. We all do. Maybe every day; ooph, that’s painful, but true.
And then last, but very much not least, enjoy the journey. Because what they tell you is true. It goes by incredibly quickly. I graduated my last one; literally 10 days from me recording this, she is headed off to college. Whew. That’s a tough one, guys. So enjoy it along the way, because it’ll go by really fast, and then you’ll wish you had enjoyed it more.
You know, I really enjoy doing this podcast. Here’s hoping that this recording turned out while I’m sitting here in my closet, trying to get far enough away from my kid so that I don’t wake him up.
Come back next time in two weeks for self-care for the homeschool mom; how are you planning and taking care of your own heart? We’ll go into detail about that.
In the meantime, you know how to get the notes: go to Annie and Everything.com, go to the top menu where it says Podcast, click on that. And then look for this episode, which is Episode 62. And there you’ll find all sorts of related resources and links to take you all over the place to things that will also help as we get ready to start the new school year.
Alrighty, y’all see you next time. Thanks so much for being here.
- Episode 93: How to Transition to High School — by Alyssa Woolf - December 16, 2022
- Episode 92: Is Your Teen Showing Consideration for Others? - December 2, 2022
- Episode 91: Unschooling Teens — My Experience and Advice (with Julie Polanco) - November 18, 2022