We have just entered our sixth year homeschooling. Sixth! I love the way that sounds. In some ways it feels as if I have enough experience to have this figured out and have a good plan in place. Truthfully, that’s how I felt going into last week. I was armed with curriculum I was comfortable with, a routine written for each child, and my very large teacher’s binder where everything is organized and ready to go. I was NOT prepared for my really horrible, first day of homeschool!
So, what went wrong and left me in tears, swearing we were sending them to public school this year? Let me first do a quick introduction of my crew for those who are new to lessonsfromhome.
This is Caleb. My organized, responsible first born. Most of the time he is quick to go along with my many school ideas and he has an incredible power of concentration. He is bright and learning comes easy to him (except for writing, he hates putting thoughts down on paper).
This is Micah. He is easily distracted, talks constantly, but always has a great attitude about school. Micah is happy to do whatever I ask of him and never complains. He is also very bright and learning comes naturally to him.
Meet Joshua and Joel. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but they are the reason for my really horrible first day of school! Now, I have homeschooled with toddlers before and thought I had it under control.
Is it possible for a one and three year old to purposely gang up on dear old mom? That’s what happened! Joshua found his pile of preschool workbooks and scribbled page after page with a blue crayon. Joel was pulling books off the shelves and dumping puzzles on the floor. And if the first twenty minutes of mess wasn’t enough, they then began to fight over every fun toy I pulled out. Building magnets became balls which sailed through the air from an unusually capable 18 month old’s arm. They both coveted the same hotwheel car out of the million that we own, and the kitchen gadgets which they love became weapons rather instruments for mixing pretend food.
2018-2019 first day of homeschool was the worst EVER!
Take a deep breath and reevaluate here. Now that several days have gone by and my stress has reduced a bit, I can take a look and see what went wrong with the week and I want to share what I’m learning.
Life doesn’t go by a schedule
Yes, I, Heather, very organized list maker and schedule keeper has just confessed that life does not go by a schedule. Now, let me be clear here. I firmly believe in my schedules and know that is how we can successfully fit school, activities, housework, cooking etc. into our day without chaos. BUT as you can see from this year’s first day of homeschool, chaos was definitely a problem.
Flexibility is key
It is unrealistic for me to insist that Joshua and Joel play quietly. Just as my older kids need an atmosphere conducive to learning, they need space to do what toddlers are supposed to do.
On bad days, I’m going to throw the schedule out. I learned long ago that continuing to force it to work will simply add more stress. This doesn’t mean to never follow your routine, but make allowances for the days that the baby cries constantly or everyone is tired and cranky. Snuggle up on the couch with a good book or a movie. Spend the morning at the park and try school later. You get the idea.
One of the hardest things about homeschooling is that school is not separate from home life. It has to go along with everything else that is going on. Appointments, errands, cooking and cleaning, endless piles of laundry, the neighbor that stops by unexpectedly, or the friend that needs a lift because her car died. Unforeseen interruptions will happen-often. You can’t schedule these, but you can make your routine flexible enough to make allowances for them.
Change is a part of life
I think this is my most important lesson. Just as my kids are growing and changing, my schedule must also. I have decided that this year I need to sacrifice our afternoon quiet time to work on our harder subjects while Joel naps. We won’t be doing this every day because I am convinced that quiet time is important for all of us. Perhaps once or twice a week. This may no longer be necessary next year as Joshua begins to settle down. It may also be our normal until Joel is adding and subtracting at a desk. I am going to see how things go and adjust as necessary.
Don’t give up
I could quote a dozen phrases here, but you don’t need them. Homeschooling is like everything else in life. If you are dedicated to it, you can make it work. It might not always fit the image in your head or look like your neighbor’s day, but you will accomplish it. Allow it to be your way, in your time, and what is best for your family.
I had to include one last pic of when Rebekah was with us. She hated school lol This is my favorite first day of school pic! I didn’t take one this year, but maybe I should take one a week late and try NOT to remember it as my worst first day of homeschool ever.
And two more links for those days that just don’t go well.