Two years ago, I did a series on what I thought were the essentials of homeschooling. I thought it might be interesting today to take a look back at one of those posts and see what, if anything I’d change. Here’s the original article:
You have to be flexible to be a homeschooling parent. Things don’t always go exactly the way you planned, and that has to be okay. There are unexpected sick days (for the kids and you), last minute errands (or days of errands…), and burnout days. You have to be flexible enough to let things go and say, “There’s always tomorrow.”
Earlier this month, we had half a week of the need to be flexible. Right around New Year’s, Small Fry was sick. I think it was New Year’s Eve, actually. He was just feeling puny and was not himself, and finally, about an hour before bedtime, it became clear why when he threw up all over me (sorry if that’s TMI…). That was on a Wednesday. Thursday was normal, and on Friday, Munchkin was sick with the same thing. He spent the day in bed, but was fine the next morning. But that morning, Seahawk was under the weather and slept most of the day. Sunday of that week, the day before I’d planned to start school up again, was fine. We went for a family bike ride and all was well. During the night, though, I came down with the illness. Here’s where the need to be flexible really struck. Even though it was Monday, and the day we were “supposed” to get back to school, there was no school happening with Mom stuck in bed. Let me also say, I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who’s self-employed and works (mostly) from home. He was able to take that Monday (which happened to be our anniversary) off to take care of the kids so I could sleep and recover. Enter Flexibility Day 2: Tuesday. We’d missed school on Monday, and because we’d also missed our anniversary, we took Tuesday off from school, too. The kids spent the morning with Grandma so hubby and I could have our anniversary date. (We went to see Saving Mr. Banks. Have you seen it? Very good. I don’t even care for Mary Poppins and I liked Mr. Banks. In fact, hubby’s been reading the book Mary Poppins aloud to the kids this weekend. Then we’re going to watch the movie, and on Tuesday, which is discount day at the cinema, we’re all going to see Saving Mr. Banks again.) Anyway. So we started school on Wednesday the 8th instead of Monday the 6th. And did anyone die? Nope. Because we understand the importance of being flexible.
Now, this is not to say that you can call yourself a homeschooler and just never “do” school with your kids. There has to be a balance, and I think it’s better to err on the side of more school days than less. The education has to happen, whether you’re at home or sending your kids to school. But you have to accept that things aren’t always perfect.
Outside of the time-sensitive portions of the post, I think what I wrote are still applicable to every day life for homeschoolers. In order to keep your sanity, you have to have some flexibility. We need to do what works for our particular families, within the confines of state law for where we live. If you live in a state with attendance laws, make sure you’re falling within those guidelines. Are your laws more along the lines of “show us what you did”? Then do that. So long as you’re not risking getting into trouble with the local government, there’s really no right or wrong way to homeschool your children.
Take us, for example. We don’t have attendance laws, so I don’t stress (too much) over which days we do school. About a year ago, in fact, we switched from a 5-day-a-week schedule to a 4-day-a-week one. It’s better for all of us this way. It allows us a day for errands (doctor’s appointments, haircuts, banking, grocery shopping…) and also gives me an extra day each week for prep work. This extra day for preparation means I don’t have to do that work on Sundays, which gives our family a better Sabbath experience each week.
Or when I had a baby two months ago. I knew going in that we’d have to have some flexibility around that time, so we adjusted the schedule to be able to take things easy during the final month of my pregnancy and off for several weeks after the baby was born. By not stressing over keeping a strict schedule, I was able to focus on recovering from my c-section and bonding with the baby rather than stressing over what was (or wasn’t) getting done, school-wise. I think that probably helped me to be able to recover better and faster.
Regardless of what it looks like for your particular family, flexibility – within certain parameters – is a must.
This post is linked up with Throwback Thursday, Blog Style at Tots and Me… Growing Up Together.