One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexibility that it provides! Homeschooling gifts families with the ability to create routines that revolve around family life rather than attempting to fit family life in around their routines. With careful planning and a little creativity, this can result in some amazing learning opportunities for everyone involved!
As we walk through our homeschooling journey, I like to take time to pause and think through what is working well for us as well as what areas need a little tweaking in order for our day-to-day to flow more smoothly. One of things that has consistently been great for our family is that sometimes we do school in the evenings. In addition to that, sometimes we even do school on the weekends. Oh, and I might also mention that we even “do school” throughout the summer months!
Think all of this sounds crazy? Well, let me explain what I mean~
One of the goals we have for our children is that they will develop a love of learning that lasts a lifetime, and as we foster this in them, we want them to understand how to see learning opportunities any and all situations.
I think sometimes we’re guilty of thinking that children are only learning when they’re tracing letters…or reading a chapter book…or creating a historical timeline…or solving an algebraic equation…and yes, all of these things are important…very, very important….but what about other learning opportunities?
What about placing our children in situations where they can explore all that lies beyond traditional learning experiences?
What about the math skills a child can practice when taking a one-on-one trip to the grocery store or local market? What about the scientific facts a child can interact with while visiting a farm or aquarium? What about the life skills a child can learn while assisting with dropping off donations at a local charity or joining a group that visits with the patients at a nursing home?
These are just a few of the many examples that come to mind when I consider this mindset, and what we have done is attempt to naturally weave these kinds of learning opportunities in to our day-to-day family life.
When my oldest was an only child, this was our natural flow. We could take little nature walks…and spend extended times playing in the water and blowing bubbles out on the back porch, but once baby brother came along, this was a smidge more difficult, but we made it work. While baby brother was taking a nap, we could practice singing our letters and counting aloud. After baby brother went to bed in the evenings, we could practice how to hold a glue stick and spend time exploring with play dough, but little brother didn’t stay a baby. He eventually became mobile. Then later on, a baby sister was added to the mix…and then another baby sister.
Now as a mom of four, it is not always as easy for me to tackle all areas of our schooling while I’m at home with my kiddos during the day – and additional outings? There have been times when those have felt impossible. In fact, we’ve gone through seasons where the only outings I’ve been able to take with them are ones that involve everyone staying strapped down in their car seats…the entire time. Can you relate to this? Are you in that stage right now? I understand – I’ve been there!
So what I’ve liked to do is plan certain experiences/outings for the evenings (or the weekends) when daddy is home to offer an extra set of hands.
In certain seasons, this has been just the ticket! In the morning hours, it’s easy for me to do lots of reading aloud with my littlest ones…we do lots of coloring. I sometimes get extra adventurous and let them use markers! ha! We practice tracing letters and numbers…we work together on dot-to-dots and color-by-numbers…we practice sight words…we watch interactive YouTube videos…we recite our Scripture passages that we’re working to memorize…we play, play, play…
…but there are some things that are a little more challenging when there are itty bitty ones in the house – and I’m sure many of you can relate.
For example, maybe you’re helping a child learn how to appropriately use scissors when they would prefer to cut their own hair rather than paper…or assisting a child with a “big kid puzzle” while their younger sibling tries to grab all of the pieces and throw them across the room….or teaching a child how to mix paint colors to create new colors when one of their siblings is trying to experiment with tasting the paint…or attempting to do science experiments that include all manner of vinegar…baking soda…food coloring…water….ice….you get the idea I don’t even have to tell you what this can be like when you’re the only supervising adult…and there are multiple children involved. Let’s just say, these kinds of activities can result in frustration, but maybe there’s a way you can adjust.
In those early years, I quickly realized that I needed to start being more realistic, and that’s when I really began to see the beauty of flexibility in our homeschooling.
I’ve been there, friends! I know what it’s like to have little kids underfoot with older ones who are ready for new experiences, and I want to encourage you that it’s okay to take a pause so you can rethink HOW you’re doing things in the current season that you’re in with your kids
That’s what I did!
I stopped to consider the school activities that I was fully capable of handling on my own in those seasons – like the reading, tracing, coloring, memorization, etc. and I continued to incorporate those in to our daily routines at home, but the scissors…and the more advanced puzzles…and the painting…the science experiments…all of those things started being saved for when daddy was around – or while the littlest ones are sleeping. Those kinds of activities make the perfect after-dinner activities…and when it comes to the weekends, we usually take our fields trips then.
It is also in the summer when we will take lots of field trips – sometimes week-long field trips if you know what I’m sayin’ – using family vacations as a time to work in educational experiences that we aren’t necessarily able to have right here close to home.
Though we continue to walk through different seasons and stages with our kids, this round-the-clock/year-round approach to homeschooling has become a constant. It has not only helped me keep my cool with my little ones, but it has also given daddy the opportunity to be involved in all of the things we are learning and doing.
The key for our family has been maintaining an open schedule that provides us the freedom to approach teaching/learning this way.
Instead of allowing other people to dictate our commitments (Have you ever found yourself in a situation(s) like that? I know I sure have!). Instead of allowing the ever constant flow of birthday party invitations to overwhelm our weekends – Instead of saying “Yes!” to the many things that aren’t exactly in the “What’s Best for Our Family Right Now” category, we work to leave open evenings and available weekends so we can focus on having the family life that we so desire in this current season of life.
Different stages/seasons of parenting seem to call for different things, and this is where we are right now, and it is working beautifully!
My encouragement to all homeschooling moms is to not be afraid to take advantage of the flexibility that comes along with homeschooling. Instead of trying to fit your family in to a certain mold of expectation, spend some time considering the ages [and of course learning styles] of your children, the season of life you are in, the ebb and flow of your current family life and then get creative about how you can begin to approach teaching/learning as a round-the-clock thing in your home.
While routines and schedules are beneficial for everyone (I’m definitely not saying to throw all of that out the window!), I think everyone benefits when we are willing to relax and possibly reconsider how we’ve been doing things and how we might want to change things up a bit! As a classroom teacher, I was constantly adjusting my MO based on what my students needed at the time. As a homeschooling mom, I have to remind myself to do the same thing for my own kiddos!
You know what you need as a mom…you know best what your kiddos need…you’ve got this!
Interested in resources that will assist you in taking the next steps toward creating a nurturing a culture of learning in your home? I’ve got you covered: