8 Tips for Homeschoolers in 2014

Whether you greet the idea of New Year’s resolutions with a grin or a groan, it’s hard not to feel hopeful as you peel the plastic away from that shiny new calendar. Maybe you’ve resolved to get to the gym twice a week, for example, or to deflate your ballooning electric bill by conserving energy around the home. While annual goals run the gamut, the aspirations that are closest to our hearts are often the ones that last. So why not take a cue from common New Year’s resolutions and dedicate 2014 to making your homeschool the very best that it can be? Here are a few suggestions for getting started.

1. Get going. Some will tackle the New Year by hopping off the couch and onto an exercise bike, so follow the fitness aficionados and up the activity in your homeschool. Encourage your child’s enthusiasm for earth science, for example, by visiting a nearby nature preserve, or fan a fascination for art or history by heading to a local museum. Leave your schedule flexible enough to allow for supplemental activities, but plan ahead whenever possible to pack in a variety.

2. Reward progress. Just as new incentives will inspire many to quit a bad habit this year, small perks can also encourage peak performance from your child. Set goals for earning higher grades in challenging subjects, reading classic books or the Bible, or mastering a difficult selection on an instrument, and salute strides with a half-day off or a subscription to a quality, age-appropriate magazine.

3. Slim down. Keeping the pounds off is a popular New Year’s promise. Why not apply that philosophy to your homeschool by thinning out clutter? If your student’s curriculum doesn’t offer electronic recordkeeping, consider transferring grades and transcripts to an electronic spreadsheet. If there’s an art project or piece of creative writing you can’t bear to toss, consider scanning it (if it’s two-dimensional). Creating digital copies will make it easier to part with some of the paper, and as your load lightens, so will your outlook. 

4. Learn something new. It’s true that children are like sponges when it comes to picking up knowledge, but it’s also a fact that teachers can’t help but soak up what their children are learning, too. As many set goals to learn new skills in the New Year, encourage hobbies you and your child can take up together. If your child shows an interest in photography, for instance, build a pinhole camera to explore how light and shadows work together to capture an image. You can even brush up on your own shutter skills by renting an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera or picking up a secondhand model. If photography isn’t your child’s speed, see if a new language or instrument strikes a chord.  

5. Stay in touch. Thankfully, technology offers ample opportunities for your student to reach out to family and make new friends while learning and having fun. If your child uses text messaging, for instance, you can review spelling or vocabulary words by texting answers. You can also teach through social networking by having your child practice sentence composition on Twitter and Facebook, where restricted character counts encourage concise sentence structure.

6. Balance your budget. A New Year’s resolution to manage money better needn’t be limited to household expenses. You can also cut costs in your homeschool by taking advantage of sales and choosing a curriculum that can be used with multiple students.

7. Express yourself. If you’ve vowed to spend more time on scrapbooking, blogging, or journaling, let some of that creative energy spill over into your homeschool. You can jazz up January and beyond with out-of-the-box projects, such as dramatizing a piece of fiction through puppetry, exploring physics by building a backyard trebuchet, or reviewing concepts by putting a new spin on a classic board game.

8. Keep the faith. The fresh start we pledge to make each New Year is an ideal time for spiritual recommitment. One way in which you can re-energize your homeschool’s relationship with God is to set aside time for daily prayer and Bible study, not only for your student, but also for yourself. You can even join Christian homeschooling groups and offer to host a day of school for fellow homeschoolers. 

Do you have any tips for New Year’s resolutions to make 2014 your best year of homeschooling yet? Share them below!