Yesterday was the kind of day that I really used to struggle with when we first began homeschooling — one that looked very little like a public school day. During the evolution of our homeschool, we’ve run the gamut from school-at-home to just a few tip-toes away from unschooling. We’ve found our balance somewhere in the middle. These days, although we look little like a public school classroom, the learning moments are generally pretty evident and well-defined, and they follow a fairly predictable routine.
Sunday afternoon, however, I was feeling a strong need to fall back and regroup. Last week was a terribly busy one, followed by a terribly busy weekend. Although we were home most of the weekend, it was filled with projects. I had pushed the lesson plans aside until Sunday…and, then, ran out of time. As I told Brian, I could have pulled it together and we could have had a fairly regular school day on Monday, but it would have been stressful. On top of that, all the kids were feeling a little under the weather, thanks to seasonal allergies.
So, Sunday night, I called my sister and told her that it was up to her whether or not to bring Nim on Monday, but that not too much of an academic nature would be taking place. My sister decided not to bring her, which worked out well. Nim really isn’t any trouble, but her not being here meant once less person to need me for something, which was something that I appreciated.
I had planned to do a light day of school, with the kids making corrections on work that I had checked and doing a little catch up. They surprised me, though. When we got to the part of our day where we actually started some schoolwork — late Monday afternoon — they just assumed that I meant for them to do all the work that they typically do independently. Since they weren’t balking and it didn’t require any one-on-one from me, I let them do it. So, they actually got more schoolwork done today than I had anticipated.
They also helped get the house back in order, cleaning their rooms and the basement. These lessons in working cooperatively are the ones of which I would have failed to see the value during our early days of homeschooling. These days, though, I see significant value in an occasional “life skills” day. The kids worked on problem solving (who was going to clean up what, since none of them, apparently, were actually personally responsible for the mess), cooperative behavior, conflict resolution, self-control, following directions, correctly and fully completing an assigned task, and acceptable and effective ways of dealing with frustration.
Additionally, they were able to work on sorting and categorizing. This came into play when I gave the instruction that things should be put where they go, not just shoved in a corner or drawer so that Mom couldn’t see it because she would be checking and she would pull out things that were put in the wrong place so that they could be put in the right place. I only had to do this twice…and the second pile was in a different room and much smaller than the first.
While they cleaned and worked on schoolwork, I was able to write out lesson plans for this week for the basic subjects, get a good idea where we’re going on our study of Italy for Around the World Day, look through the library’s online catalog to see what books we’d need for our study of Italy, put books on hold at one library and make a list for another (which required an afternoon trip to that library), get the laundry caught up, get things printed so that I could update Nim’s learning center, get supper in the crock pot and generally feel like I had a handle on things once again.
And, we’re all better for it. All the kids are feeling better and we’re able to start our day with work (of the academic and household variety) caught up, so that there isn’t a lot of stress to start our day. I am so thankful for the flexibility that homeschool affords and for the ability to recognize the value of days like yesterday, where once I would have stressed over all the classroom-looking things that weren’t getting accomplished.
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.