School has started around here at the Fuentes home and last week we had a great back to school party full of treasure hunts, bowling and tennis with our family and checking out our fresh new supplies and books. Visions of science experiments, unit studies, and hands on projects are all dancing around in my head so I am trying to careful to jot everything down so I don't forget a single one!
One of the things that I know that is a challenge for homeschoolers since we have such flexibility is overloading our schedule with things that have us frantically running here and there. Lessons, sports, clubs, activities, events and the like can keep us all living in our automobiles from one event to another without really experiencing much needed down time at home.
We need to choose wisely what things our family participates in and not overload our schedules. All those things can look and sound good and we sign up for them with zeal but we can sacrifice what is best in its place and end up with a frazzled mother at the end of her rope, especially if she has several children she is trying to taxi around. Many mothers have trouble just concentrating on school let alone trying to fit several more things onto her plate, other mothers prioritize their outings more than schooling and then become alarmed when they begin to fall drastically behind. While I believe it is wonderful to have freedom in our homeschooling, I believe it is also the parents responsibility to make sure the job gets done.
Consider this, what if a family chose NOT break up their family, especially when Dad was home and instead chose to do things together? Instead of Billy running out to chess club to play against a few strangers why not have him play against Dad or Grandpa? What if instead of choir, you sang Christian songs/hymns as a family as a ministry to a nursing home? I actually know families that do this. They value their time together and do not feel pressure to conform to what everyone else is doing. Take sports for instance. If they have a couple of sons they don't drag them all to different practice locations and games all through the week. Instead they will opt to choose a sport as a family like tennis, volleyball, swimming or rollerskating that they can do together. When they want to play competitively as teams they invite other families over to play against their family. The Duggar family, who have 19 children, is a wonderful example of this. I believe we need to try to think more outside 'the box' and know that doing more is not always best. Don't get me wrong now, I am not saying to not join anything, but what we do choose we need to choose wisely.
Of course there will be things you participate in, just like my family does, but use discernment and choose sparingly because it can all add up too quickly. I have a friend who guards her family time fiercely and there is wonderful fruit from it. Are they confined to the home? Hardly! They are always busy, interacting with many people--Christians and non-Christians--but actively doing things together as a family. Think of all the glorious memories they are making! Think of all the wonderful training and shepherding time that will take place! What I often think is most needed is time to cultivate and nurture family time and relationships without the emphasis of always 'being out and going somewhere', which can sometimes breed discontentment. We think that those things are so fulfilling but can really often lead us to feeling exhausted and empty in the end.
Families today hardly have time to eat together let alone hold a conversation of depth, and when Dad comes home from work they barely have time to welcome him as they rush past him out the door. Because we see this as a trend in families today we should not feel pressured to emulate it. Instead we should do what we can to guard it against it and preserve the best for our families. The state of families today are desperate for change and strengthening and we would be good to use our time together wisely.
May the Lord give us all wisdom as we fill our schedules with good things and embark upon a blessed new school year!