Get Through the First Semester of Homeschool: It’s Worth It

tips from homeschool parents

Families across the country are starting out a school year unlike any other before. Parents are in the process of figuring out how to balance their jobs and the incumbent responsibility of educating their kids. For some, that means handling lessons every other day between in-person classes; for others, it means choosing full-time homeschooling.

Parents who have decided to take on the big job of educating their children from home are tackling something completely new and foreign. If you’re one of these parents, you probably feel like you’re staring up at a mountain you know you have to climb while recognizing that you haven’t trained for that kind of hike…and you’re thinking, can I even do this?

The answer is, yes. It might hurt a little, and it will be a challenge – you’re not wrong there. But we know something for sure: Every homeschool parent has been exactly where you are…overwhelmed at the bottom of that mountain looking up. But once you get over that first mountain, which in this case, is the first semester of homeschool, you will be so glad you went for it. How can we be so sure? Because other homeschool parents say so.

What real homeschool parents say about the first semester

We don’t want to sugarcoat it; there will be a learning curve and challenges to start. That being said, the end result can be so rewarding if you can get through the tough parts at the beginning. Here’s what a few Abeka homeschool parents had to say about the challenges they’ve faced at the start of their first homeschool year

The challenge: “Our challenge is falling into a great routine during the day. The first week is mentally exhausting. I get tension headaches just from the transition.”

The solution: “A good sleep schedule and a relaxed mindset helped a lot. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to have a great start. It goes fantastic for the kids but I have to remember to mentally take little breaks. We are in week 3 now and in a really good place. Plus, the transition goes faster every year.”

– Melinda J.

The challenge: “We came from public school, and I actually struggled with the flexibility of homeschooling at first.”

The solution: “My mind was blown that we could start school at 9 a.m., use whatever color notebook we wanted to, and school didn’t take all day! We were done by lunch — was I doing something wrong? Nope! We were enjoying learning together, our way!”

– Kim S.

The challenge: “Getting into a routine is a major challenge, but it is very important.”

The solution: “I try to remind people that it can take 4-6 weeks to get into a good routine. Be consistent and give yourself a lot of Grace.”

– Farmhouse of Blessings

The theme in these quotes is, it takes time to find the right routine for your family. But with a little self-grace, dedication, and some good sleep, it gets easier. Here are a few tips for how to reach a peaceful place when it comes to your first semester of homeschool.

How to get ahead of first-semester homeschool challenges

Find what works for your family

Some homeschool families enjoy a structured approach to homeschool, and they stick to the same schedule every day. Other families would rather take a play-it-by-ear approach to each day. The great thing is, neither way is better or worse – they’re just different routes to the same result! Don’t be afraid to try out more than one homeschool style.

Take breaks when you need them, and don’t forget to enjoy the biggest perk of homeschool – flexibility!

Give yourself (and your kids) grace

Nobody has a great day every single day. The last thing you should do is get down on yourself (or your kids) when things do not go as planned. Brush it off and keep going. Tomorrow is a clean slate and a new opportunity to try again.

If you didn’t get through as much as you intended to in one day, you know what’s a priority the next, and you can start earlier. If one of your kids is struggling through reading and getting frustrated, it can be hard to watch. You might feel helpless. But once again, tomorrow, there’s an opportunity to start fresh and try a new tactic. Grace is the key. God gives us grace as an example for us to follow, and that applies to ourselves as well as to others.

Celebrate the little wins

Maybe your daughter hasn’t mastered her multiplication tables yet, but she’s dominating in spelling and grammar. Make time to celebrate that success! Get everyone in the family involved – after dinner, have a sundae-making party in her honor, and then have everyone gather together to watch her favorite movie. By celebrating her achievements, you are, in turn, showing her that hard work pays off. And she will be extra motivated to get those multiplication tables down.

Some homeschool families like to celebrate the halfway point of their homeschool year to acknowledge the achievement, gain some energy from the excitement, and refocus for the final semester. It can be a fun way to keep the momentum going!

Learn something from each day

At the end of each day, set aside 10 to 15 minutes to talk with your kids about what went well and what didn’t. There’s always something to be grateful for and something to learn from. Maybe it’s as simple as recognizing that staying up late the night before was a mistake because everyone was cranky the day after. Or, reflecting on how much time was dedicated to seat work and whether it was fruitful. What you learn from one day will help make tomorrow even better.

Now that you’re prepared for what’s to come, here are a few of the other questions most new-to-homeschool families have when they’re getting started.

Answers to questions we know new-to-homeschool families have

Where can I get a real guide for how to do homeschool for the first time?

We put together an actual guide for how to do this homeschool thing with new homeschool families in mind. Whether you’re at square one, trying to navigate the homeschool laws in your state, or already in the thick of it, navigating the murky lesson planning waters, this guide will walk you through it all.

