It’s been a while since I’ve posted. That’s because this whole homeschool thing has been kicking. my. behind. No joke. Trying to find balance between regular home/wife/mom duties, teaching a middle schooler, teaching a first grader, and keeping a wild-as-snot, overly-temperamental (but so adorable) two-year old entertained so said school work can get done has proven to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated.
That being said, I’ve done some learning and growing myself these past few weeks, and I’ve decided to post a list of lessons I’ve learned so far (mostly as a reminder to myself as the school year continues!)…
- Wake up early, but let them sleep. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am NOT a morning person. I don’t talk, I don’t think, I don’t hear, I just don’t function until I have crawled out of bed, showered, and caffeinated. So, with three early risers in the house, I have to make myself get up early and do those things so that I can love on them when they burst out of bed. (And on the rare occasion that they are still sleeping past 7:00, I let them sleep! If they are still snoring, chances are their bodies need the rest, so I’ll take those sacred moments and let them lie.)
- Organization is a must! I have to be as prepared as I can be before our day gets going… because if they’re waiting for me to get my act together or gather lesson materials or whatever, trouble will come. Messes will be made, fights will be started, and attention will be lost. For our family, I have found that work drawers and assignment notebooks work great, and I keep sensory boxes prepared for the little one (and just embrace the mess that creates- the mess is worth the few minutes of peace!).
- Be flexible and think outside the box- homeschool gives us great freedom! We don’t have to sit inside at a desk all day. We’ve used stuffed animals for history reenactments, Barbies and Legos for math problem solving, sidewalk chalk on the driveway for fact practice… whatever works! And when all else fails, we take it outside- it’s amazing what a little sunshine and fresh air will do for everyone’s moods on a hard day!
- Home Ec is an opportunity for learning. I caught myself stressing over the mess of the house while the kids were just waiting for me to get school started… so I put them to work! It’s important for them to take responsibility around the house and learn to work as a family, and it’s amazing how much faster chore time goes when everyone pitches in.
- Don’t be afraid of technology. I know we should limit screen time, and I’m not saying park your kid in front of the t.v. all day. But there are lots of resources available that children enjoy- YouTube videos for science and history, documentaries and educational television, Internet research, making PowerPoint presentations, typing notes on the computer instead of writing, educational games on tablets, etc.
- Learn on the go! We stay busy, and medical appointments are a regular part of our weeks, but school must go on! So we learn wherever we go… Bookbags with books and practice sheets go in the car, flashcards in mom’s purse for waiting rooms, learning about healthy foods and budgets at the grocery store, and taking time to stop along the way to explore new places and enjoy nature.
- Encourage creativity. My girls are artsy and hands-on, so nothing makes them happier than some craft supplies and time to use them. They also love having opportunities for free play- and I have found that often their playtime incorporates things we’ve been learning about! They act out scenes from books, pretend to be scientists, set up pretend stores and use their math skills to buy and sell, play school and actually teach each other… learning doesn’t stop during playtime.
- QUIET TIME! This is a must in our house. This mommy is an extreme introvert, meaning I desperately need quiet, alone time or I cannot function. So that’s a regular part of our day, and everyone knows it. During the afternoon we take at least one hour for everyone to retreat to their own rooms and chill. For the older girls, that requires thirty minutes of reading (free reading or assigned reading, and we LOVE books on CD!). Some days quiet time has to be enforced, while other days it continues well beyond an hour without anyone realizing it- and that’s okay. But when it does end, we are all in a much better mood and are ready to interact and enjoy each other.
- Don’t try to do it all. I was a classroom teacher for 9+ years before starting this homeschool journey. It was ingrained in me that you use every second of the day for learning- no down time. That meant covering every subject thoroughly and cramming in every possible worksheet and game and activity. And in a classroom setting, that is helpful- it keeps students engaged and lessens chaos that occurs when many children have little to do. But this is not a classroom! This is a family, this is a home, this is life… and we can learn through many avenues. We don’t have to pull out every textbook for every subject every day. We don’t have to do every suggested lesson, or every activity or worksheet that accompanies every lesson. It’s not always necessary, so don’t feel pressured to squeeze it all in every day. Enjoy learning, enjoy your children, enjoy the journey.
- And I saved the best for last- Know when to call it a day. In this house full of hard-heads, we can push each other to the brink of insanity in no time flat. Some days, someone just doesn’t get a lesson. Some days, someone just needs more attention or more downtime. Some days we just have to put our plans on hold and take a break- and we have that opportunity. For me, it comes down to remember our ultimate goal- what is it I want from my children? What do I want them to learn more than anything? What do I want to see in their lives? Honestly, it isn’t math fact mastery or acing another test or reading the entire textbook. It’s to see them love Jesus, to watch them grow as disciples, to become servants who love others the way Jesus loves. The books and the studies are important in helping them become who He wants them to be, but those aren’t the main purpose. So, some days we just have to pause, or totally stop, and learn to pray, to love, to serve, and to focus on the One who put us on this journey to start with.
So, friends, that’s a little bit of what I’ve learned and I hope to remember as we keep on trucking… What tips do you have?