Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Lessons for mom

 One thing about me, I love to talk homeschool. Ask anyone who knows me and they might tell you.."If you ask her about home school, grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable"  Or they may possibly say, "Don't ask her about homeschool, she'll talk your ear off!" 😬

I remember the year my oldest was getting ready for Kindergarten and I was searching for other moms who homeschooled. I felt completely overwhelmed and lost as to what I should be doing.

Curriculum was so overwhelming. Who would of thought that teaching reading and numbers was so popular that there were a million and one companies that taught you how to do it..

Yearly evaluations, where do I begin! All I could imagine was someone taking my 5 year old daughter into a separate room and asking her algebraic questions and her opinion on the critically acclaimed novel, How to Kill a Mockingbird. You then could only imagine my overly dramatic scenario turning into a child service social worker advising me to send her to school because I was clearly unqualified to teach.
                           Slightly dramatic thinking was happening over here..

Let's certainly not forget the social aspect of homeschooling. What kind of mom would I be if I didn't have extra circular activities outside of the home?! Not a good one of course!  Or so that is what I believed.

Then there were the constant fears and doubt of not doing enough.
-Not reading enough
-Not socializing enough
-Not doing enough "hands on" activities
-Not playing enough
-Not strict enough
-Not having enough fun
-Not having enough structure
-Not teaching enough science or history..or any at all...
This list of not enough can be endless, daunting and suck the joy right out of us can't it?!

  Occasionally I sit and reflect on those first few years of school. I think about the differences compared to how we do school now. The changes, the seasons...

 With that, there are a few things that I have learned and continue to learn along the way. Hopefully some of these will offer a bit of encouragement to another mom who finds herself in some of the same ruts or fears as I mentioned.

  Read Aloud. This is something I wish I would have begun in the very beginning of our homeschool journey. I have come to love this part of our "schooling"
It's never to late to begin. It may feel slightly awkward at first if this is not something that you or the children are used to taking time out for, but I promise the reward is great!

So grab some fun story-telling books, old classics, adventure, mystery, biographies. So many great ones to choose from.
 You can visit the library if you have not yet built a library of your own. Most libraries offer a "pre order" option now. They will call you once the book(s) is(are) available & hold it for you at the desk.  It's such a great tool if you're to busy to visit the library or if you have young ones.

            Lets be honest, taking young ones to the library is not always a good time. is also a great online thrift book store if you're looking to add to your library at home.

The thing I love about sitting and reading together is that it can be done anywhere at anytime at any age.  They are never too young or too old to sit and listen to mama read to them.

 My older girls still love to sit and listen to me read and most of the books they have they already read once or twice. It's just a precious time together and I have grown to treasure it so very much.

My oldest daughter laying on the couch wanted me to make it clear that she is not mad in the picture.  haha

On days that are not going quite the way you had envsioned or marked all beautifully in the school planner, no worries. Snuggle up on the couch with a good book or go pile on mom & dads bed. Stay there for hours if you'd like..

If it's crazy and you need some "down time"  Sit the kids at the table with some lunch, grab a book and read while they eat.

If the baby's cranky, the toddlers are to loud and your first grader (or 2nd, 3rd, 8th grader..) is complaining that they can't concentrate with all the noise (story of my life over here..😜)
Grab some blankets, a good book, paper & crayons, pencils & sketchbooks, a pitcher of lemonade or a cup of coffee for you and the older ones and head outside.
                     I would call that a successfully, good school day and so should you!!

Just as a quick side note; this time does not have to be "perfect" in any way. Whenever we do our reading time, there are always little ones running in and out. Interrupting me while I read. Sometimes I have to snap my fingers at the boys wrestling and remind them to do something that is quiet.
              If we wait for the perfect time to read together, it will likely never happen at all!

 Family Groove.
As families, we can all be so different. We have different schedules with work, school, activities, ect.

It's so important to find your family's groove.

Deciding what things are important to you, your spouse and children.

I can remember the first few years of our homeschool. I had this "idea" of what everything should look like.
It appeared to me that every "good" homeschool mom could sew, bake her own bread, had morning devotionals with the whole family, played games on the weekends, had very limited T.V.  time,  had each child excelling in their talents/gifts through extra curricular activities, took field trips and/or vacations to visit national Monuments, Museums and Parks.
 Not to mention the structure in their school day, the beautifully, organized school rooms, well planned out daily lessons & dinner menus.

When my children were sleeping at night, I would be searching online and reading all the big bloggers homeschool tips, clicking on all their links that offered "freebies" and downloading everything I could get my hands on. I was in awe at their homeschool room tours, the activities that they did and the way they incorporated lessons into each one.

What was meant to be an encouragement to me and offer me new, fun ideas had me walking away feeling ill-equipped, overwhelmed and at times jealous & frustrated.

As the Lord does in every area of our heart. He so gracefully began to teach me, soften my heart, and show me what He wanted for our family. 

As an example;
My husband has an hour commute one way to work every weekday, Monday-Friday. He is out of the house by 5am every morning.
I would love to sit and have a cup of coffee with him before he heads off to work. Have breakfast together and have a family devotional or time to do some scripture writing together.
However, that would require us all to be awake by 4am every morning and well... that sounds just plain awful!

Since he begins work early in the morning, he is able to be home by 6pm at night, which gives us the ability to have dinner together as a family, talk about our day, laugh and have good conversation.
If there are biology questions or algebra problems, we usually leave those for dad to help with.

       We can usually sneak in another cup of coffee later in the evening together as well.😉

Because we have been adding precious children to our family over the years, we chose early on to not   heavily involve ourselves in co-ops, or sign our children up for extra activities that required weekly commitments out of the home. Even though we were available on weeknights, it just felt chaotic and not worth the time or financial requirements that came with it.

Though this season is changing, I'm thankful that we decided to spend that precious time as a family together.

Our daily schedules have shifted and changed many times over the years. Mostly because of babies, but at times because of my health or my husbands schedule and commitment to other things outside of the home.
 I'm excited to share and elaborate on this in a different post for another time, but for now these are just a few short stories of what works now or has worked for us in the past.

 The important thing is for you to find what will work for you and your family.

So for now,
I have learned to bake fresh bread, but not until I purchased a mixer that could do the work for me.
I can now sew a button on to a shirt and repair an injured stuffed animal.
Devotional, prayer and a love for the Word of God is another post for another time, but I can tell you it has not come naturally for me and it remains a fight for my time and attention daily.
Family games on weekends hardly ever happen, we're more of a grab some popcorn and watch a movie type of fam.
We rarely go on vacations and certainly have not crossed visiting the many National Parks we all long to see & visit off of our bucket day!
Organization and structure to our family and homeschool is again, another post, but it has been something the Lord continues to teach me and give me an understanding and love for.

Prayer.   When doubt, frustration and exhaustion creep in.
               When you feel unworthy or ill-equipped.
               When you're unsure, have no answer, and don't know how to teach a particular child.
When you feel overwhelmed. Have no more space in your home to organize all those books and you feel chaotic and disorderly.                  
 When someone seems to have it all together and you feel you have nothing together.
When you can't possibly look at one more algebra problem or listen to one more child complain they "Can't do it"              

Lean on your spouse, ask for help when you need it. He may not be home with you all day while you teach the children, but never doubt his ability to see whats happening and offer you some input.

Find a friend who homeschools as well and ask them to pray with you and for you.
Surround yourself with seasoned homeschool moms who will encourage you, share ideas with you, and lessons they've learned along the way.
You will learn great things from each other.

Most of all, pray! He will always give you ideas, encourage you, strengthen you, love on you and gracefully teach you.

                                                   Have a beautiful homeschool year!