homeschool mom making resolutions

8 New Years’ Resolutions for Homeschoolers

It’s New Year’s, the time for resolutions!

The turning of the year is a time when we reflect on our lives and make resolutions about positive changes we’d like to make in the coming year. For homeschoolers, self-reflection on our homeschooling is integral to successful home education.

When I was going to college for my education degree, the old veteran educators had a saying, “Don’t laminate your lesson plans.” This means don’t get so attached to your way of doing things that you close yourself off from self-improvement—don’t treat your way of doing things as if carved in stone and can’t be improved. Even if you’re firmly settled in your routine, you should be aware of ways you could improve. Today, I’d like to offer eight resolutions to consider for your homeschooling New Year!

More Fun Time!

It’s no secret that homeschooling can become stressful. Educating multiple children, getting them to extracurricular events, and maintaining the house can be overwhelming. If we are not careful, our daily life can turn into a ceasless grind, where our focus is merely moving from one task to the next. This year, resolve to allow space for more fun time, both for yourself and your family. This might mean the kids do one less class or extracurricular activity; it might mean you step back from volunteering at the parish or cut out some other obligation in order to free up more time for fun. In weight training, periods of rest are essential for building muscle because it is during rest that muscle growth happens. Similarly, periods of rest and recreation are essential for a healthy family, so make sure you create these spaces!

Read Daily

One wholesome resolution is to plan on spending more time reading, individually and as a family. Last spring, we did an article about the troubling decline in childhood leisure reading. Fewer children than ever are reading for fun. You can change this by encouraging more recreational reading among your children.

If the culprit is screen time, an easy way to get around this is to tie screen privileges to reading time—have a rule that every 15 minutes of screen time must be earned by 15 minutes of reading, for example. For younger children, make time to read out loud to them, a practice with many benefits. Resolve to spend more time reading on your own as well. If you don’t have much time, try to carve out little nooks throughout the day where you can get away for a few minutes with a book. Instead of taking a shower, take a bath and bring a book. Take a book into the bathroom with you instead of your phone. When you wake up, spend a few minutes on the couch with a book instead of doom-scrolling; ditto before bed.

Organize Field Trips

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the time flexibility. Since our kids are not stuffed in a building eight hours a day, there are vastly more opportunities for educational outings. But how often do we take advantage of them? Resolve to do a few more field trips with your kids this year. Get them out of the house and into the world. As Gandalf told Bilbo, “The world isn’t in your books and maps. It’s out there.” I

f you need ideas, I recommend reviewing our article “Catholic Homeschool Field Trips: Top Ten Tips.” This will get the wheels of your mind turning. it doesn’t have to be much. Even just adding one a semester is great!

Get Organized!

Homeschooling is always going to be a little messy. The accumulation of books, papers, and curricula can challenge our organizational capabilities. Left year after year, disorganization and clutter can become a real problem. Organization isn’t something that can be implemented overnight. It requires an entire mindset change and resolution to tackle clutter at the outset rather than procrastinate.

Not to worry, though; just start small! Every broad life habits begins as a series of smaller, daily life choices. Resolve to organize just one thing. For example, go through those boxes of curricula that have been sitting in the closet for six years. Or bring some organization to the cluttered bookshelves in the corner of your family room. Just pick one specific project to tackle! If you need encouragement, check out our articles “Life as a Junk Drawer” and “Tips for Homeschool Time Management.

Hands-On Activities

If you feel like your homeschooling has become a little stultified or too routine, consider planning for more hands-on activities this year. These could be incorporated into your science classes as labs, or they can simply be fun, tactile activities with an educational bent. This can be outdoor stuff like going on a nature trail and identifying types of plants or an indoor activity like learning a historical recipe. Maybe it’s a “garage” sort of project like helping dad build a bookcase. These sorts of activities are generally easy to plan and will introduce variety into your homeschooling routine.

Get Physically Active

Modern life is becoming increasingly sedentary with each passing year. Coupled with the ubiquity of processed foods with reduced nutritional content, the United States is facing an unprecedented crisis of obesity. Recent studies suggest that 39.6% of American adults are obese; the CDC estimates that the rates are around 19.7% for children under age 19.

Resolving to introduce more physical activities into your homeschool is a beneficial practice. It need not be rigorous like a gym membership or enrolling children in a sport (although if you have the time and money, that’s a great idea, too). It can be as simple as regular family hikes, bike rides, or walks to the corner store. The point is to inculcate habits of physical fitness into your family.

Make New Friends

Every adult knows how challenging it is to maintain friendships amid a busy family life. As teenagers, we were social creatures who thrived on interaction with friends. When we reach our thirties and forties, we have to schedule visits weeks in advance that get canceled 50% of the time. This calls to mind the joke that Jesus’s greatest miracle was that He had twelve close friends in his thirties.

Obviously you can’t pretend like the obligations of family life don’t exist, but why not resolve to take the very small social step of reaching out and making a new friend? Sit by someone new at Coffee and Donuts. Get involved with an online homeschool community and offer to mentor a young homeschool mother. Tell your pastor you’re willing to welcome new families to the parish. These are easy things that can mean a great deal. If we do not actively cultivate our social life it will shrink.

Enjoy Homeschooling

Finally, rediscover the Joy. Resolve that you are going to enjoy homeschooling. This one may seem intuitive; why would we be homeschooling if we didn’t enjoy it? Homeschooling can be difficult at times. When we are juggling multiple responsibilities, or when the instability of life intrudes upon our plans, the homeschooling day can begin to feel like something we need to “get through,” like a semester-long endurance test. If this has been your experience for a while, a good resolution is to get yourself back to a place where you can enjoy the process of homeschooling. There will always be days where you just need to buckle down and grind it out, but resolve to rediscover the joy of homeschooling. This is a good time of year to review your homeschooling goals, both short and long-term, and remind yourself why you decided on homeschooling to begin with.

I invite you to join me and other Catholic homeschooling parents at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group to connect and learn from other HSC families.

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