Why You Really Are Doing Enough...
Why is it that the question "Am I doing enough?" is one that haunts just about every homeschooling mother? Perhaps it's because many of us are trying to emulate the classroom education from which we came. At least I was. In fact, just prior to beginning my first year of homeschooling, I remember a seasoned Homeschooling mother saying to me "You know, homeschooling doesn't mean just putting a classroom in your home." I flippantly brushed that comment aside and plunged head first into workbooks, schoolroom desks and everything "classroom oriented" I could get my hands on. I know...you're laughing, right? Well, try as I may, I just couldn't reproduce the same classroom education I had been given. I began to feel like I was a slave to the lesson plans, curriculum texts and, yes, I did actually wake up in the middle of the night panicked that we had missed a math lesson. I knew homeschooling was supposed to bring us some sort of freedom so, what was I doing wrong?
What I didn't know was that Homeschooling was a different entity all together. It begins by creating an environment where our children love to learn and allowing them the freedom to study the things that they enjoy. Yes, even if that's not what we had planned or what we would have chosen. (Within reason, of course, there are days when my son would "study" legos all day if I would let him!) Ask your children what their interests are and then help them find books and materials to learn more. I have a daughter who loves anything to do with early America. So, last year she spent the entire year reading through the "Little House on the Prairie" Series and learning about early American history. The result? I saw her thrive and grow in ways I couldn't have imagined. Remember, you run the lessons, they don't run you. You determine what is on the agenda for the day, not the teacher manuals. Of course, they serve as a very useful tool, however, if you're sensing that your bunch is becoming worn out, tired or just plain overwhelmed, it may be time to close up the planner and head to the beach.
Record what everyone has accomplished by the end of the day. You will be surprised how much learning is happening even if it doesn't occur in the traditional sense. Just this afternoon my son asked if I had some chores he could do for money. I did and I suggested that he look at the areas where I needed work done and bid the job. If the job seemed too large he was allowed to to include a sister and offer her a percentage of his earnings (He opted out of that option hoping for a larger profit :). What resulted was a great lesson in finances, work ethic and negotiation.
Did you read together? Did you "catch" the older ones teaching the littles something new? Did you have a talk with your high-schooler about some current event? Did you find some new creepy crawlies in your garden, catch them in a jar and let everyone get a chance to study them? All of these are moments of teaching and learning and, see, you didn't even crack open a textbook ;) What freedom!
So as you're gearing up for January, and the spring to follow, don't forget why you're doing what you're doing. Don't lose your vision. Remember homeschooling is meant to be freeing to you and your children. If it feels burdensome, stop and ask the Lord why that is and what needs to change. As always, He is faithful to help and to teach as we enter in daily to disciple His lambs.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." Psalm 32:8