When I started homeschooling my oldest daughter seven years ago, I chose to do it.  I had time to dream and plan and seek advice.  To read books and think about her learning style and factor in our family’s schedule.

And that was preschool—and she was my only student at the time.

This year, many moms out there will be homeschooling for the first time. Some of you have high schoolers and the relational changes that come with that stage of parenting; some of you have multiple children of multiple ages you’ll be wrangling (I mean, teaching); some of you may say this wasn’t your first choice, but now, it feels like your only choice.

Let me whisper some truth to you: as a mom, your first priority is your relationship with your child, right? As a homeschool mom, that doesn’t change. 

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That’s right, take a deep breath. Just because you’re transitioning into the role of “teacher-at-home” doesn’t mean you have to kiss your relationship with your child goodbye.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned to help preserve—maybe even enhance—your bond with your child through the ups and downs of homeschooling:

1. Start your day by dedicating a few moments to God together. 

Whether you do this by reading a portion of the Bible out loud, spending a minute in prayer, or just listing a few of the blessings you’re thankful for, beginning your school day by giving it to God can help you and your child remember that you’re on the same team. And it can help you, mama, remember that you’re not doing this alone.

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2. Begin your school-time by doing something you (all) enjoy. 

I remember in my early days as a homeschool mom, I would begin the day with math, thinking, “Let’s get it out of the way so we can do something FUN!” It took me years to learn that kicking off the day with our least favorite subject did not exactly set the tone I wanted. Now we begin by reading some silly poems together, or doing our art lesson, or even with a board game—something that gets us excited to learn.

3. Remember that it’s all learning. 

There is nothing you do during your day that is not educational. When you’re baking together, that’s an opportunity to practice math skills. If they dig in the garden with you, they’ll observe bugs and watch plant life-cycles unfold firsthand. When they tell you all about a movie they watched or a book they read, they’re practicing narration and summary skills. Relax and remember that even though the home environment will not look like the classroom environment, they are still always learning.

4. When in doubt, read aloud. 

Pick a favorite book from your own childhood and read it aloud to them. If your children are older, ask them to read their favorite book out loud to you. No one is too old to enjoy a good read-aloud, and stories can be a beautiful way to spend time together.

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5. Have a schedule, but be flexible. 

Remember when you had babies in diapers (or maybe you still do) and you would plan outings, but be late to them because someone needed changing or feeding? The same is true as a homeschool mom. You may make your schedule each day because you find comfort in routine (I know I do) but find yourself crossing items off your to-do list as the day ticks on. During this extra time at home with your children, real needs may come to the surface, and you want to give yourself time to address those needs, even if it means putting aside your to-do list. This doesn’t mean you’re not doing a good job teaching. It means the most important tasks for that day were not on the list.

6. Have a certain time each day when you take off your teacher-hat and put on your mom-hat. 

For me, it’s 3 p.m. Even if we haven’t finished everything on the list by 3:00, we still close the books. Everybody needs a break sometimes, and kids need lots of time to play and digest what they are learning. Homeschooling moms also need a time when they can put down the burden of teaching and simply be Mommy.

7. Take good care of yourself. 

I’ve learned that just like I can’t pour from an empty cup, I can’t teach well when I’m exhausted or stressed. Take quiet time for yourself, take time for a cup of coffee with a friend, go for a walk—whatever you need to do to make your own health a priority. Homeschooling, like motherhood, is a marathon, not a sprint—do the things that give you energy and fill your cup back up.

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One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling is that you get to learn WITH your children. If you delight in spending time with your children and in digging into your favorite subjects together, they will find that delight, too. And on days when the delight is hard to find, don’t give up—it’s coming.

This book earned 5 out of 5 stars for a reason! It’s a great read for families who have been homeschooling all along, or who are just jumping in this year. 

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This book is PACKED with hands-on, inexpensive activities to keep your kids learning while having fun! 

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We love this gorgeous planner as a tool to keep you (and your kids!) organized and on track during your homeschooling journey. 

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Laura Costea

Laura Costea is the author of "The Inheritance," a novel about faith, family, and small-town life. She is passionate about Jesus, the outdoors, and strong cups of coffee. Laura is blessed to live in Idaho with her husband and four young children. You can find her online at www.howtobless.com.