Let’s face it, there will be days and even weeks when our best-laid plans for our homeschool will be thrown out the window. This happens to homeschool families located anywhere in the world. Children get sick, or you the teacher, falls ill.
This past school year we had so many sick days that we are now way behind our “schedule”. Two weeks ago I was down with the flu. Two quarters ago, we went through a city-wide flood that pushed back our homeschool calendar another two weeks. After our first quarter was over my daughter announced that she didn’t want to study Math anymore because she had struggled so hard with a topic – which stopped us doing Math for about a month.
Whatever the reason may be, what do you do when homeschool life doesn’t go as planned? As I lay in my sick bed last week I realized a number of things about this…
Plan for the Unexpected
Surprisingly, I had not learned this lesson from our previous homeschool year when we encountered sick days. I still planned our homeschool calendar without putting a “buffer” to allow for sick days or those days when you all just need to take “time off”. By incorporating these slack days throughout the year, you reduce your stress levels over the need to finish curriculum, meet grading and testing deadlines with your homeschool provider (as in our family’s case) or with the government (for independent homeschoolers).
So my take-away lesson for the coming school year is to put in more slack days and make the most of any time extensions you are allowed to take (if you’re like me and partnered with a time-bound homeschool provider). When you can speed up your pace, go ahead but if you need to slow down then you won’t find yourself pressed for time to finish curriculum.
Make Mid-Course Corrections When Needed
Sure, most teacher manuals and curriculum guides say do A, B and C then 1, 2 and 3 in this order to complete everything. But I learned from a veteran homeschooler that this was a sure ticket to stressing yourself and your children out. Be open to making changes, mid-course corrections or switching to something else that will work if you hit a snag in your homeschooling. Don’t let the manuals and guides dictate every detail of your studies or lessons or even learning experiences.
I don’t know about you but I have a hard time remembering this. Feeling the pressure to complete all our textbooks, I realized that I was being such a “stern” teacher and mother and taking everything so seriously. I was impatient with my children and taking the joy out of our homeschool.
Children can’t learn from a state of fear or stress. They learn best in a safe and relaxed environment. As mothers and homeschool teachers, it is our job to create this for them. So if your homeschool lesson plans and calendar have gone awry, don’t fret, instead, laugh.
Ask for Help
It is so hard to ask for help sometimes. But I realized that you cannot do it all on your own if you want to homeschool successfully. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, with curriculum, housework or errands, when you know you need it.
In my case I asked my mother to help me teach our native language subject (Filipino) to my children as and to help my daughter with her English to help me free up some time so I can focus on the other subjects and so I can teach my younger son while she’s with my daughter and vice versa.
We used to start every study day with a prayer. As I felt the need to catch up and the pressure to finish our curriculum building, our prayer time started to slip. I noticed how much shorter tempers where (specifically mine), how we lost the focus on character-building and deepening our relationships with each other – when we didn’t pray before studies. Prayer sets everyone in the right frame of mind (teacher included) and asks God to be first in the studies – not the grades, not the curriculum, not the requirements and not the teacher – but God.
I believe that all study should glorify God and lead to a deeper understanding of His character – this is the ultimate purpose of education. The discovery and development of our children’s talents happen as a natural result of getting to know God in our lives. When we cover our children, our lessons, ourselves and our educational journeys in prayer, submitting ourselves humbly to God’s direction and honoring him with our study time, then even when accidents happen and the unexpected throws our plans out the window, we don’t need to fret because we know that we are still learning according to God’s time-table.
Mary HC Roxas homeschools her 3 kids in the Philippines in partnership with The Master’s Academy Homeschool. When not busy chasing birds or bug-watching with her kids, she’s usually found with her camera taking pictures of the moon and the city sights as a hobby/amateur photographer. She blogs about her family’s homeschool and life at My Tropical Home. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.