Confessions of a Homeschool MOM

12 Confessions of a Homeschool MOM

Hi! I’m Nike. If you’re new to this blog, my family is entering our fourth year of homeschool this year. I can hardly believe it!

My husband and I live in Middle Georgia where we homeschool our two boys, ages 5 and 8. They are entering kindergarten and third grade this upcoming school year.

I love blog posts where homeschool moms keep it real. I know that, for most of us, we enjoy homeschooling our children and want to highlight the many positives of being a homeschool family. However, not sharing the unglamorous side can be crippling for new families who may think they’re the only ones experiencing tough moments.

So, to all the moms (and dads) experiencing any of the following, you’re not alone. Here are my twelve confessions.

1. It’s challenging.

Contrary to what people, who haven’t a clue about homeschool, think, homeschooling is not an easy job. When done properly, it takes a great deal of time, research, knowledge, preparation, discipline, patience, coordination, and proficiency. Whether purchasing a curriculum or making your own, the work that goes into ensuring your children are well educated is extensive. Some bad eggs may give homeschool a bad name, but for the rest of us, we put in that work!

2. It’s uncertain.

Truthfully, I believe there’s a season for everything. I don’t know when our homeschool season will end. Whether it ends after high school or next year, only the good Lord knows. Anything can happen. My kids may want to try out traditional school. Homeschool may be outlawed (Lord forbid!). Or, it may just stop working for us. All I know for certain is, at the moment, we’re enjoying this time and hope it lasts as long as God allows it to.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

3. It’s lonely.

I’ve been blessed to meet and befriend other homeschool moms who invite our family out for parties and playdates, but at its core, homeschool is lonely. That’s because at the end of the day, it’s just me, my kids, and their curriculum. Being the primary teacher in my children’s life means that sometimes I’ll feel isolated and overwhelmed. And while the truth is I’m not alone and this is the plight of every homeschool parent, it sure doesn’t feel that way during those tough moments.

4. I get unmotivated.

I don’t jump out of bed every morning and greet the day like Mary Poppins. Sometimes I’m unmotivated. Sometimes I dread the monotony that homeschool routines can often fall into. Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m sick. Sometimes I haven’t slept well. Sometimes I doubt myself. There are many motivation killers that can throw me off course at times. But I’ve learned that perseverance is what you do long after your motivation has left you.


5. I don’t know everything.

The truth is, I still have so much to learn. In fact, my boys are becoming smarter than me by the day. They’ve become experts on topics they’re passionate about and the beautiful thing is they’ve also become my teacher in that regard. As a homeschool mom, I’ve realized one of the best things I can do for my children is not to teach them everything, but to connect them to the resources they need to teach themselves.

6. We have tough days.

Most days are great, but some days my boys just won’t cooperate. Sometimes there are tantrums. Sometimes there’s defiance. Sometimes I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Yes, crying, yelling, and everything in between can be heard on any given day. We aren’t perfect homeschoolers.

If these walls could talk, they'd tell you we're not the perfect homeschool.

7. Unschooling myself is hard.

Since I was trained by the good ol’ public school system, I constantly have to unschool myself so that I can open up more to the reality that we don’t have to sit in a classroom doing schoolwork every morning. There are other ways to learn. In fact, children are learning even when we’re not actively teaching them. Still, it takes time to accept that my children can learn even when I’m not standing at the whiteboard lecturing.

8. I don’t hate public school.

I am a product of public school. So is my husband. So are my friends. We all turned out just fine. I went to an excellent college, earned a degree, and even earned a professional degree. I’ve had some of the most amazing teachers and some not so good ones. I don’t hate the public school system. I thank it, because it was an option when my family couldn’t afford to send me anywhere else. I didn’t take my education for granted. I used it to my advantage, making sure I excelled so that I’d be a great candidate for college. Whether my boys are homeschooled, go to public or private school, I’d make sure that they excel, too.

9. The house gets messy.

You can imagine the mess that accumulates when a family spends most of their time at home. Hey, we live here! In fact, the only time our home is spotless is when we have guests, and everyone panics to “get the house together.” Yes, we have chores and cleaning schedules, but somehow at the end of the day, it seems like every single item we own is covering the tables and floors.

I cleaned my house today... memes, inspiration, quotes

10. I’m glad I didn’t buy a curriculum.

When we first started homeschooling three years ago, I used every free resource I could find for my then kindergartner. He learned to read, write, spell, and do arithmetic without a boxed curriculum. You can find the list of resources I used, here. Holding off on purchasing a curriculum offered more time to study how my son learns, which helped me choose a curriculum that best fit his learning style. Even better? The money we saved that year was put toward extracurricular activities and family trips!

