Keeping Balance in Homeschooling

From Our House to Yours

Keeping Balance in Homeschooling

We all recognize keeping balance in life is just a good way to try to be healthy. Things taken to the extreme are apt to become unhealthy over time. Just because you love chocolate, that doesn’t mean you can eat it throughout the entire day. Or, just because you love that show on Netflix, that doesn’t mean you can watch it most the day. Or, just because you love to drink coffee – ooh, this one is tough for me – that doesn’t mean you can drink it all day. (Noon. That has to be my cutoff, or I won’t sleep a wink!) Well, homeschooling is the same way. When something is out of balance and taken to the extreme, it can become unhealthy – even if it was initially a good thing!  Keeping balance in homeschooling keeps your homeschooling ‘healthy!’ Let’s see how!

Balance in Subjects

I once received a phone call from a mom who was using Saxon math with her four children. She said she needed help picking a new math program. When I asked what she didn’t like about Saxon, she told me she loved it! Really loved it! In fact, she was having a hard time giving it up. However, she said she was teaching 4 different Saxon math levels. Each lesson was taking her over an hour, and that was with skipping some things and only doing the odds and evens. She said she’d told her husband that if she didn’t make a change, her children were only going to remember her as the math teacher. All she did was teach math! There was no time for anything else. Maintaining balance in subjects, for both mom and children, is important. Keeping balance in subjects keeps your homeschooling ‘healthy!’

Balance in Time

I once talked with a mom whose daughter loved drawing. Any history project, science lab form, poetry assignment, timeline entry, geography map, or independent history activity that involved drawing was d-r-a-w-n out. In fact, her daughter drew out these assignments so much that she didn’t have time for grammar, math, and dictation. Furthermore, her homeschool day was incredibly d-r-a-w-n out too. She often schooled from morning to evening, yet still was unable to complete all her school subjects. Though both daughter and mother loved the beautiful drawings, both were weary and irritable at the end of most days. At the end of our conversation, they’d made a plan they were both excited to try! They simply scheduled an extra 45 minutes of ‘creative drawing time’ in the school day. During this time, daughter could d-r-a-w out any part of her HOD day’s work that inspired her. Balance in time was restored, and everyone was happier!

Balance in the Day

A few years ago I spoke with a homeschool mom in tears who told me she’d made a mess of things. When I asked what had happened, she said she’d let her daughter just pick whatever she felt like doing in the guide. At first it was great! Her daughter loved history, so she forged ahead in the Reading About History and Storytime. She also loved the Nature Journal. Even though this was planned 2 days a week, she’d done it every day. She loved the Hymn Study part of the Bible Quiet Time and had memorized almost half of them already. The President Study was another favorite. History projects were fun at the start, but harder to finish. Science experiments were hit and miss. Math and dictation were not favorites. The mom had sticky note bookmarks all over her Heart of Dakota guide. It was a mess!

Fixing the Mess 

Well, blessedly her daughter was only about 8 weeks into her homeschool year. Together we made a plan for her daughter each day to do two days’ worth of lessons of her most behind subjects, one day’s worth of her lesser behind subjects, and none of her far ahead subjects. She would do school for the same amount of hours they’d planned until all the sticky notes caught up to the farthest ahead one (which was Reading About History and Storytime). I told her to call me when all her sticky notes ‘met!’ She called me in about a month. Both daughter and mother were ecstatic! They were thrilled to be doing a day of plans within a day. Balance turned out to be more fun than they thought it would be!

I recently talked with this same mom. She asked me if I remembered helping her out of her ‘sticky note mess.’ I did, and I asked her how things were going. She laughed and said, “Well, we only need ONE sticky note for our daily plans now. And trust me, we will never go back to that mess again!”

So, every once and awhile, do a mental check! Is there balance in your homeschooling? In your subjects, your time, your day? If not, try restoring balance, and see if your homeschooling feels ‘healthier!’ Finding balance is worth it.

In Christ,

Julie

Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life!

From Our House to Yours

Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life!

