Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Homeschooling 101

There will be days like this: one is sick, one forgot half her math, one is home from college and is trying to sleep in, one has PMS, one is disobedient................

Then the kids are having problems too.

Number one part of homeschool planning is planning for 'those days' so they become an opportunity instead of a drain. I had to learn this the first year we homeschooled. Not only did I have a babe in arms I became pregnant and had horrible morning sickness. Also my sister-in-law was getting married and we really wanted to help her have a special event.

Looking at your end goal helps with this. Our children need to grow up to be competent adults in areas beyond academics so focusing on housework, yard work, and cooking are all necessary over the course of their school year. We want them to be able to converse on many topics so focusing on Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, family history, current events and even sports help them become well rounded. These are also the types of activities that can both control the chaos in our homes and alleviate stressful times.

So lets make a list of things to do on one of 'those days' and give each other permission to set aside the Math and diagramming for a day. A longer list is available here in a post about handling summer boredom.

1) Go through your old music and teach the kids a dance move. Better yet just let them explore movement while listening. Play at least 3 different genres-- you don't have to stick with Classical or Christian.

2) Paint! Mom too! try just using blue and green water color. Sprinkle with salt while wet to have a beautiful ocean. (also works with dessert colors)

3) Bake and let them help. OK so its Lent: try tortillas, wheat bread, breakfast muffins or fill the freezer with treats for Easter.

4) Start seeds. I have a brown thumb, maybe even a moldy thumb but so what! If the seeds don't grow buy plants when its warmer.

5)Spring Clean Actually empty a room to sweep and clean. Let their voices echo! (I've always wanted to clean like this: My sister's Italian family did. It sounds so refreshing.)

6) Yard work DH tried this over the weekend. Raked just for the exercise in the spring weather and felt the stress easing.

7) Speaking of exercise: I don't. Well I have but rarely. Its time. A long walk would do me good.

Now I know what you are thinking. If you are stressed and loosing it you will end up yelling because of the mess or directions or something. Here is one trick I've used successfully:
I set them up doing something messy, fun, etc in the dining room with music playing. Big kids in charge of little kids. While they are busy I make several 5 minute visits to other rooms in the house for a quick pick up. First visit I pull out what doesn't belong like dirty laundry and dishes. Second visit general pick up. Third visit wiping or sweeping. I work my way from the top of the house down checking on them often.
As soon as I have the upper floors ready I have them start cleaning their mess (with my help )and tackle more of the first floor. Then a quick lunch or snack followed by outside play. Keep them out of the clean rooms for half an hour!. By then our souls are ready for a story, movie or rest during which the house stays clean, sometimes till dad gets home!
It doesn't always work-- today I didn't realize how much I needed our backup plan until it was too late. We used a simpler one. The young teens worked on the second floor away from little ones. The sicky sat on the couch and I took time to get myself clean and wash her laundry after her stomach settled. Our afternoon will be our library finds from yesterday. Simple yet school.

Remember when you have one of those days that you are teaching your children how to handle life. They are watching and learning. We have a special homeschooling gift when Life happens: summer. We have 365 days to finish our work and are not restricted to the school year. See this as gift rather than punishment and everything gets done.

Most of all spend time in prayer. Only God has the grace to help you through this calling: not the friend who homeschools or your husband, mom or sister. Only God.

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