If you have followed along for any length of time, you might notice I don’t talk a whole lot about our homeschooling. Honestly, this is because I’ve found opinions are so strong around this topic, and I like to live and let live. Let me make the choices I feel are best for my family, you make your choices best for you and then let’s still be friends!
But in the past few days I have realized that I do have a few ideas that might be helpful for all of the parents who are now thrust into this lifestyle. My sister-in-law Sara asked me to write something down that she could pass along as constructive ideas for parents during this time. So here are the three biggest things I have found that truly help smooth out our days:
1. Having a daily schedule is a game changer.
I am a free spirit and would much rather see how the day unfolds, but my children can’t handle that. So I have had to learn to organize our day in a way that makes sense for all the needs and personalities we have in this house. Right now we’re focusing on healthy bodies, so there is mandatory horizontal time for everyone (even me!) and mandatory time outside to get some fresh air.
Recently I began a Block Schedule and I LOVE IT. It means every minute is not planned, but every chunk of time has things that need to happen during that allotted time. It brings purpose to the moments when you think, “What are we supposed to be doing right now” or more accurately, “what are these kids supposed to be doing right now!” Here it is, just for reference:
- 6a-9a: Get ready, Morning Chores, Breakfast, Quiet Time (kids wake anytime from 7-8)
- 9a-12p: Home School, Independent Study, Board Games, Quiet Reading
- 12p-3p: Lunch, Horizontal Time, Time Outside, Free Time
- 3p-6p: Time Outside, Free Time, Snack, Tidy Time, Supper and Clean up Kitchen
- 6p-9p: Free Time, Family Worship, Bedtime, Reading in bed (kids go to bed between 7-8)
The thing about block scheduling is that when I ask my kids to get their math books out at 10:00, they don’t look at me like I’m out of my mind. They are already prepped that this is the time we do our school work. Or, if it’s 9:00 and I’m still working on something, they know they need to find a book to read quietly or get out a board game until I’m ready to get them going. It takes a while to lay down these new parameters, but honestly, everyone thrives with a plan.
2. Focus on life skills.
Baking, embroidery, sewing, planning and planting a garden, money management (what a great time to do the teenage Dave Ramsey course together!), discussions on things to look for in a spouse, even what makes a good friend and how to be a good friend. Education is so broad and varied… If your child has a natural interest in something, dive headlong into that topic while we have nothing but time each day! (Maybe schedule in an Independent Learning Hour.) At the moment, I am learning all I can about herbal medicines and even planted 12 herbs for planters outside when the weather warms up. Teas and tinctures are in my future, and I love that I have a purpose with all of these hours ahead of me. So be sure that you as the parent, you are modeling creative ways to use each day too.
This one may sound like Christian lip service, but it is of miraculous importance. Pray right in the middle of your day. Outloud, in front of your kids. My prayers often sound like this, “God, I am so crabby today. I feel tired and weary and my kids are feeling it too. Lord, would you help us to reset this day? This is all so new and different and not what we expected. And Lord, calm our anxieties so that we can pour out love instead of fear. Please grant us your peace this very moment.” And then watch what happens. God is very near. He hears our prayers. He wants our time with our children to be blessed. So ask him to bless it.
Of course I could write a book on all the ways I have been humbled and refined and changed through so much time at home. And if I am completely honest, it is a daily humbling, sometimes an hourly one. But It is a remarkable opportunity to shape the ones I love the very most.
I hope you are encouraged and inspired to see this time as a really unique and special opportunity even amidst the scary news, video footage and speckled maps.
And I just want to share this last thing. This morning Elsie (age 7) asked me, “Mom, can we just snuggle on the couch and read together today?” And I said, sure, set it up, I’ll put the baby down and come back and sit with you for a bit. When I came back she had blankets and pillows all swelled into a nest and was giggling and jumping. She had found a magazine for me and asked me to put on “nice, quiet music like piano or something” And then I put my arm around her and we read side by side. She said, “I’m just so excited right now! Like I’m looking forward to something but I don’t know what!”
I was convicted and it felt like a sweet awakening at the same time: Elsie and I spend every single moment together–but I’m busy! I am always running around the house and farm on to the next thing. And what Elsie craves the very most is snuggle time with my arm around her, reading our own books. So I am adding that to the 12-3 block.