Are you an Amateur or Professional Home Educator?

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Are You an Amateur or a Professional Homeschooler: The Homeschool Sanity Show PodcastHey homeschoolers!

I read the book, Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, this summer and it had a profound impact on me as a writer and curriculum publisher. But I found so much in the book that applies to us as homeschoolers. I want to share those lessons with you in this episode. But first I'd like to invite you to join me live on Facebook on Thursday evenings at 8:00 P.M. Central time. I'll be broadcasting from my Homeschool Sanity Facebook page and sharing saner homeschooling tips and answering your questions. If you haven't been on a live Facebook broadcast before, I think you'll find it enjoyable. You can chat with me and even with the other people watching. I plan on doing just a 15-minute broadcast and I may not be able to be live every week. But it's a goal I have for this school year. I hope to see you there!


Teaching Tip of the Week

is the Sloth app for iOS. Sloth is a timeboxing app. Timeboxing is a great way to manage time for homeschooling. I think of it as midway between a routine and a schedule. A routine does not have specific time limits for each task. You might have a morning routine of breakfast, chores, and some teaching, but you don't define how long each thing takes. A schedule defines that breakfast is from 8-8:30, chores are from 8:30-9:00 and so on. Timeboxing is a list of tasks you want to accomplish today and the amount of time you estimate you'll need to complete each one. The order of tasks can be moved around and you can take breaks between tasks or you can define a time limit for a break.

I have been using timeboxing with my child who is easily distracted and unfocused. I wanted a way that I would be reminded when he was done with one activity and was ready to start the next. I found the Sloth app and it's amazing. You simply enter the task and the amount of time it will take. I work with my son to define the tasks and the times. I am notified when time is up and I can clearly see what is up next. The app is flexible so breaks can be added, the timer can be paused, and task order can be changed. You could use this app to guide your whole family through the homeschool day or you could just use it for yourself. Best of all the app is free. If you're an Android user, check out DoNow which appears to do the same things.

Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week

is the Fall Bucket List Challenge

Become a Professional Home Educator

Turning Pro is a book primarily for writers and creators. It is not a Christian book and so some content is objectionable. But I want to share with you some of the characteristics of professionals from the book and apply them to homeschooling.

1.The professional is committed over the long haul.

I always used to say that we took homeschooling year by year. I think that's still true. But to be a home educator requires commitment. It can't be something that we give a half-hearted try. We have to be committed to homeschooling for as long as we are called to do it. Imagine a teacher in a traditional school thinking that she will teach as long as she likes it. Midway through the year, she quits because it isn't as fun as she hoped it would be. Professional home educators are committed to excellence for their students for as long as it takes. Their children's education is too important to them to be lackadaisical about it.

Commitment requires showing up ready to work every day. Professionals have excused absences, but not unexcused ones. “Not feeling it” isn't an excuse that professional educators use.

Commitment over the long haul also requires patience. The professional home educator knows that training children is a long-term process. A curriculum that doesn't work out or a child that is resistant doesn't lead the professional to consider quitting. She knows that the fruits of her labor are long in coming, but they are coming.

2. The professional seeks order.

This is not to say that professional home educators have perfectly organized school spaces. But neither is it the case that a professional home educator tolerates chaos and unnecessary disorder. A disorganized traditional classroom would not give parents confidence that their child's teacher was a professional. A sense of order creates confidence in our students. Our children respect us when we require them to clean up after a project, just as a classroom teacher would. They view us as professionals when they know where things are and have a general plan for the day.  A classroom teacher would not allow constant interruptions from phone calls and visitors asking for help and childcare. A professional home educator limits distractions assertively.

Professionals have to have things in order so they can think clearly and be at their best. Professional home educators are no different. Our office is our entire home, so professionals seek to create order in every space so her students can thrive. Professional home educators look to other teachers' best practices for mainting their schools and homes. Sleep and meal times are not erratic, so our students are well rested and able to learn.

3. The professional feels the fear and does it anyway.

Imagine going to a surgeon who refuses to do your surgery because he's too afraid to do it. That doesn't happen because surgeons are professionals. Professional home educators feel the fear of teaching a special needs child, teaching math when they struggled with it, or teaching high school when it just seems too hard and does it anyway. Professionals understand that fear comes from lack of experience. The solution to lack of experience isn't to quit before trying, but to try it–even though mistakes are inevitable. Unlike surgeon's patients, our choice of curriculum, teaching approach, or even parenting style is not a life-or-death scenario. Children are amazingly resilient. If you're happy, most likely they will be. They will forgive you your mistakes if you are humble and loving.

Professionals conquer fear by asking for help. They seek expert advice, hire medical professionals, and speak with experienced colleagues. Often they contract out areas that are not their expertise. They hire a math tutor, enroll their child in a chemistry lab, or pay for online courses. They stop researching, trying to learn enough about homeschooling to start, and just do it. They stop trying to find the perfect curriculum, and they use what they have. They don't wait to homeschool for the stars to align perfectly. They make this the year they will do it.

4. The professional self-validates.

The professional home educator doesn't need her mother, her in-laws, or even her husband to convince her she can do it. She knows that if God has called her, He will equip her. She realizes that she knows more about homeschooling than 90% of people she knows. She is confident that what she doesn't know, she will learn. She reminds herself that no one loves her children the way she does.

The professional home educator doesn't need high test scores to tell her she is the best teacher for her children. She doesn't need the admiration of other homeschoolers for her child doing well in competitions. And she knows that she is not her child. Her child is separate from her with his own strengths and weaknesses and even sins. She knows that her child's poor choices do not have anything to say about her standing as a home educator.

Are you a professional? If you're an amateur instead, you can decide today to go pro. Be committed to home educating. Show up to work every day. Patiently wait for the fruits of homeschooling. Seek order and routine in your homeschooling and life. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Stop putting off what you know you're called to do. Self-validate. Stop looking to others to tell you that you can do this. Know that you can by the grace of God.

Today's Action Steps

Join me on Facebook Live this Thursday at 8:00 Central on the Homeschool Sanity Facebook page. Check out the Sloth or DoNow app and give timeboxing a try. And go pro. Don't be an amateur any longer.

This episode of the Homeschool Sanity Show is brought to you by The Organized Homeschool Life. You can have the order that a professional like you needs. Get your copy at

Have a happy homeschool week!

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Author: Dr. Mel

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