Are you busy? I can relate. Homeschool moms are some of the busiest people I know. I talk on the Heart of Dakota phone lines with moms whose lives are jam-packed. Emails arrive from moms who are pushing themselves to the max. Posts on FB, on blogs, and on our message board show homeschool moms are busier than ever. When someone asks how our day, our week, our month, or our year is going, we often say, “Busy!” But, what are we busy about?

I began to ask myself this question 6 1/2 years ago when my Dad died of pancreatic cancer. We are only promised today, so asking ourselves from time to time what we are busy about is a pretty important question to ask. So, if you summed up your day, your week, your month, your year for me, what are you busy doing? We women are born to be multi-taskers, but from one homeschool mom to another, be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life.

Love your year, but love your days too!

Not too long ago, I was sitting outside in our backyard at our patio table. I’d made my school calendar of the days we’ll be homeschooling this year, and I was really happy with it! I’d chosen my start date as Tuesday, September 1, with Friday of that week and Monday (Labor Day) taken off for vacation. I’ve found doing school three days a week at the start is perfect for us! We can try out our schedule, make any needed adjustments, and gather anything we missed gathering.

My calendar was just right. I loved my start and end dates. We had just the right days marked off for vacation, for birthdays, for holidays, and just for fun. I’d planned for sick days and for end-of-the-year testing days. From this past homeschool year, I could tell I would love this calendar! The year was going to be great! So, why was I worried? Well, it had nothing to do with the year; it was the ‘days’ I was worried about.

Some Wise Advice from My Son

My son noticed me looking stressed; every mother deserves a son like Riley. He can talk me off the ledge. He popped out to the patio table and pulled up a chair. What’s wrong, Mom? he asked. I explained I REALLY wanted to spend a lot of time with him this year because it was his senior year. He told me we spend nearly all of our time together. I tried to explain I wanted to spend LOTS of time homeschooling him though. How much time, Mom? he asked. Let’s just say my answer scared him, especially when I told how much time I thought I should also spend with both of his brothers. That’s crazy busy, Mom. It was. Riley told me that part of the reason we love our life is because homeschooling gives us the kind of life we love. A slower pace. A less busy pace. He said I deserved that too. Hmm, pretty wise advice. Thank you, son!

Mapping Out Our Days to Be Less Busy

Six and half years ago when my Dad died I made a lot of changes. I cut things out of my life that were busy but not worth the busy-ness. My years became less busy, and I began to love my life more and more. However, the days ARE busy as homeschool moms. There is no daily plan that will totally take away the ‘busy.’ It is the stage we are in, and it goes on for awhile. It’s best to recognize that. We are ‘busy’ because we have important work to do; however, we need not push ourselves to the point of exhaustion or depression. Riley helped me see that. Together, we worked at mapping out our days to be less busy. I made time for God, time to walk, time to make breakfast, time to teach, and time to work. Ideally, I’d have given more time to all of these things, but that would have made me “crazy busy,” as Riley puts it. And “crazy busy” is never a good thing.

What are you busy about?

So, now I ask you, what are you busy about? Are you ‘crazy busy’? Don’t be. You don’t have to be and that is no way to love your days! It is no way to love your life. Start with the easy things. What is not worth the busy-ness? Stop doing those things. I don’t keep a garden anymore. I’m not good at it, and I don’t really enjoy it. I don’t have rummage sales anymore. We live in the country, and no one comes. I don’t plant flowers anymore. Hanging flower pots do me just fine. I don’t make lunch anymore. Breakfast and supper I knock out of the park! But lunch? Riley makes that – it’s easy, it’s fast, and he likes it. Thank you, son. I don’t check my FB, email, or Instagram incessantly. Just here and there when I have time – that is enough.

I am busy about my teaching. Homeschooling well is important to me, but I don’t expect perfection – from me or my children. I am busy talking to my Mom and my sisters. They are my best friends; they are worth my time. I am busy dating my husband. He is my best friend too, and I love him. I am busy exercising, but I don’t always drive to exercise at the gym. My country road is a pretty place to exercise too. I am busy spending time with God each morning, but I don’t time myself as if an exact time is what He desires. So, what are you busy about? Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life. It goes fast. If you are ‘crazy busy,’ look in the mirror for the person making you so – and make some changes! Loving your life is worth it.

In Christ,

Julie