I would not refer to myself as an expert on any topic, a guru at anything, nor a master of a trade. But I can refer to myself as one who has *almost* completed her work as a homeschooler. I am nearing the end of this road; I have been running my race for over two decades and soon this will all be in the past tense... I'm not an expert, but I am seasoned in this lifestyle. Here are a few of the things I have learned over the years.
# 1 ~ Small Children = Short Increments
Homeschooling is both a coordinated dance and a balancing act - at the exact same time. If you have babies or toddlers, or a broad span of grades you are teaching, then you absolutely must plan out your time in short, manageable increments. This takes a lot of thoughtful planning and work on the front end of each week, but it pays off in spades (more on that in tip # 3). For example, plan on a 30-minute time span when your toddler can watch a DVD in the other room while you work on math with your 4th grader. Another example would be to organize your children's school work - as in, lay out and clearly assign what they work on at what time during the day. Then you can administer a spelling test while your other kiddos read their literature assignment or review multiplication flashcards. This tip only works if you plan out your day and each of your children's school days simultaneously, and then stick with the plan. If you adhere to this tip, it will pay big dividends. I promise.
# 2 ~ Hard Work = Home Days
This hint is pretty straight forward: on the days you have activities outside the house, you should plan lighter school work. The days you are home all day need to be the days you accomplish the most in the hardest subjects. It's really that simple, but if you are spontaneous and don't plan out the week's work, then the hard stuff probably gets away from you from time to time. Make this part of your planning each week, stick to it, and see the results.
# 3 ~ Weekly Planning = Week's Ending
Take the time each weekend (and I do mean each and every weekend!) to plan out the upcoming week's school work. Take into consideration every activity you and your children will be participating in, and don't forget to leave time for things like doctor's appointments, trips to the library, and picking up groceries. Plan each day out carefully for you and your children, and plan out each subject for each child as well. Do this with care and exercise wisdom - the end result of all your years of homeschooling lies right here! The end of each week piles up with the ending of every other week, and one day it's all piled up into a heap of years; then the kid you raised is the adult that the world, the church, and the Lord will get. Plan out the days, sometimes in 15-minute increments, so that the work that needs to get done actually gets done. Do the hard work of planning each week, mom....now, you didn't really think this whole homeschool thing was going to be easy, did you?!?
# 4 ~ Start on Time = End on Time
Get yourself up and moving (and spend time with the Lord first and foremost) and then get started on your homeschool day. Have a set starting time and adhere to it. Don't make excuses, either! Now of course there will be days when the stomach flu kept you and your brood up most of the night - and that would be a great time to take a sick day. But don't let "sick days'" or "down days" be the norm. Hold them at bay! They are the enemy! Start on time, and then end on time. Make that transition from teacher to mom and by the time you sit down to dinner, school should not be the primary focus of your thoughts. Be a mom during those evening hours, and be a teacher during those daytime hours.
# 5 ~ Peace = Peace
Ladies, please learn how to be at peace with yourself during these long years of homeschooling. It's a unique calling, and it's hard. But it's also so very, very good! Give yourself permission to receive the Lord's grace and decide that you will be at peace with yourself, with your children, with your home (roomy or cramped) and the state of your home (tidy or a complete wreck). We are not called to sprint with the Lord, but to walk with Him. Keep yourself under His light yoke, and live in His peace. If you make peace with yourself in this way, you will be a far better homeschooling mother. *AHEM* ... ask me how I know this to be true...
May God bless you as you raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He is good! And He will most certainly finish the work He began in you when He called you to be a mother who homeschools.
Day 348 done :)
Jan L. Burt