We are gearing up for another homeschooling year. WOW! It is not always easy or even pretty. With six children there is plenty of noise, movement, and wiggles, but after eight years I can say it is worth every moment!

This year I will be teaching K–8th grades, plus have two toddlers in tow. That is a wide range of education and it will be a challenge. We also have a wide range of learning styles. My daughter Grace is starting 8th grade. She likes—almost needs—strict order. She wants set hours, work, and books. My next daughter is an artist and a complete free spirit. You might know that my mom, Debi Pearl, taught all her children with the free-spirit style. I have enjoyed finding balance. For my strict order child, I follow the curriculum like the letter of the law. The other six children are all like me—they love sand, flour, colors, blocks, and fun. They make science explosions and maps from clay, paint pictures, and write stories based on plays they are producing. And while they are having these days of fun, they are learning to read, write, and do math.

This year we will use some ACE paces and Math-U-See™ blocks. We will read stories from the older children’s paces to the little ones, which teaches the older children to read aloud and the younger ones to listen. It also teaches the older children how to answer questions from the little ones and causes the readers to pay attention to what they are reading. Involving all the children in each others’ schooling is a healthy relationship builder. Every day there will be activities based on the day’s lesson, but we will change them up as it suits our family.

Here are my tips for homeschooling in 2018:

#1 Relax.

Homeschooling should not be a burden, and if you miss a day, the world will not end and your child will not be ruined. Again, I say RELAX. Everything that could be done wrong in homeschooling has already been done by parents before you. And guess what—their kids grew up to get a college degree and are now happily married, expecting their tenth kid, and can’t remember beans about their lessons when their mama was having a breakdown because…You get my drift? We mamas tend to feel that what we are doing right here, right now is so important that we can’t relax, but we must.

#2 Enjoy your children.

Spend school time having a good time. It will quickly become a good habit.

#3 Learn together.

When I look back to my own years of being homeschooled, I remember we did so much learning together, doing many projects and having fun with Mom. Learning together is multiplying memories.

#4 Read together.

I know families where everyone breaks up and goes their separate ways to do their reading alone. They are missing so much! When you read together you are going on an adventure together. Your older children will be the leaders of the adventure because they are reading to the little ones. READ TOGETHER!

#5 Make sure you do math in a creative manner.

Use blocks, steps, money, time—anything that allows the children to actually SEE what math is doing. It makes bookwork a breeze.

#6 Find your child’s style and do it THEIR way.

If you have a strict-order child, then let them set the pattern they feel comfortable with. If you have free-spirited children but are a strict-order parent, then GROW with your child and learn to enjoy the other side of the mountain!

#7 Don’t let curriculum…

…destroy your relationship with your child, thus making your school days miserable! I like to say, “Use curriculum; don’t let curriculum USE you.”

Remember that education can’t happen in a stressed environment. Learn to relax and enjoy your family, and learning will be natural.