It’s officially my seventh year teaching my children at home, and I confess: I can’t seem to find a good rhythm this year. I know, *gasp!*
If you’re Supermom and have never had trouble balancing your homeschool schedule, you’re going to want to stop reading now. Put down your phone, go to your sparkling clean kitchen and make yourself a hot beverage. Then sit down and put your feet up so your brilliant children can give you a foot rub. You deserve to celebrate your elusive-to-every-other-homeschool-parent-on-the-planet accomplishment.
If, however, you or someone you know resonates with my struggle to balance the teaching with the running around and living life, stick with me for a few. Hopefully you’ll leave encouraged.
As homeschool parents, we spend hours planning, imagining, and preparing our school year. Our glorious summer break comes to a close, fall semester begins, and we implement our perfectly crafted daily schedule. But a few days later… Dentist appointments. Playdates. Preparing for a garage sale. Co-op. Dance class. Ninja class. Day trips to visit out-of-town relatives.
All wonderful things, to be sure! But all things that disrupt the daily flow, am I right?
(Let me interrupt myself for a second to say this. Many of us need to say “no” more often. We need to prayerfully reduce the number of activities on our calendars and set healthier boundaries for our days. This problem of over-scheduling is real, but it’s not what I’m talking about today. Today I’m talking about balancing what’s left in our lives when we’re already being deliberate with our “yes’s.”)
So far, it’s one of those years when I tell myself, “I’ll get into a rhythm next week, after…” And then next week inevitably comes along with the same mantra.
I have a few choices at this point. I can:
1. Cancel all outside obligations in order to have a perfect rhythm to our school days.
2. Do school well into the evening on our busy days, no doubt leaving the kids grumpy and their mom (ahem) grumpier.
3. Embrace the freedom homeschooling allows, utilizing our intended school schedule as much as we can, prioritizing math and language on our busy days, and emphasizing life learning in between.
I choose sanity. I choose option three.
If you’re smothering yourself with guilt because your six-year-old hasn’t done science all week as you’ve been potty-training your toddler, let me be blunt: It’s going to be okay. Chances are, your kiddo watched a PBS show that taught him all about lightening bugs and now he knows more than you ever know about them. He may even be throwing around the word “bioluminescence” like a pro, while you’re busting out your smartphone to google it. (This example may or may not be based on a true story. Also, thank you Wild Kratts.)
My point is this. Children, especially in the grade school years, are always learning. They pick things up and remember them like nobody’s business. Which makes your job so much easier. Live life, have conversations about what you see and do along the way. Talk about caring for others, teach them to show empathy, teach them the importance of hard work and the value and blessing of learning.
Go to that dentist appointment without guilt. Discuss what you see, what the dentist is doing, and why. Discuss the plight of the homeless man on the street corner and our role in helping spread the love of Jesus to others. Go to the library and read a book about teeth. But don’t feel guilty if you don’t!
Book learning is important, and I’m not at all advocating dropping it; I’m simply suggesting we need not tie ourselves and our definitions of a successful homeschool year to how many chapters we’ve covered or if we made it through the entire book by the end of May. Give yourself some grace to move a bit more freely with your days. Trust me, your children will thank you because you’ll be less stressed overall and they won’t be doing math drills at bedtime.
Structure is a good thing, and it’s important for children to know what to expect, so a changing weekly calendar that helps them know what to expect from their days may help when your weekly activities vary. Consistency is great, but the ability to roll with the flow is necessary too.
This past Saturday we had a garage sale/bake sale, which was my 11-year-old daughter’s idea to raise money for a worthy charity. (How do you say no to that?!) The week leading up to it was full of sorting, pricing, and baking. During that entire week my children formally did math four days, science three, language arts twice, and then we had lots of life lessons on organizing an event, baking, and money handling. I call it a successful week.
Give yourself the freedom to call messy weeks a success. Accept the grace God is offering you and be released from the guilt of not having perfect-looking weeks. I’m beginning to think those are a myth anyway…sort of like the Supermom I referenced above.
Dear Lord, I pray you would bless this dear reader with a calm, peaceful heart. Reassure her/him when they feel inadequate, and help them embrace and make the most of messy-looking weeks. When patience is thin and emotions are high, I pray for wisdom and the strength to lead their children well. Thank you for the opportunity to teach our children at home. Give us eyes to see our children as you see them, and may we be a blessing in their lives, leading them ever closer to you. Amen.
Note: If you or a parent you know is stretched thin and you want to prioritize your grade-schooler’s spiritual development, but just don’t have the brain space, I encourage you to check out my novel, Power Up. You can simply hand it to your child and let it lighten your load by giving your child real spiritual truths to think about while it entertains!