Welcome back to Catherine from Adventures in Domesticity, who has been a guest writer here at the Classroom previously.
If you are interested in writing a guest article for The Homeschool Classroom, please email Angie with your article idea!
I’ve been out of work for two years now because of my chronic headaches and frequent migraines. During that time, I’ve taken over the homeschooling responsibilities for our children. I’ve learned quite a bit during the last couple of years, so I thought I’d share it with some other homeschooling parents. I have realized that these tips are really appropriate for life, parenting, and homeschooling.
1. Pray, then pray some more, then pray some more. I have found that praying helps to settle me down, keeps me in line with God’s will, and helps me focus on what’s really important.
2. Understand and accept your limitations. This does not mean to wallow in self-pity or lie around moaning and groaning. It does mean, though, to accept that you may not be able to work at the level that you did before.
In my case, I used to work and average of 8 to 10 hours per day seeing patients, working in the hospital and nursing home, and delivering babies. Now, I need more sleep. I need to rest and relax during the day. When I have a bad migraine, I become pretty unproductive. By knowing myself and learning what I can and can’t do, I don’t overschedule me and the kids. This makes us all happier!
3. Adjust expectations. I had always thought that, if I was the stay-at-home homeschooling parent, I would be working hands-on with my kids several hours every day. We would go lots of interesting places and do really cool things. We would work together to keep a wonderfully clean home. In reality, I have had to learn not to expect so much from myself. On a really good day, the kids and I will have a couple of hours reading together or doing an experiment. On other days, I spend an hour or so with each one helping them on core subjects. On bad days, we watch movies and the kids work independently. But, now that I know what to expect, I don’t stress that our current homeschooling doesn’t look like my dream.
4. Set reasonable goals. This probably goes under adjusting expectations, but there are a few other things I have learned about goals in homeschooling. Before we do an activity, I ask if the activity will help us meet our homeschooling goals. I try very hard to avoid busy work and assign things that keep us moving forward. My goals for my kids are end-points of learning. So, a math goal might be to “become proficient with fractions” not to “finish the math workbook.” If one of the kids is going quickly through something, I’ll skip some assignments. If they need more help, then we slow down.
5. Take care of yourself. I have learned this the hard way. It doesn’t do anyone any good for me to do something that will likely trigger a migraine. The whole family is better off if I take my regular breaks and keep our schedule manageable rather than try to go really hard for a few days and then be completely useless for several days when I have a bad migraine.
6. Use technology wisely. My kids use the computer for Spanish and ALEKS Math. I’m considering using an on-line program to help my daughter with her writing. We use some electronic devices for math fact review. DVDs are a big part of science and history for us. We have a Netflix subscription where I get science and history documentaries as well as relevant historical (and other) movies. I recently got a DVR which has been quite helpful, especially since the kids love to learn about cooking from the Food Network. And, did you know that Mythbusters can be science?
7. Limit media. Sounds a little like I’m contradicting myself? Let me explain. We use technology when it helps. Otherwise, I don’t let the kids watch TV or play video games indiscrimately. The rule in our house is that the kids can have an hour of media each day, starting at 4pm. My son’s playtime is spent mostly with Legos, cars, and other toys as well as playing outside. My daughter enjoys cooking, roller blading, and reading. So, there’s a balance. If the kids get too much media, their behavior and attention span get atrocious. But, some media is reasonable.
8. Don’t compare. This can be a real killer. I get to feeling quite inadequate when I go to other people’s homes and see that their houses are perfectly clean and their kids are so involved in zillions of activities. It’s important to remember that God has called me to take care of my children in the best way that I can. So, it’s OK that my house isn’t perfectly clean. It’s OK that my kids are doing the activities that they’re doing. We don’t have to be the “perfect” homeschooling family for my kids to get what’s best for them.
9. Plan, but be flexible. One of the problems with homeschooling while having an illness is that plans seem to go awry regularly. And, I’m a real planner. In a perfect world, I would have a detailed schedule every day that we would follow to the last detail. I used to schedule my study times in college and medical school and loved it. Now, I start the day with a plan and have to change it halfway through because my headache gets bad. Or, I don’t make any plans and I feel great and am left flying by the seat of my pants. The lesson I have learned here is to make overall plans, but be flexible about their implementation. We use Sonlight curriculum which comes with weekly schedules which I can use flexibly. The main thing here is to have an attitude that allows flexibility. It’s OK to not do everything on the piece of paper! Really!
10. Enlist children’s help with housework. We’ve had our kids help around the house since they were little, but I’ve really stepped that up in the last two years. They do most of the bathroom cleaning as well as the straightening up and sweeping. They can both make their own breakfasts and lunches and clean up (although they have to be reminded to clean up – big shock!). I’m teaching them to cook dinner as well. (When I don’t feel well, one of them cooks either a frozen pizza or a Schwan’s meal.)
11. Help children become independent in schoolwork. I have considered using computer curricula for our kids so they don’t really need me to help with schoolwork, but I just am not comfortable with that. I like being flexible. I am, though, moving slowly toward a more unschooling philosophy. The kids know that they have to do math and Spanish and their chores every day. We read our Sonlight subjects together. My son still needs some structure with handwriting and spelling, but my daughter spends her day reading and doing lots of other stuff. She has gotten interested in optics and will spend an hour in her room with her prisms. Other times, one of the kids will want to cook, so they take over the kitchen for a few hours. By relaxing my need for the kids to read in textbooks and write out answers to questions, I have lowered everyone’s stress level without diminishing their educational experiences.
Our life isn’t perfect and I still don’t have the homeschooling thing all figured out, but we’re enjoying the process. I hope this helps you on your journey.
About Today’s Guest Author:
I am a 41 year old mom to Lydia, age 13, and Christopher, age 10. Until 3 years ago, I was working full-time as a family doctor while my husband supervised the children’s education at home. Now, due to chronic pain issues, I stay at home with the kids while my husband is developing a math tutoring business. If I’m not blogging, I’m knitting, reading, or cooking. Our family is also very involved in our church. Check out my blog at www.domesticadventure.blogspot.com to hear more about the craziness that is my life!
photo by emotionaltoothpaste
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