Recipe for Disaster, Homeschool-Style
Source: Crookston Times
February 23, 2012
More days than not, I look forward to getting up and starting my day with my family.
This is a stark contrast to the days when I used to have to shoot out of the house at 7:30 am for work, weary and already worried about what the day would bring. When I was teaching, I was always stressed because I felt that I had tons of responsibility but very little control ó that was a recipe for disaster, at least from my perspective.
Homeschooling brings a different set of challenges, to be certain, but one thing is for sure: I have a lot more ability to affect the outcome of our school day. I am not at the mercy of administrative policies, staff attendance, the choices that my studentsí families make, mandatory paperwork, unnecessary interruptions, and the always-ticking clock!
Still, there are occasional days when I could make better choices about our school day, and for whatever reason, I donít. At the end of the day, I reflect on the train-wreck that was ďschool,Ē and I say to myself (because itís typically only myself to blame), ďWhat were you thinking?Ē
More often than not, if Iíve encountered a day full of struggle itís due to one of these six culprits:
1. Not Enough Sleep for the Kids
I donít worry too much about how much my kids sleep because, as a rule, they have a reasonably early bedtime. The trouble is, they donít always cooperate. They may still be awake a couple of hours after theyíve gone to bed.
Evening activities sometimes push-back bedtime. It canít always be helped, and, although one late night might not make too much difference, a couple of nights surely will.
If there are more conflicts than usual, more tears than usual, and more bad attitude than usualÖI start to suspect that they have not gotten enough sleep over the past couple of nights. Often, just repairing this one issue will make a big difference in our school day.
2. Not Enough Sleep for Mom
I am an admitted night owl. This would be fine, but for a variety of reasons, we need to start our school day earlier rather than later.
Undoubtedly, my lack of sleep, especially over the course of the week, spells disaster for our school day. Itís pretty much a guarantee that none of us will enjoy it! So, I Ďm working to change this habit, and consistently waking up earlier, before my kids are out of bed, helps me to feel more organized and optimistic about our day.
3. Not Being Focused on My Kids
One of the benefits of being at home with my kids all day is my ability to take care of household things while the kids are working. There is a fine line, however, between multi-tasking and losing focus.
I have to be wise about what tasks I take on during instruction. It may be just fine to get a loaf of my soaked bread into the oven, do a few dishes, or throw in a load of laundry, but if I get too carried away with a project that requires more of my focus, it doesnít take long for the train to derail.
4. Not Trusting
One of my weaknesses is not trusting myself or my children.
My sons have always been pretty easy to teach. Iím blessed with fairly consistent learners. However, if I try to teach them something that doesnít seem to stick or it seems like they are just not getting ďitĒ (i.e. math), I can become fearful that either Iím never going to be able to teach them or they are never going to get it!
This is ridiculous, of course, but my tendency is to go to the worst case scenario when the actual fact may just be that it will take a bit longer than I anticipated! When I become nervous or fearful about outcomes, I tend to push too hard. This is fruitless. They can feel my nervousness, and it causes them to feel anxious too.
5. Not Being Flexible
One of the reasons we like homeschooling is because it affords a family room to be flexible. If I have over-planned, and Iíve packed the day full, however, there is no room for bumps in the road. Iím learning to leave a little cushion in my days and weeks. There is an ebb and flow; the work will be finished, even if itís not today.
This may be one of my weaknesses, but Iím being stretched, and Iím determined to model something besides inflexibility to my children. They will be happier in life, not to mention their school days, if they can learn how to be flexible with more grace than their mama!
6. Not being Consistent
I donít want to confuse you, but as important as it is for me to be flexible with our school day, it is essential for me to be consistent!
That is to say, we always have a general expectation of what is necessary. Without that bottom line, my boys would be pushing boundaries all the time ó which would really be counterproductive. Every subject and every assignment cannot be a debate! When they know what is expected (generally) of them, they do not question everything and try to make deals with me about what they need to do. That just saps the energy right out of my being.
So what do you find that really spells disaster in your homeschool day?