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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homeschool Stress

I have talked to many homeschoolers and "How do you stay sane?" has to be the #1 question I am asked. The honest answer is that it is not easy all the times.

A typical day for me includes:
  •  A baby who needs both a diaper change and a nap
  • A three year old screaming she needs help from in the bathroom
  • A seventh grader who does not understand the math lesson I have spent over an hour explaining
  • A second grader who does not get how she is supposed to write a complete sentence
  • A fifth grader asking if video games can be used to learn about pet care
  • And for funs-sake, let’s throw in an unexpected knock at the door, making the perfect day complete.

While I will admit that I have reached my breaking point MANY times over the course of our home school journey, I have had to learn what my limits are and accept that there is only so much that I can fit in a day.

I like to remember back to when we made that decision to pull our kids out of traditional school. I envisioned our perfect angelic children sitting patiently and quietly, hanging on my every word, understanding everything just because the lessons were gently floating out of my mouth down to their beautiful ears... If you've been homeschooling a while--I saw your smile as you read that last part!!!!

The reality is that life is messy--really messy. I have yet to get through an entire lesson without some sort of interruption.  Phones and doorbells ring, the household chores need to get done, errands need to be run, extra-curricular activities have to be taken care of, food needs to be prepared, younger children need to be tended too, and most importantly I need a break to recharge. There is also the golden rule to consider—KIDS DON'T SIT STILL...ever. That is why, if you home school--you need a solid and doable plan of attack!

Parents who send their kids off to school have it a little easier in the planning department. It is simpler to run up to the market when you do not have to worry about a math lesson hanging over your head. Therefore, I learned very quickly that a schedule (even a very loose one) is paramount to getting things done. Finding Donna Young's site a few years back saved my sanity.

About the only thing about our school day that stays the same is the morning routine. A typical day at my house starts around 9am. We wake up, have breakfast, shower, change, and begin with the chores. After that, the flow is very organic and changes depending on how the kids feel and how mommy feels.

One thing that may surprise many people is that our week is NOT confined to only weekdays or hours. We threw that thinking out of the window along with the—wake up at 5am to get everyone ready and then jump into the freezing car in order to make homeroom at 7:15 and not get a tardy—system of public school. You can find us doing Science assignments at 7pm right after dinner or Spanish on a Saturday.

We also are not committed to a particular spot in the house. Most homeschoolers I know spread out around their surroundings and allow their kids to pick the spot that is comfortable for them. Not surprisingly, when the kids are comfortable--they learn more!

The best thing about homeschooling your kids is that there is not one hard and fast rule as to how to do it. Organized chaos can create some wonderful things! Once you open yourself up to the possibilities, the sky is the limit!
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