It started early this year.
As in, really early. On our first day of Christmas vacation (which was, blessedly, the day before Thanksgiving since we take all of December off), I found myself sighing, “Only five weeks ’til we start again!”
I tried to keep my great attitude to myself. But now that January has come, we’re all online groaning to one another about how difficult it is to start back to school again. I hate to admit it, but it’s happening at my house, too. There are missing math texts, almost-used-up notebooks and too many of the pencils are broken. Everyone makes a sad face when Monday rolls around.
So, what does that mean? Did we make the wrong schooling choice altogether? Should we choose new curriculum? Do we need a new schedule? Do we just need to crack the whip a bit more?
To me, the fact that I’m squealing with delight over a vacation and counting the days ’til it’s over with trepidation and reluctance means I’m doing something wrong. How on earth can I expect my children to enjoy our school year if I’m not enjoying it?
Here’s my guess: My homeschool has become a bit too heavy on the school. And I really need to fix it.
We all can get trapped into feeling like we’re leaving something out, not doing enough, not keeping up with the Bluedorns. That leads to curriculum choices we really knew weren’t quite right, commitments to groups and classes we don’t really want to be committed to, and schedules that make us want to tear our hair out.
I don’t know about you, but when the majority of my days are spent doing things I don’t really want to do, it exhausts me.
All of a sudden, as I sit here today, I’ve realized something: I don’t want to be raising my kids in a homeschool. I want to be raising them in a home. A home where together we read well- written, imaginative books; listen to beautiful music; prepare and enjoy healthy, delicious meals; and surround ourselves with inspiring art and the words of God. I want their memories primarily to be of those kinds of things … not my scowling face, fussing at them to complete that math lesson or finish that literature assignment.
Now, I’m not advocating for tossing all our books out the window and abandoning order altogether. Kids need order and routine – actually thrive on it, in fact. And the books aren’t really the problem (well, maybe the math books could be a problem, but that’s another story.) The story books and history books and science books are wonderful in and of themselves. It’s generally my slavery to the assignment sheet that throws my homeschool balance off, not the assignments themselves.
So what do we do if we can tell our homeschool has gotten a bit too heavy on the school?
My plan is to first spend some time with a pen and paper and write out how I’m really feeling right now. What’s bothering me most? Do I have any idea how to change the problem? Later I plan to call my kiddos together so we can talk about it. I want to hear their hearts, to know how they feel about what we’re doing and what they think would make things better. I want to find out how they feel about each activity we’re involved in—coops, ballet lessons, chess, Friday afternoons at the park—all of it. And then I’m going to decide what’s going to stay and what needs to change.
Perhaps all of our families need a bit of adjustment every January, as we’re half-way into our year and we return after a break. In light of how brief our days are with our children, how great our responsibility to show them the power and beauty of God and His Word before they leave our nests, what should our days really be full of? Am I organizing my day with Jesus or my school planner as the center? What does the emphasis I put on checking off assignments say to my children about my true priorities?
I want us all to live in a home, not a homeschool. I think that means some changes may be in order.
Has your homeschool become too heavy on the school?
Misty Krasawski is the overly-blessed mom of eight children whom she homeschools in sunshine-y Florida. She has been clinging ferociously to the hand of her Lord since she was knee-high to a grasshopper, homeschooling for the past thirteen years, and has eighteen more years ahead of her with the children who are glad she will have done most of her experimenting on those who went before. Her wonderful husband Rob has much treasure laid up for him in heaven for having been called to such a daunting task. After the house goes to sleep she can sometimes be found gathering her thoughts at www.encouragingheartsathome.com.