11. My schedules are for show.

I have what I like to call my “ideal schedule” and then there’s reality. That reality becomes our routine. The difference? When I schedule things, it puts our family on a timeclock and makes everyone stressed. When I establish a routine, it invites spontaneity and allows the day to flow organically. Believe it or not, we used to have an alarm that sounded when it was time to move on to the next lesson, eat, have recess, etc. It wasn’t fun for any of us.

12. It’s rewarding.

This is such a cliché, but it’s true. I love learning more about my children, their strengths and weaknesses, their preferred method of learning, how they tend to deal with frustration. I love seeing and being a part of their progression. I love spending the day with them. They are my little buddies!


 

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s worth mentioning that even though some negative moments are highlighted here, the positive moments definitely hold more weight.

I want to hear from you: What are your homeschool confessions? Let me know in the comments below!

 

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

How to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader  | 15 Solutions

“My kid hates reading.” I hear that phrase all the time.

I have two readers. A four-year-old who’s emerging and a second-grader who reads fluently. Let me just say they’ve both had their reluctant moments. I won’t even begin to discuss the reluctant readers I encountered during my tutoring days. Trying to find a formula that works for reluctant readers can be frustrating, especially since every child is different. Here me out when I say it’s never the fault of the reluctant reader. It’s our job as their teacher to help them discover what method works best for them—help them soar! Below, are some of the strategies that helped me find a winning formula for each child. I hope you find these tips useful in helping to develop a winning formula for your reluctant reader.


 

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

1. Wait.

Before I discuss my next few points, I want to mention this: If you have a reluctant reader under the age of seven, try waiting. Children learn to read at their own pace. My oldest son didn’t start reading until age six. It took four months for him to read fluently. It was a quick process because he was ready. I did not push early learning, but I did encourage pre-reading skills. Nothing formal. My youngest son, who is four, started learning to read at age three because he wanted to. He was eager at first but later regressed for months. We paused our curriculum and waited until he was ready to continue. You can find several scholarly articles making a compelling case for waiting until age seven to begin formal reading lessons. I say, it depends on the child. When a child is ready, there’s no stopping them. When they aren’t ready, early reading can prove counterproductive.

 

2. Be realistic.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Setting Realistic Expectations WIll Help Reluctant Readers

Listen carefully: your child may not be a reader. I know It’s scary. The terror of realizing your child hates practicing such a vital skill. But guess what? It’s going to be alright. Trust me when I say you just haven’t found what motivates him yet. In the meantime, set realistic expectations. Your child may not pick up a book for leisure, but he will read when it serves his interest.  Which leads me to my next point…

 

3. Discover what excites them.

Those “boring” chapter books that accompany their reading curriculum may be a snooze. Why make your child read something boring? After all, you yourself typically enjoy reading what fascinates you. Discover what excites your little reader. For instance, my son loves informational texts. He’ll freely read up on anything from coding to architecture “how-to” books. Reading is reading.  Hey, even comic books count. If your child practices often, it shouldn’t matter what their text of choice is.

 

4. Make lessons short.

15 Ways to Encourage Reluctant Readers
Keep Lessons Short For Reluctant Readers

If reading is frustrating for your child, make the lessons super short. I’m talking 10 minutes or less. I made the mistake of pushing my oldest son to complete full lessons and boy was it frustrating for both of us. Thankfully, he enjoyed reading once he got the hang of it. After much research and prayer, I learned to take it easy with my second son. He is less reluctant because our reading lessons are so short. Even better? He’s improving with each lesson. Remember, quality over quantity is best. You can gently increase the lesson time as your child masters the material.

 

5. Be repetitive.

Don’t be afraid to let your child read the same book, chapter, or passage repeatedly. At three-years-old, my youngest son mastered reading a primer titled “Cat.” That’s all he wanted to practice reading for weeks. Similarly, my oldest son reread Frog and Toad books countless times when he was first introduced to chapter books. Instead of following the recommended reading for their curriculum, I let them read these books. It helped build their reading comprehension, fluency, and confidence.

 

6. Offer incentives.

Last year, my oldest son exchanged an hour of reading for an hour of video games. There was hardly a day that went by that he didn’t cash in on this offer. This year, since we no longer allow video games during the week, he reads an extra hour in exchange for a later bedtime. You’ll read more about extending bedtime in my tip about establishing a reading hour. For my four-year-old, stickers and snacks do the job. I purposely scheduled his snack time after reading lessons to give him something to look forward to.

