After I wrote my last post about the first two days of school, I had a comment by one of my sweet long-term readers who asked if every day went as smoothly as those two days. Those two days did go smoothly, but certainly it is not always smooth. Sometimes it is super rough and awful. Or one child is having a hard time and it is impacting the flow of all the other children and our day. That is life homeschooling multiple children.
Part of life in homeschooling is also just life. This week involved going to the barn, our family attending (and me leading) a breastfeeding support group session, numerous calls and emails and such that needed to be returned after said meeting, two visits by friends to our home on separate days, a run to the allergist and grocery store, a visiting aunt who is here through the weekend to teach machine sewing and work on a mini-quilting project with my seventh grader (which is normally more eighth grade in a Waldorf School, but this particular aunt lives far away so I am happy to take her up on it now!), (our fourth grader also doing a mini project to help brush up on measurement skills and look at textiles and then will have a turn machine sewing in eighth grade for her very own), a husband who traveled out of state the majority of the week, and the pet care of two hamsters, fish, frogs, and a large dog plus meals and housekeeping. That is all life and part of homeschooling as well. Especially as your children grow older, they may have more activities or passions they are investigating and have distinctly different needs than the children in grades one through four. Life may expand outside the home, but being within the home is still the basis of homeschooling and the more you are home, the more smoothly things will run, in my experience.
So, how does one manage life and homeschooling? You just do, and every year it gets easier. Every family has its own unique style and comes to terms with life and homeschooling in different ways. Increasing ages of the children also often helps, but I feel a mother must also become good at boundaries and seeing the larger developmental picture. The larger picture for me is that we work as a team and as a family and show respect and kindness to one another. This doesn’t mean we are always kind, that we don’t make mistakes or that we don’t get angry! However, it does mean that I have worked over the years to help the children become respectful of our life as a family as whole, and to become respectful of the goals of homeschooling for every member of the family and for family life where all members of the family have needs and wants to be addressed. Our third day of the week was not very smooth, mainly due to one child who was having a difficult time. That happens, but each time this happens, we work toward showing dignity and love to the child having a hard day, but also keep working toward that idea of respect and cooperation within the whole family. We may lose much of the time allotted for school that day for that child, but this the idea that our needs are met, some of our wants are met, and that the rhythm of the family as a whole still goes on is a primary goal for homeschooling and life! Our fourth day of the week was better and today was fairly smooth although completely off of our normal rhythm due to having a guest in the house. This takes practice, year after year!
One other way to help manage life and homeschooling is to look back at the end of the week and see what has been accomplished. I tend to schedule too much on one day, even now after so many years of homeschooling, so it is often helpful to me to see what we did. Here are some examples from our life this week. I hope this will inspire you to look at your own day with grades-aged children (NOT those of you with tiny children! You are doing wonderful to get through the day and have rest, play, work and warmth!). This is not for comparing to make anyone feel badly or judged! Think of your days as beautiful books with possibilities!
Our littlest guy participated in circle and a sweet story with a puppet and scenery four days this week, got to whittle with his very own little knife under supervision, a beautiful bike ride with Mommy all to himself yesterday, the opportunity to make salt dough and challah bread (and “Stew” in the backyard with clover, spices and food coloring! ), the opportunity to do yard work and pick up toys , the ability to set the table for meals, say prayers, sing, practice tying his apron, and lots of time to play. Our fourth grader got plenty of time to: read and play, helped with the making of challah bread, review math and measurement with a read-aloud and in practical skills, have a read aloud of her very own, practice form drawings from three Native American tales, and did many things that contributed to the life of the family and also in the community as a mother’s helper for the breastfeeding meeting. Our seventh grader got time to: read and create and play and dream, cook for the family and also with her younger brother, help her sister review math, review geometry and do five beautiful geometric drawings, do four physics experiments and some main lesson book writing, charcoal drawing, painting and sewing.
You really can do this and it will fall into place. Many of you reading this have tiny children and can’t imagine getting to this point, but I assure you that you will! Be strong, know where you are headed and take baby steps to get there! Keep on keeping on!