In a perfect world – in a perfect home with routine being so ingrained that the day never changes and with children so perfect they operate like error-less robots– homeschool will of course go smoothly from day to day without any hiccups. Class will be finished in an orderly fashion. At the end of the week there will be no catch-up. The end of the school year presents with each pretty little curriculum set done early. Lists of books have been checked off as read. Kids effortlessly advance on.
I wonder who actually has this? I sure don’t. Wish I did. But, honestly, that is a dream that I will probably never see fulfilled. Why? Life is unpredictable. It interrupts things. A lot of things. Homeschool is not immune to life’s obstacles. When life interrupts our homeschool, we can either throw in the towel or zealously work through it. This post is about working through it.
A Little Back Story…
Several months ago I wrote about my experience of homeschooling after a hysterectomy. Before that I wrote about homeschooling during a remodel. I’ve also written extensively on the topic of being a working homeschool mom. Adding to the chaos of my life, this fall we sold our house and moved to a temporary rental. We started school again. Then I had a life threatening surgical complication needing more surgery, a hospital stay, and a blood transfusion. Then, right when we started up school AGAIN, my beautiful newfie dog got hit by a car in front of my three children–which really set us back again. Then we bought another house which had a long, stressful closing. And then we moved, again…the same week as Christmas. Oh, and I’m also a grad student to become a family nurse practitioner. You could say that life has most definitely INTERRUPTED my homeschool a lot! TOO MUCH actually!
Why Don’t I Just Throw in the Towel?
I obviously have a lot going on. And depending on who I’m talking to…I may be a terrible mom because I have too much going on. Wouldn’t it be easy to just quit? Or wouldn’t it just be better for the kids if I sent them to school so they could get ‘real’ school? No, no it would not.
Of course it would easy. But I can’t say that sending my kids to public school would be any better. It would probably be worse for us. Yes, I do want to quit sometimes. Thankfully, my husband is very supportive and helps me with school. He knows that if he doesn’t help, I’m done. It is not a one person job.
We choose to homeschool because we’ve seen the other side. The grass is not greener. While I may close one door that ends certain issues and struggles, I open another door which provides a new set of difficulties and struggles which may be worse than what I am dealing with now. I’m not ready for that kind of change right now. That would overload my stress receptors more than they already are. I also don’t throw in the towel because, frankly, God gave me my kids and my husband and I are just fine to educate them, busy life and all! I’m sorry, but people have been educating their own kids for thousands of years while supporting their families in much tougher conditions than anything I could ever imagine. This is nothing compared to that. And those people still survived and excelled.
How Am I Working Through it Then?
I’ve had to give up the guilt I have that my kids have not gotten optimal learning the last 6-8 months or so–which started when we began a remodel. I’ve also had to re-evaulate my definition of education. While my kids have not gotten tons of “book” work during this time other than the basics (and at times not even that), they have learned a great deal about life in general. They have seen both of their parents go through some pretty tough stuff. They’ve had a good dose of reality. It ain’t a bunch of roses, and they see that. They’ve learned what perseverance is on a tangible level. That is something no book will ever teach.
Now that we are at a place where we can start doing school more consistently, I am having to reassess our goals and plans for school. I’m also having to make some big decisions with how we do school in general including time management, days of school, basic curriculum methods, etc. It’s been a long time since we’ve had any sort of routine, and trying to re-establish that is proving to be painful.
When big changes happen in life, some things just can’t go back to the way they were done before. Our lives are not what they were a year ago. The structured day with everything planned out for us with lots of reading and discussion will have to come to an end. While that works for many families, my children don’t enjoy learning that way, and honestly, my energy needs to be spent on teaching my kids in ways they love!
What My Plans are Now…
In the past I have always gone with curriculums that are so structured that it leaves little room for the kids to dig into things they enjoy. In the long run I think I have squelched their love of learning. In the last month I have been drawn to ‘delight directed’ learning or, as one of our other writers, Durenda, calls it, ‘unhurried homeschooling.’ It seems ideal for my life style. It doesn’t mean NO school. It just means a different kind of school. This type of learning includes the basics like math and language arts but then opens up the playing field a bit to include what the kids are actually interested in. When I look back at my childhood, the concepts I still remember are the ones that I wanted to learn about. I want to inspire that kind of learning – the kinds that sticks. That means some of our curriculum plans will get edited down a lot. I am ok with that.
When life interrupts homeschool from major events like moves, new jobs, illness, etc., the first step is recognizing that life is not the same as it was before. You cannot simply go back to plan A. Plan B, C, and D come into play. When one part of life changes, the rest of life needs to flex and adjust to that change. Stress and change are just part of life. Getting used to it is what helps me get through it. That…plus lots and lots of prayer!
What events in your life have set you back more than a couple weeks? How have you handled it? I’d love to hear about your experience.