“Did you do your Math today?”
“Not yet mom, I got this!”
“How about your essay on Henry V?”
“Not a problem, will get it to you!”
“When will you get it to me. I said I wanted it done last week. Don’t you remember?”
“Yeah! But remember we went to that First Friday Mass and we stayed late and you sat around and talked with the other moms and we didn’t get home until dinner time? How could I have done anything.”
“Yes, but you still had the weekend, right?”
“The weekend? Mom, I really had no time with all the Saturday stuff we do like, cleaning out the mudroom, food shopping, remember I went with you. And my soccer practice I had to go to in the afternoon. I will get it to you. Promise.”
Does this exchange sound somewhat familiar to you?
This is just one of the multitude of “go nowhere, make mom feel overwhelmed” and kid “not getting work done” exchanges heard over the many years at my house.
How about your home?? What do you hear over and over again??
In a recent survey with homeschooling families I did, the number one, biggest challenge for families was, “Having time to do everything.”
In the above conversation I just shared with you, you can easily see how we can get derailed from school with just normal, ordinary, daily family life.
We often assign due dates to our kids that are either unclear, not met and usually look more like a moveable due date.
How do we change this? Is that even possible?
In my early years of homeschooling, I can vividly remember many days daydreaming the “perfect home school day.”
My dream day would begin with me waltzing into the dining room (okay maybe not waltzing, more likely just walking) and handing out lesson plans to each child. It would follow with them dutifully gathering all their books and materials. Of course, they would know exactly where everything was, no hunting around the house for lost books!
Next, they would cheerfully begin with their assignments independently, just pausing to ask questions for clarification. While I sat on the couch and nursed the baby, the older ones would make lunch for their younger siblings.
Without exception my fridge would have a menu plan laid out for the entire month. I would have a boatload of “ready to heat frozen dinners” in my freezer. All the laundry would be caught up, folded and put away!
Never, ever, happened in over 25 years! Why?
None of that was attainable or realistic.
What is the solution?
Let’s just say that we definitely come into homeschooling with a picture in our heads that often little resembles reality. We are filled with a vision that resembles what we are familiar with, that of our own educational experience or those suggested by the things we have read or seen.
Home schooling looks nothing like that.
When we try to be at peace with a mindset wrought with this disconnected vision we become overwhelmed and believe that we are “not enough for our kids, education-wise,” (the second biggest challenge homeschool moms mentioned in my “biggest challenge survey”).
Simple. Let go and stop copying the school model. Get back to your “WHY” you began to homeschool in the first place and your family’s educational goals!
Look hard at the WHY, because when we do, we get clarity and focus. That is home base!
Home schooling looks nothing like the familiar picture we have of school. Why should it? It is such a totally different beast, with totally different interests and purposes. Okay, yes, school and homeschool is about teaching kids the rudiments of learning, such as the “Three R’s” but that’s where the similarity ends, unless you are biding time to plop your kids back in a brick and mortar school.
We home educate to honor the unique, beautiful souls on loan to us.
We desire a simple, joy-filled, faithful life where we let silence in to give room for the voice of God. It is the place of sharing our hearts and getting to know ourselves and our kids and for them to know us!
Let us then begin with clear and attainable goals. Yes, attainable! How often do we overbook, overload our schedule? Do we actually carve out time for derailments? They will happen and are we ready for them when they do happen? How often is our daily schedule for ourselves and our kids unattainable because we have imposed the wrong picture of “school.”
We never have enough time in the day because we are imposing unattainable goals. I am not suggesting that our educational goals are too lofty, quite the contrary.
I believe and know first-hand that they are more than attainable if we truly line up our homeschool goals with our ultimate goals of education, the WHY.
Here’s my story…
I am by nature very goal oriented, and ambitious but I sabotaged myself and my sense of inner peace by using someone else’s vision of education and thus imposing it on me and my family. This vision was attractive at first, in that it aligned with my comfort zone, it suggested a curriculum and schedule that resembled my familiar sense of education with a bit of a twist, promising to give my kids the “tools of learning.” But in just a few years very little of it was centered around my particular family unit. It was still very “school designed.”
Being very goal oriented I tended towards lists and lesson plans to use as a guide. If you check off the assigned tasks, things get done, right?
Yes, they did but at a great cost!
I found I had to tweak those plans more and more each year with each child for the very reason that the overall road map of these plans did not take into account my particular kids strengths and interests.
There was way too much time spent on covering all the regular subjects that are covered in a traditional brick and mortar school. Even though there was a great philosophy behind them, one that infused literature and teaching the “tools of learning” there was no time to do it all, ever!
I totally take ownership of making my homeschool like “school” because I chose this method, I liked the accountability and I wanted to never short change or “ruin” my kid’s education. I lacked confidence in the “grace of Yes” to my marriage and openness to children (which is the subject of an upcoming article).
But then I hit a wall when my fifth child was having trouble learning to read. She did not easily take to “school” and its predesigned grade levels. She needed to blossom in her own time and I knew that deep in my bones, we needed to change.
I had to stretch myself, get uncomfortable and make serious changes.
I finally let go and stopped “schooling.”
Finally our family moved towards that ultimate vision of education my husband and I originally determined for our kids: to feel a sense of success and find their individual gifts and passions, to serve this world with their uniqueness.
We truly embraced our unique family life, busy and particular to the individuals that make up our particular family unit. We scrapped big subjects, we used a combination of different learning and teaching techniques and each and every year it was different.
I found my inner peace.
I asked the kids to take ownership of what they were responsible for each day. If they were little just learning to read and write, I would determine the daily assignments I wanted them to cover because it mainly consisted of getting them ready with the grammar of learning, the Three R’s. But as they got older, past the primary years, around 10-12 years old, I would tailor the overall big picture of education unique to the strengths and passions of each individual child.
The day to day and even the course of study changed and adjusted for the individuals over the ensuing years. More importantly, I let go of trying to be “school.”
It became family learning where we all learned.
We made life count as school. We took off time and we discovered the passions of each kid and let them thrive.
Two years ago marked my last year homeschooling, twenty-five years in the making.
My story is unique to my family. You can, absolutely, without a doubt, make your story unique to your family too!
Please share in the comments below your thoughts and comments on how to “get everything DONE.”
If you want to “virtually sit down with a cup of coffee” with me I just did a webinar talk, titled the 5 keys to Reimagining School, that outlines a process to follow. There is a free workbook to get you started.