 

7. Establish a reading hour.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Designated Reading Hours For The Family Can Encourage Reluctant Readers To Read More

Establish an hour every day when the house is quiet and everyone is expected to read. Guess what the best time to do this at my house is? If you said “bedtime” you’ve guessed correctly! My kids will do anything to stay up—that includes reading books. I give them permission stay up an extra hour if they read. It works! They sort of feel like they’re getting away with something.

 

8. Get competitive.

If your child is competitive in nature use it to their advantage by timing their reading speed. We like using an egg timer because the ticking sound encourages my son to focus. The goal is to see how much they’ve read in ten minutes, twenty minutes, or whatever time you’ve decided on. When the timer sounds, record the time and see if they can beat their own record the next time they read. A game I like to play with my youngest is sounding a loud noisemaker each time he reads a word correctly. My noisemaker of choice is a squeaker and, let me tell you, he thinks this game is absolutely hilarious. Admittedly, the squeaker is annoying, but it works and my four-year-old’s giggle is just adorable.

 

9. Visit the library or bookstore.

Sometimes being in an environment where other people are reading will offer encouragement to a reluctant reader. Not to mention the seemingly endless book selections available to suit their inquiring minds. When we take trips to the library, I let my kids pick out anything that interests them. I help them look up subjects, they take the books to the tables and read through them eagerly. No, they don’t read every single word. But listen, I’m just happy they’re excited about a book. We arrive home with 30-40 new books after each library visit, sometimes more! Which leads me to my next point.

 

10. Establish a diverse home library.

15 Ways To Encourage A Reluctant Reader
Diverse Book Selections Keep Reluctant Readers Interested

You don’t have to buy a bunch of books. I know I don’t. What I do is check out up to 50 books from the library every few weeks and keep our home library resources in rotation. This ensures there’s always something my kids will be interested in reading. We have award winning story books, books about computer programming, health, animals, black history, and more! These selections change every few weeks. And yes, my kids will actually read them—or at least look through them. If we really like a book, we consider purchasing it and making it part of our permanent library.

 

11. Get moving.

Sometimes it’s not the reading that kids dislike, but the sitting still part. If you’ve been trekking with me, you know my boys are kinesthetic learners. They love to move! Reading while pacing is a great antidote for little movers. It may drive you crazy to watch it, but trust that these movements are all a part of helping them concentrate and retain information as they read. If they don’t like pacing, try a stress reliever ball that they can squeeze when they feel the urge to move.

 

12. Let them listen to fluent readers.

Sometimes it may be that your reluctant reader hasn’t had enough examples of what fluent reading sounds like. Be sure to read aloud to them often so they can develop an ear for it. Let them follow along with you as you read so they can see how you pause after each comma, sentence, paragraph, etcetera. Audio-books are also great for this, but make sure it includes the physical copy of the book so that your child can follow along.

 

13. Be an example.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Being An Example Is A Great Way To Inspire Reluctant Readers

Does your child ever see you read for leisure? It’s no secret that children learn more from the things we do than the things we say. A great way to encourage a reluctant reader is to simply get lost in a book yourself. You’ll convey the message that reading is fun and interesting. I typically read in bed after the kids are asleep, so I have to make a conscious effort to let them see me read every now and then.

 

14. Join a reading club.

Most libraries and bookstores will offer seasonal reading camps to help encourage a love for reading and motivate children to read more books. We always take advantage of these camps. It’s a great way for reluctant readers to challenge themselves, meet new friends, and be publicly rewarded for their achievements. If you’re a homeschooler, consider reading clubs or classes at your local co-op or homeschool group. This year, my oldest son has been taking a reading class that focuses on group reading. He loves this class so much that he signed up for it again this semester. It’s been a fun way for him to practice reading among his peers.

 

15. Remind them that they’re not alone.

15 Ways to Inspire Reluctant Readers
Sometimes Knowing They’re Not Alone Is All The Encouragement Reluctant Readers Need

Learning to read the English language is challenging. There are so many rules and “exceptions to the rules” that can frustrate an emergent reader. I like to remind my boys they’re accomplishing something that’s challenging for many people, but with regular practice they will master the art of reading. When my oldest was an emergent reader, it was like the weight was taken off his shoulder when I gave him a list of people he admired that had trouble reading at first but have now mastered the skill. Similarly, my four-year-old has witnessed the reading journey of his older brother and looks to him for inspiration. Sometimes knowing they aren’t the only one is comforting and motivating.


Your Turn: I want to hear from you. What are some strategies you’ve used to help your reluctant reader? Let us know in the comments!