Tips for Balancing Life and Homeschooling
Wait a minute! You say there is more to life than homeschooling?
Yes, my dear friends, there is life outside of homeschooling. There is housework, too!
In truth, life is more than homeschooling. Finding a balance—so that your home doesn’t look like it was ransacked, your children are educated well, and you find time for extracurricular activities for your kids and YOU—is of utmost importance for success!
Each homeschooling mom finds balance according to her own style. Some fly by the seat of their pants. Others are so organized that if an event doesn’t make it into the day planner, it isn’t happening. And then there are all the moms who fit somewhere in between those two extremes. Knowing how you operate makes incorporating a healthy balance into your life much easier.
Tip: Don’t let over-organization stop you from enjoying the spontaneity life throws at you.
If you are a Type A personality and plan everything out, be sure to leave unscheduled time in your day when something spontaneous can happen. That free time might invite you to pull out the family craft you have been wanting to do, visit the elderly neighbor you never find time to see, or sit on your living room floor and play a board game with your children.
Tip: A skeletal list of work to be done will help you stay grounded.
If you are naturally spontaneous, you need to buy or print a calendar and begin making an outline of your week. Keep track of things you want to accomplish, experiences you want for your kids, and services you wish to provide. Otherwise, you will be easily distracted from homeschooling and find yourself filling your days with activities. You can’t stop what you’re doing before it’s finished simply to move onto something else or put off starting school for the day if you want to meet your homeschooling goals.
For those who fall in between the two extremes, what keeps you from finding a healthy balance? Are you dawdling? Are you too rigid?
My Story: When I taught other children, my hours were set at 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If I had to wait for parents to arrive for late pick-ups, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to do anything but survive.
Too many years of being tethered to my home had me pushing my boundaries. Too often, I ended up “homeschooling on the go” so I could be helpful to friends in need, catch those great sales at the fabric store, or make time to use the fabric and notions purchased at door buster prices.
I discovered that if I established days of the week for art, science projects, and field trips, this schedule gave us permission to LIVE! Approaching the week this way was amazing, freeing, and even inspirational.
Maybe some weeks we didn’t get to our handicrafts on Thursday, but we still had that afternoon blocked off from traditional school work. Thus, we were able to take advantage of a beautiful day and play at the park, visit a friend in the hospital, or spend the afternoon reading good books together.
The project idea remained written in our planning book. The next time that scheduled time came up, we looked at each other with the special “Hey, let’s do something fun together” glint in our eyes and came up with a new project. We’ve learned leather working, watched Civil War movies, read through books that taught war strategies, and then reenacted them—like Shirley Temple did in The Little Colonel. Even playdates became healthy alternatives to rigid scheduling and paved the way for better learning the next day because some monotony had been removed.
Our lives went from being bogged down with what we had to do, to viewing daily tasks as simply what needed to be done in order to free us for adventures.
Over a hundred years ago, Maria Montessori encouraged teachers to incorporate non-academic activities in the school day so that students could work with their hands, help other people, etcetera, as they processed a lesson learned earlier. I know for me, some of my best thinking time is while I’m painting a picture or stitching up a new leather Bible case. I believe this is what Ms. Montessori meant.
Though we are homeschoolers, we are allowed to have days that don’ t revolve around teaching. We can take the time to learn, craft, play, work with our hands, help other people—in short, to live life!
Lisa Blauvelt (with her family and three dogs, two cats, a horse, pony, donkey, two red eared turtles, a fluctuating number of tadpoles and baby fish, and various other creatures collected by her adventurous boys) puts her education degrees to work at her home in the Deep South. There she teaches not only her own children, but others who come to her home to learn. Her decade long experience in teaching children to read will soon be published as a 476 page guide for parents.