How long does homeschool take?

Many new parents want to know, how long does a homeschool day actually take? That all depends on how you want to break it up. If you’re planning to take a parent-led approach, it can take 3 to 4 hours per day to get through the required subjects and subsequent seat work.

If you’re concerned about planning and preparation adding to your daily tasks, our parent kits are a great place to start. They guide you step by step through each lesson, and even include a script in case you get stuck.

If you’re taking a video-led approach, your job is to be there to support your kids in their time management and help with questions. The rest is left up to the experienced teachers leading our streaming video lessons. Each subject’s lessons take around 40 minutes, and there are five subjects. That amounts to a little less than 3.5 hours per day.

There are a variety of homeschool styles out there to consider, each of which caters to a different set of needs. There’s a lot to consider, but isn’t it great to have options that are customizable to your family? We sure think so. Now, what else do you need for your homeschool year?

What do you need?

If you simply want to compare notes with other homeschool parents on what you need to have on hand for your first semester, take a look through this list. We asked veteran Abeka homeschool families what their must-haves are for their homeschool setup each year, and they shared some really great ideas. It’s everything from bins to dry-erase boards and earphones and everything in between.

If you’re missing that school supplies list that teachers usually send home, don’t worry. We put that together for you too. You can download the school supplies list for your child’s grade here.

At the end of the day, if you still end up with more questions, Abeka is always here to answer them. This blog is a great resource for the most common questions our customer service gets.

The end result of homeschool will be worth it

After you get through all the questions, the first semester trial and error, and find the right routine, you might just look up and realize, Hey, this homeschool thing is working out pretty well. According to recent studies, parents are continuing to take the same path you’re on. In fact, over 2.5 million children are being homeschooled in the U.S. as of spring 2019. Since COVID-19, that number continues to rise.

A few of the resounding reasons parents choose to homeschool are:

1. The freedom in choosing the right technique

2. Flexibility

3. Faith in education

4. Safety and environment

Of course, these aren’t the only reasons why parents continue to choose homeschool over a traditional school approach to education. While the recent pandemic may have been the catalyst for many parents who made the decision to homeschool this year, the benefits hold true no matter the climate. Research shows that homeschooling has academic advantages over the public school system for students, regardless of whether or not parents have received higher education, let alone a teaching degree. It’s hard to argue with better academic results.

If you’re using Abeka this year, our hope is, your kids discover a love of learning and grow in their relationship with God. And just as importantly, it’s our strong desire that they are reaching the important academic milestones you know they can reach.

Nothing inspires us more than hearing that Abeka families are reaching their goals:

“Our daughter utilized Abeka prior to her attending public kindergarten. When I saw her weekly assignment to learn words like ‘to’ and ‘my’ and a challenge word like ‘yellow’ I uploaded a picture of her reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to the teacher’s Facebook group. Her teacher thought it was a hoax until my daughter read to the class. There was never an established baseline such as ‘hey, this kid already knows how to read.’ Public schools seem to teach to the lowest denominator. We now have our daughter learning Abeka Homeschool’s First Grade curriculum.”

– William R.

The benefits of Abeka Homeschool

When you choose Abeka, you aren’t just choosing a homeschool curriculum. You’re selecting a biblically-based, college preparatory education that’s been researched and written by veteran educators. We’ve been in the education field since 1972, and we are proud to provide our families with a time-tested, accredited approach to teaching at a price you can afford.

Full accreditation and college preparatory enrollment

Abeka provides your child with a college preparatory, traditional, structured curriculum developed by experienced Christian school teachers. Select the fully accredited option at no additional charge, or choose independent study if added flexibility works better for your child.

When you choose the accredited option, Abeka provides you with the official report cards and transcripts whenever you need them. These are crucial to the college application process and only available to accredited homeschool programs

Affordable pricing and payment plans

Any family who makes a purchase of $350 or more is eligible for our payment plan, which allows you to pay over the course of 10 months with the first monthly amount due at checkout.

When you select one of our Abeka Academy full grades (tuition and books or just tuition), we offer two affordable payment plan options. The first allows you to pay over the course of 10 months with the first monthly amount due at checkout. The second option is to save $75 by paying in full up front.

Gives you flexibility and freedom

When you choose a full-grade enrollment through our video lesson program, Abeka Academy, and select the books to go along with your tuition, you’ll immediately receive an email link to redeem your enrollment. From there, you can begin exploring the easy-to-use dashboard, customize your calendar, keep track of lesson plans, and give your kids their daily assignments. Everything you need for the school year will be at your fingertips.

While you may look back on this year as one unlike any other, you may just find that your family is closer and happier than ever before. We are praying that’s the case. If you ever need a little extra help or just a word of encouragement, please reach out to us. The Abeka community is also made up of a wonderful group of people who would love to help. Join our Facebook or Instagram to get connected.

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