One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability of the parent-teacher to weave together life and lessons. For some, creating that integration and balance comes naturally. For others, like myself, it is a constant work in progress.
But many of us, at one time or another, face huge waves of life that overwhelm our lessons.
Maybe it is a cross-country move, extended out-of-town visitors, caring for an elderly parent, home remodeling, early pregnancy nausea and fatigue, the birth of a baby, or an illness in the family.
We can use these waves as opportunities to embrace life (and all of its challenges) as a family and show our children that learning can happen anywhere and under any circumstances.
Don’t be afraid to let your children see and experience the waves of change within the context of a supportive family. I believe this will help develop their coping and problem-solving skills, give them a healthy understanding that life is not one long stretch of straight highway, and build strong family relationships.
There are several ways of shifting the balance to reflect our educational priorities, even when life seems to be up to our chins.
1. Choose your essentials.
Is it math with which your child struggles? Is it history on which your son thrives? Is it the fresh air, play, and discovery time that keeps your family sane? Evaluate the circumstances, choose a manageable number of essentials (it may be one or five), and make them your priority.
2. Be willing to let go.
Of overwhelming commitments. Of extra-curriculars. Of expectations. Not an essential? Let it go if the water is closing in over your head.
Photo by Heidi Scovel
3. Be flexible.
Change your routine. Try lessons in the evening or in the car.
Change your location. Is your house a natural disaster zone? Go on a drive and listen to educational CDs. Do lessons at the library.
Change your lesson materials or approach. Maybe it’s time for science programs on DVD. Listen to your history lessons on CD. Do you have a teacher-intensive spelling curriculum? Workbooks might be a short-term novelty.
Does your child read independently? It’s time to fill the house (or car) with fascinating books about various subjects and let your children feast on their own.
4. Eat a frog.
Tackle your most difficult task (or your highest priority) first thing in the morning. Tsh has a great explanation on this over at Simple Mom.
5. Discover the lesson in the moment.
Often, you’ll find that life is the lesson. Wherever you are ask questions, introduce discussions, and model curiosity. Experience cements facts and ideas in ways no book can duplicate.
6. Enlist some help.
Asking for help is hard. I know. But often, people around you are just waiting to be asked. Waiting to be involved and show that they care. Let them.
Photo by Heidi Scovel
7. Take care of yourself.
Try to eat well. Get as much sleep as the situation allows. Exercise or at least stretch and breathe deeply for a few minutes every day. Make time to be alone and recharge, even if it is a simple hot bath after the kids are in bed.
Waiting at a doctor’s office? Read a book that entertains or inspires you.
8. Have some fun.
Pack school bags with books and a snack; have a picnic at the park. Visit a museum. Put on some energetic music and dance like crazy or sing in the car at the top of your lungs.
Have your children teach their lessons to their stuffed animals or act out the book they read.
Photo by Heidi Scovel
9. Keep household tasks simple.
Need to get some fresh fruits and veggies into the kids, and fast? Make smoothies. Add a piece of whole-grain toast, and I call that dinner. Remember, the slow-cooker is your friend. Make extra soup and freeze some for later.
Don’t hold out for perfection. Give your young children a soapy rag and let them mop the floor. Make household tasks a family project.
10. Keep your perspective.
Life’s seasons come and go. Hug your children. Tell them you love them. Take a deep breath. And face adventures and challenges together.
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else. ~Emily Dickinson
When life begins to overwhelm lessons, what strategies have you successfully used to prioritize education?
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