Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Start of a New School Year

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!


Candice said...

Amen, Sister!

Anonymous said...

Great post. There is always that temptation to get carried away. I'm trying to keep all of our sports stuff confined to a recreation center that is only a mile and a half away. There aren't any "away" games so it saves time and money.


Ann at eightacresofeden said...

I really have come to appreciate that you cannot homeschool if you are never home. Even just one sport per child during the week plus all the music lessons and homeschool support groups/field trips can add up to one frantic life! I feel so strongly about this I wrote a post about this some time ago that I entitled 'Why I'm not a Soccer Mum' - for the pressure is not just on the children to participate in sports but also on the parents with much of that responsibility falling onto the mother's shoulders - not only the driving to and fro but to be on the sideline (having to listen to foul language from both players and parents!) preparing team snacks and the washing of team jerseys for instance - I know I have been there!
It is also the scheduling of sports/activities which can interfere with family life - most are after school hours at the time when we should be preparing and sitting down to dinner.
I love and endorse the advice you gave to think outside the square. We swapped gymnastics for our backyard when I realized much of the equipment I was paying money for the children to use at the gymnasium was right here in my own backyard - fallen logs became our balance beams. We call it God's gymnasium!
I'm not opposed to formal tuition for sports but wanted to find something that fitted our family and reflected our values. We found a sport which all my children could participate in on the same day at the same time - an all age integrated ice skating school on Saturday mornings. The youngest skaters are 4 (my twins)and at one stage a couple in their 70's were learning to skate. Some of the mums and dads have also joined the class. So brave of them! We get a group discount for providing 5 members of the class and having stuck with this rather than being tempted to try out other sports the children have become very proficient. There are no competitions to attend but badges are awarded for the different stages following individual tests.
So don't be afraid to ditch the team sports/mainstream sports that your country worships - there are other worthy alternatives out there.

The Smith Family said...

Really good reminder! This is our first year homeschooling, and I appreciate any tips veterans can pass my way. :)

Harley Mom said...

What a great reminder that as Mom's our main responsibility is our home and all who dwell in it! I sometimes feel overwhelmed with just getting homework accomplished and at this time couldn't fathom adding even one sport to my four kids lives. Thank you for being a continual reminder that God always wants what best for us!


Amy© said...

This is exactly the way I feel! I made the mistake of letting our family get very "overscheduled" and have scaled WAY back.

Jamie (@va_grown) said...

This is something we've struggled with. We don't homeschool, and I have to work outside the home right now as well. So we participate in church activities (fellowships, sunday school and wed. bible club) and family activities with extended family, but our kids don't play any sports, do girl scouts/boy scouts, dance, gymnastics, etc. right now. Our home time is sacred family time. Period. We do things like picnics, zoo trips, museums, etc. Together stuff, not individual stuff.

They are 7, 4, and 3 and we get questioned A LOT about why we "don't let them do anything." Someone even told us if we didn't start them in sports soon it would be too late for them to be any good compared to other kids their ages. Seriously?!!

I go back and forth about feeling guilty that they are "suffering" because I won't let them do more stuff for themselves because I don't want to be any busier. But my heart (and my prayer time!) tells me that family time/fellowship is the most important thing they could be doing right now.

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