I had some company over yesterday and we were all sharing how it has been especially challenging to get anchored in our school year this year. The year is moving quickly by and getting into a solid rhythm like we had in the past can escape us at times--just due to the activities of every day life. Now, with the holidays around the corner, I shared with them that I expected November and December to be a nice blur... and then when January would arrive we can really 'buckle down'.
Now I would have never thought this as a brand new homeschooler. I would have obediently abided by my premade schedule----do or die! We would do exactly what was scheduled that day and if it was not done, then stress, anxiety and guilt would haunt me. Can anybody relate?
Now that I have a few years under my belt and a senior that will graduate soon, I have learned a few things.
1. Don't stress about lost days or time. You can easily make up time that was lost because you have the advantage of one-on-one private tutoring. People pay others big money for this service and learning can happen in a third of the time through private tutoring than in a public school environment. Last year I was ill for several months and my children were able to enter this year just fine. Also, stressing out does not help your children, your school environment or cultivate in your children to desire to homeschool their children one day.
2. There will just be some months that are just plain busy (especially December) so plan accordingly. I know some homeschoolers who take the entire month off and get right back on track afterwards. Are their children damaged for life? Hardly--they use the entire month to do exciting, and oftentimes hands-on educational activities to spice up their schooling and don't feel a tad bit guilty as they know that the winter months ahead will not allow for the same kind of fun or opportunities or service. Look for creative opportunities of education that fit the occasion--can your child write a Christmas newsletter for the entire family? This could count for creative writing, language arts, and computer. Think outside the box!
3. It's okay to pitch the schedule--don't let your schedule control you. Sometimes I am leery about writing too many details into our school planner because I don't know just what will lie ahead for the week and would feel stressed or like a failure if I did not follow those plans. So now I like to 'loosely' schedule. Loose scheduling gives me freedom to move things to next week or month if I can get to it that day. If surprises come up, I am assured that it is not something that will be the demise of my homeschool (and this is advice coming from a notorious list-maker!) There have been times when I did not do what I had put on the list and followed the Lord's leading instead and it made for a delightful and victorious school week--way better than one I could have ever planned.
4. Remember that life is a process of learning. We won't be able to teach them everything in a year or even 12 years---but we can give them tools to learn and equip them for a lifetime of learning. We need to nurture their natural desire to learn and not have them (or us) burn-out doing thousands of pages of work book problems because some curriculum designer has dictated that to us.
Now this post is not to encourage a mother to be lazy and to neglect her children's homeschooling. I am not condoning that at all. If you have been doing that you need to be disciplined and get to the business of educating your little ones--there is no excuse for that. But oftentimes mothers put such a heavy load on themselves (and sometimes their children) and burden themselves with unrealistic expectations that no human being could possibly meet the standard.
We need to be wise about scheduling what we can handle and what is realistically possible and have the Lord guide our steps.
Have a blessed school week as you plan ahead for the holidays!