15 math lessons. 13 reading lessons. I can hardly believe it. We’re almost done! If we go with the sports language, I have almost completed my rookie season of homeschooling. Rookie year is a wild ride folks. At least it has been for me. In September of last year, I sat down one Monday morning with my little people at our awesome little desks in the corner of our living room, with some pretty awesome plans for our year. I was gonna rock this. We did some preschool, and I mean, all my sisters homeschool, so it’s not like I haven’t seen it done. Piece of cake, right? Ha! Just like almost every other area of being a momma, this new role of mine has brought me to my knees an awful lot this year.
I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I’m looking forward to next year even more and the chance to put to use a few of the things I’ve learned along the way this year.
- Have a plan. ~ We have had good school weeks, and we have had rough school weeks. I would say 80% of our rough school weeks start out as my fault. You know the ones. The weeks when it’s Tuesday afternoon and those books you needed to pick up from the library so you could do science this week are still sitting on their hold shelf, and tomorrow is a full day already, so it’s not looking hopeful! (Or maybe you don’t, in which case you should be the one writing this post!) The weeks when I am ill prepared to teach these little people of mine are fertile ground for feelings of condemnation and failure, frustration with myself, and poor behavior from my children as I’m trying last minute to print worksheets or find that game I told them we would play. It’s also the prime time for my printer to decide it hates me, which only escalates my frustration. (Just ask my husband.) Having papers printed, supplies purchased, and at least a loose plan for the week written down is, for me, most certainly the wise way to approach our school.
- Be willing to flex from the plan. ~ Then there is the other side of the coin. A plan is just that, a plan. It’s been easy for me to write off the school day when somebody wakes up with a tummy bug for the 5th time, or when the baby has pneumonia for the 3rd time, or when Mommy was at the hospital until 3am with a friend having surgery. (Yes, all these and more have happened in our house this year – craziness.) But what about when you’re halfway through math, and the tensions are rising, or when somebody is misbehaving and being disrespectful during reading? These situations don’t feel quite as “easy” to put down the school books and really address the heart problems. Theirs and MINE. Oh, mine, sweet goodness. At the end of the day, will He be more glorified if I have allowed disobedience or have trampled on my 6 year old’s heart for the sake of completing a math lesson on time? I firmly believe that answer is a NO. This is one of the primary reasons I am homeschooling. To be available and present to address all these heart issues when they happen. Sometimes that means that lessons are completed later, after heart issues are worked out. Sometimes it means that schoolbooks are shelved until the next day, and we go to the park together to play and love our way back to each other.
- Learn about THEM. ~ One evening a few months ago, my daughter was “quizzing” her older brother on some math questions. At one point, there was a question he didn’t get right away. I looked over as he covered his eyes with his hands for a bit, then his eyes popped open and with no doubt at all, he yelled the right answer to her. When I asked him what he was doing with his eyes covered, he told me “Well when I close my eyes I can see my number line, so then I do it just like I do in my book.” Well ok then! Apparently I have a visual learner on my hands. This has been helpful as our year has continued, and I can help him use this to his advantage. I’m so grateful I caught that happening, and have been able to adjust my teaching to this part of my little man.
- It’s OK, and GOOD to say NO! ~ This one is fairly simple! I am not good at saying no. There have been a number of playdates, appointments, requests for help from friends, and other things that have at times interfered with our school days. Sometimes, this is just fine! This is an advantage of homeschooling after all. We’re allowed to have a playdate at 10am when we want to! It’s awesome. But there have been other times when I know I should be saying no, but it just doesn’t feel like doing school is a “good enough” reason to do so! This is just not true. “We have to do school at that time” is a perfectly good reason to not be available! I have a responsibility to my children to teach them, and that is one of my primary roles right now. I am doing them a disservice if I frequently make the needs of others higher than the needs of my children. Thankfully there is no right or wrong for these scenarios, just the need to have wisdom and to walk confidently in what I know is best for our family.
- I can’t do this. ~ Wait, what? You read correctly. I can’t. There is no way this momma can homeschool well, cook well, clean, parent the toddler and preschooler, be a friend, go to work, and do all the other things required of me. Not in my own strength. There is nothing in ME that is good enough to do all these things. Thankfully, I don’t have to be good enough! Because God has given me all that I need in Himself to be the mom, teacher, wife, employee and friend that He has called me to be. Thank goodness for this. On our hardest days, this is what I cling to. Because when I think I am enough, it goes downhill fairly quickly. Being well aware of my weaknesses is what allows me to be well aware of HIS strength.
What about you? Are you a new homeschooler? What are a few things you’ve learned along the way?