My motto for homeschooling has always been "life happens."
No matter what year, the ages of my children, how well prepared (or not prepared) I am, homeschooling never turns out like I expected. Schedules have gone with the wind. Curriculum have shown their strengths and weaknesses. Unexpected running around most often will blow a few days with an assortment of appointments, special events, a classes or lessons, family/friends, etc. (For me this year I got sick... after the first day and ended up in bed for a week) So after three weeks (or four), it is a great time to reassess the general plan for the school year. We will never be perfect at homeschooling, so we must continually allow God to show us what needs to be changed.
I don't think a year has ever gone by that I didn't find out that one of my children just didn't fit the curriculum I so thought would be perfect. Also some subjects/studies end up taking a lot longer than I anticipated, and some parts of lessons we just never seem to get done. Little things like: not having enough binders, needing notecards or graph paper, realizing copies have to be made, and trying to remember where I put a resource or book or special tool (like the compass or protractor). When this happens, if I can't remedy it quickly I just move on and figure we will get back to it. For me, getting distracted can be one of my worst enemies.
So after a few weeks into the homeschool school year is the perfect time to rethink plans:
- Subjects- make a quick survey of each subject, it may help to write each curriculum down, note the positives and negatives, adjust what you must, and if all else fails... if something really is not working at all, ask around/look around for an alternate. Many sources for used curriculum can be found; one of the best sources can be other homeschool families. From experience, forcing a child or a lesson plan to mesh is not a good idea. You probably would be better off banging your head on the wall because that is what it will feel like everyday anyway. Remember you are not a slave to lessons written in a book, and neither should your children be. Lesson plans are to be helpful guides that assist you and your child in learning. Be willing to let go what you must. And if you have been skipping something you really want to do, think about what you can prepare ahead to get it accomplished.
- For example, I am using Mystery of History III with my 10th grader and 8th grader. We never get to the timeline or maps, and I really want to include these items. So I will need to make the copies on Monday or Tuesday so I have them available at the end of the week. I will put them in the back of the book, so I know where they are when I need them. And on Friday I will make a point of joining my children during their history lesson. (By this age, my children can do some of their school by themselves making available time for some household work, errands or one-on-one assistance.
- Schedules - it will be obvious by now what activities or routines or days are burdensome. Go ahead and tweak it a little. If you need to move a date for a lesson or even drop some activities, do it. School is suppose to enrich life. Never force your natural flow or your child's into a box. Be sensitive. Include your family in brainstorming new possibilities. Ask if the order of subjects is working, or if a change would help. And you have probably realized you need to get to bed at a more reasonable time than during summer to get up before early afternoon (especially if you have night owls or teens). Try some increments of slowing down, turning off electronics, and transiting to bed time earlier. Do forget to schedule spirit life time for both yourself and your children, too.
- In my home, we really ignored the clock this summer. We were so carefree and staying up real late.Being willing to stay up allowed me the blessing of being available for my teens that want to talk after midnight. I found that I had to stay up one entire night last week. In the morning (as my husband left for work) I went to bed and slept for about 2 hours, from 6am to 8am. By 6 pm that day I was soooo tired I was looking forward to crawling in bed. After doing that my body reset, and I am able to go to sleep earlier and rise earlier. (my 16 year old son suggested it... I thought he was crazy but after trying it I was delightedly surprised - it worked!)
- Support - You need assistance. It may be meals, laundry, loneliness, frustrations, messy bathrooms, a certain troublesome subject, no alone time, (even less frequent bath-times), errand running, etc. You may experience any or all of these, and likely more not listed. Homeschool families need support!
- Of course, your first source is God... and I really do literally mean God. You will find that homeschooling will press you into Him and onto your knees. He is your number one "go-to" person. If you are running on empty, run to Him. Frankly, everything else can wait a few hours or even a few days. Nothing is more important and believe me, your children will notice.
- Don't forget to talk with your spouse. While they don't often do the teaching, you may have one or two subjects that they would love to help do or be responsible to check. I for most mothers this is not the norm, but you will never know if you don't communicate. Also, ask for prayer, or even better pray together. He may also be willing to pick up one or two household items that you never get to or if your children are old enough, assign them one new chore. If everyone shares the load, it is less likely for one person (most frequently you!) to get burnt out or literally exhausted.
- And don't forget about fellow homeschoolers. Even if you don't have a group in your area, you can plan a time for some of the ladies you know to get together. I have always found this time to be refreshing (even if it is with one mom for an hour). For me, it is so nice to be with others who can relate and share.