Written by Amida of journey into unschooling.
Homeschooling should be a piece of cake. Spend time with the kids. Surround yourself with books and educational materials. Go places. Learn together, every day, 24/7.
But sometimes, let’s face it — filling in all those hours is a drag.
Kids have the uncanny ability to drive you nuts, the laundry never seems to end, and the house is never clean enough. Add to that the pick-up and drop-off schedules of every person in the family, the inadequate food supply (because teenagers eat everything), and the never appropriate question of what’s for dinner (just stop asking and eat).
And oh yeah, you are totally responsible for educating them at some point in the day. No pressure.
I find that the hardest part of homeschooling is the expectations, real or otherwise. In addition to all the other household responsibilities, I feel I always have to be in learning mode, especially when someone directly asks me “what did you do for school today?”
The truth is, we don’t “do school” every day and I rarely have a plan that I actually follow for more than a week.
At this very moment, I have one kid whining about being bored and nibbling on my arm, while the other is flipping through a comic book.
Sure, it’s summer, but still. This happens on more occasions that I care to let on during the school year.
When I’m in a slump, this kind of thinking gets me deeper and deeper into the abyss of failed homeschooler and I sometimes counter with big plans of intense/awesome/creative/above-grade-level work.
Of course, that never lasts long. I eventually come to my senses and realize that kind of structure doesn’t work for us. Homeschool is just going to happen when it happens, and that is fine.
But for the days I really do want to get school logged in, but would rather not spend too much time prepping, I’ve got a couple of tried and true tricks that I know I can fall back on:
Photo by Maya83
Go back to basics
The 3Rs — Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic — are fundamental to any school experience. If I can’t figure out what to cover for history or science, I know we can always make reading a priority.
You can touch upon just about any subject through storytime. One of my favorite ways of sneaking in more stories is through audiobooks. All that time spent driving in a car is totally educational. In this way, we’ve discovered so many fantastic stories and series which I never would have gotten around to otherwise.
Writing is my other go-to assignment. “Read about [insert subject] and write about it.” It could be a review, a summary, a poem, journal entry, a letter — anything. I love writing assignments.
Most of our math is covered through reading as well, with the Life of Fred series or assorted math-based story books we find at the library. When even that becomes a drag, I hand over the iPhone, where I’ve installed a handy math fact app so my daughter can practice and quiz herself.
Normally, I’m not a fan of electronics for schoolwork, but sometimes, it’s the best invention ever!
Photo by grace_kat
Break out the art supplies
One of my favorite activities is to cover the huge dining table with butcher paper and doodle the day away. The kids love it (who wouldn’t want to scribble on the table all day?), and it’s fantastic stress relief to just mindlessly doodle words and pictures and squiggles.
I like to add all sorts of markers and crayons to the middle of the table and a few drawing books for inspiration.
Stop overthinking it
The best piece of advice I have to offer you (not to mention my over-stressed self) is this: stop overthinking it.
Some days the house is spotless, some days it’s a tornado zone. Some days, there will be lamb chops for dinner, some days, it’s everything-in-the-fridge salad.
Some days, award-winning poetry will be written; some days, it’s a sad simple sentence.
Some days, homeschooling is a piece of cake. Some days, it’s tough.
It happens to the best of us. It happens to all of us.
And I guess that is the best thing to remember the next time we feel the unrealistic pressure to do it all.
When you feel the pressure to do it all, what brings you relief?
This post is part of our Hardest Part of my Homeschool Year series.