In today’s episode, I have Nikki from Life Lovely Choas.
*Update July 2019: Nikki no longer has the blog Life Lovely Choas.*
She is a mother of four and has come to share her best tips for homeschooling.
Nikki never really thought she would be homeschooling her kids. Homeschooling became an option after her son was having a difficult time in school.
When Nikki asked to have her son held back and was denied, that is when she began to explore her options.
What really pushed her to homeschool her kids was when her daughter, who as in 2nd grade at the time, was bullied and attacked by another kid at school.
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Before beginning homeschool full time, Nikki had her kids attend a charter school.
The kids would go to school twice a week to study science and history and homeschooled 3 days a week doing language arts and math.
I found this to be an excellent option if you are thinking of testing out homeschooling or if you want to give your child more individual attention in subjects they may be struggling in.
Nikki has been homeschooling for 4 years now and has experience in how to make it all work.
How to start homeschooling today
What are Nikki’s best tips for how to homeschool your kids? You came to the right place.
Forget grade levels
“When you’re looking at an age and saying, my child should be doing this by this age, you’re still setting these major milestones and goals for them to have to hit and if they’re not ready to hit those, if they don’t hit them on time, it’s going to cause stress.”
Nikki explains that this stresses you, which gets transferred to your kids.
Then soon your kids will be stressed out about school. This also brings in negativity for you and your kids that you don’t need.
“You wouldn’t push your infant toddler to walk at a certain age. So why are you pushing your children to start something if they’re not ready?”
This is why Nikki says to forget grade levels. Just focus on progress.
Don’t get caught up in curriculums
“There are so many options out there and you’re going to always come across new ones and especially with blogging world. A lot of women are making courses now so you’re always going to think, well maybe I should do this or maybe this would fit and they do get costly. So you do want to also make sure you pick the right one.”
Nikki suggests picking a curriculum and start with one topic and try it out.
Know that there is a possibility that your kids may not like the curriculum and you may not even like the curriculum.
Know that’s okay. You have to find what works for you and your kids.
Nikki doesn’t necessarily use a curriculum. She relies on books, the internet, and the library when beginning homeschool.
There was one resource that Nikki did purchase that she recommends called Home Learning Year By Year.
Nikki uses this as her guide to know where her kids should be by grade level.
“It’s just a guide for me to kind of go and makes sure, okay, we are doing forward movement in what you eventually need to know.”
Don’t stress about having it all together
“Don’t stress having it all together. You’re not going to. None of us do. If you can plan your whole year, by all means do it. That’s amazing. But if you can’t, don’t stress it.”
Nikki shared that during the first year of homeschooling her schedule changed almost every month.
This got her frustrated because she would have to come up with a new scheduled each time.
Now she schedules week by week. This helps when your child may take longer to grasp a concept or complete a lesson one week.
Planning one week at a time prevents the frustration that comes when your child is not following your schedule.
Resources to help with beginning homeschool
Now you may be thinking “Okay, I’m ready. Where do I get started.” I asked Nikki for resources she recommends to get you started with homeschooling your little one.
“Pinterest will become your best friend, but you also can’t get too consumed with it because there’s so much on there.”
Nikki finds Pinterest to be the best place to search for printables.
But she also cautions not to focus your homeschool just on printable work because then you’re just giving your kids all busy work.
You can also find information on different styles of homeschooling, science projects and much more on Pinterest.
Khan Academy is a math website that you can use for your child.
“My girls love it and I love it because it has videos for math and teaches them. And then they do the work and the quizzes and it grades it. So it frees up time for me and I don’t have to buy a curriculum for them.”
Nikki recommends check out other homeschool mom bloggers. One of Nikki’s favorites that send out printables every week is Minnesota Country Girl.
I signed up to receive her printables to help me get started. And also supplement what my son is learning in public school. If the day comes that we do decide to homeschool our kids, this is a good place to start.
Sharla at Minnesota Country Girl gives TONS of information about homeschooling on her blog and if you sign up and are on her email list.
How to balance being a mom, homeschooling and everything else
It’s so easy to focus heavily on one area of life and find that you are lacking somewhere else in your life.
With homeschooling your little one, you definitely want to give yourself time. So how does Nikki balance it all?
“What I found is I’ve got a focus at least 10-15 minutes a day on myself to balance myself and I usually spend that time in a bath or sometimes just in my room listening to a podcast or something.”
I wasn’t surprised to hear that Nikki makes time for self-care daily. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
“Some days we just kind of have to throw out the schedule and we go out. We live in the mountains, so we do a lot of hiking. And it gets a little stressful because it throws my schedule off, but by the end of the day I’ll realize, you know, what our family needs it.”
Nikki has found that not having a daily schedule works better for her family.
Having a schedule put too much pressure on her and the rest of the family to follow.
“So I now create a weekly schedule, but it’s more of just a to-do list that I add to and I cross things out as I go through the week.”
Now, Nikki doesn’t have a daily schedule, but she does have a daily routine.
It looks like this:
Go for a morning run at 6:30.
Then, personal time to work on her blog from 8 to 10.
After that, is homeschool time from 10 to 2.
The kids then go outside and play for an hour after homeschool. Afterward, there is clean up time.
Then the rest of the day is free for her to “wing it.”
How to handle burn out
When I asked Nikki about how to prevent burn out I was a little surprised by her response.
“Well, you definitely can’t prevent it. It happens to us all. It’s inevitable.”
I think I was expecting her to give me this super secret to prevent burn out. It was good to hear her candid response and her advice on how to handle burn out.
“What I’ve learned as soon as you start to get stressed about something, just stop. Stop homeschooling, stop working … Stop forcing the things that are burning you out because it’s going to be this downward spiral and the longer you let it happen, the harder it is to get out of it.”
Instead of sticking with the curriculum, take a break and do some out of the box learning. Like going to a museum for the day or try doing some adventurous outside.
If you need to, let the dishes stay in the sink. Do whatever you need to do to keep your sanity and quickly get out of the burn out stage.
Leave a comment below with your homeschooling questions for Nikki.
- Don’t stress out about your child’s grade level or finding the perfect curriculum. Focus on your child making progress.
- Don’t beat yourself up about not having everything all together. It is okay if you don’t.
- Find awesome resources, tips, and tricks by searching on Pinterest and utilizing the links below.
- Remember to take the time to care for yourself.
- If you feel like you are getting burned out with homeschooling, it is okay to take a break.
Links mentioned in this episode
- 6:42 – Nikki’s best tips for getting started with homeschooling
- 13:37 – Resources Nikki recommends
- 16:09 – How Nikki balances it all
- 19:48 – Nikki’s daily routine
- 21:23 – How to deal with burn out
- 23:56 – Nikki’s superpower
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