Helpful Homeschooling Hints

by Crystal Hessing of Boise, Idaho

When, why, and how your home-educating adventure began (or is yet to begin) is unique to each of us.  Ours began six years ago when my, then-fourth-grader, would no longer go to school.  I would forcefully drop her off at school, despite what should have been my better judgment, with anticipation of the nurse calling a few hours later because she was yet again in the office complaining of another stomach ache. This happened day after day, until I finally listened to my daughter and the Holy Ghost encouraging me to find an alternative education plan for our family.  This journey has come with ups and downs, lefts (or left-outs) and rights, yet day after day I am grateful for those stomach aches that finally got me to heed, hearken, and hear my daughter and the Spirit.  May I share with you some hints that have helped me along this homeschooling ride.

“Men are, that they may have joy.” “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.”  

Friends, in order to have joy, we must know sorrow, pain, sadness, and disappointment. Guess what this means, there are going to be BAD days.  Embrace them, hate them, but then let them go. Just let the bad days go. Seriously, chuck them out the window, flush them down the toilet, burn them in the fire, but let them go.  Learn from them, but don’t dwell on them. Chock it up to a bad day and remember that the odds are that tomorrow should be a GOOD day.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  

This one I’m still working on, but don’t do for your kids what they can do for themselves. Guess what…they can do more than you think! They can fold their own laundry at a young age.  Let them clean the toilet when they still think it’s fun.  If you want them to do the dishes well when they are twelve, they need to start before that.  A way to start this process is to not do anything alone.  Don’t cook alone: let them help, they like it. Don’t do the laundry alone: they can sort, fold, and put away.  Don’t do the dishes alone: let them load the dishwasher or dry the dishes. Another term that has helped me is called “piggy-backing.”  If dinner or the dishes still need to be done but so does their reading or spelling practice, have them read or spell to you while you dinner prep or wash dishes.  

“Men are free to choose.”  

Give them a choice. “Do you want to leave now or in 5 minutes?” (Then set a timer and stick to the timer!) “Do you want to write 4 or 6 sentences?” (They will learn greater than and less than on their own with these kinds of questions.)  “Do you want to do math or language arts first?” I often ask my kids, “On a scale of 1-10 how well did you do (the task)?”  Let them evaluate their own work and progress. They are often harder on themselves than you are.  As for curriculum, let them love learning! It’s OK if all they want to study about is animals or cars. Cars and animals can turn into writing assignments, math problems, science experiments, or history projects.  Eventually they will want to move onto a new topic. Ultimately they are responsible for their own education; you are there to assist and encourage their love for learning.

I’m laughing as I type this because I feel like such a hypocrite. I really need to take my own advice.  Friends, strive to do the best you can and let God do the rest.  He is on your side and wants your children to succeed.  You have the privilege and right to receive revelation for yourself and your family.  Strive to follow President Nelson’s counsel to hear, hearken, and heed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I wish much love to you as you press forward with faith.