When I first began homeschooling my oldest son, I was very concerned about getting everything covered. We had a very strict curriculum, with Math, Science, History and English every school day. Fortunately, we also had plenty of time for music, walking in nature and all kinds of other fun projects. As more children came along, and Mom’s time got busier and busier, it was really hard to make a decision between curriculum and projects. I felt that the curriculum was still the most important thing, and if the projects had to be squeezed out or shortened, that was what would have to happen. As a result, we didn’t do as many experiments with science, or art projects, or other things.
As other things got squeezed out around the curriculum, I have noticed some things that squeeze out curriculum for our family.
1 — A beautiful sunny day will often squeeze out the lesson plan. Especially in the spring and fall, if we have a beautiful day dropped in our lap, we just have to use it. That often means a picnic lunch or a walk to the park. Sometimes we get together with friends just to enjoy the good weather. At these times, I remember that each day of our life is a gift, and if we are too busy to breathe and look around we might as well not be alive. Especially children need that breathing room, and hopefully it will carry over into their adult lives. I know many adults who could benefit from a walk in the sunshine during their lunch hour.
2 — A visit from family will always squeeze out a lesson plan. People are more valuable than any thing — even knowledge. So while times tables and handwriting can wait, Grandma or Grandpa never can. When all is said and done, any time we spend with the people we love is the best way we can spend our lives.
3 — An (as Alexander would say) Horrible, Terrible, No Good Very Bad Day will usurp our lessons. Sometimes this can save the day, and the lessons were pointless to do in that mood anyway. Sometimes this is Mom’s bad mood, sometimes it’s a recovery day from a hiking trip, sometimes someone is just too grouchy to stand. That’s a good time to take a break.
One thing that helps me to be relaxed about our curriculum is the realization that for us, school does not have to stop on May 31, and it does not have to start August 20. We can do lessons in the summer if that will make us happy. Sometimes bored kids are glad to do history or science. In fact, we nearly always continue some formal lessons during the summer. One of the main reasons I began homeschooling was to avoid being ruled by someone else’s calendar. With an entrepreneur for a husband, I love the flexibility homeschooling gives us to take days off when it is convenient for us (especially Daddy) and go places when they are not crowded with other people. By the same token, we are not forced to take time off when the weather is nasty, just because it is the end of a quarter or it is the holiday season.
Also, I think I am finally beginning to appreciate how fast time flies. The baby that I was frantic to teach to read at age 3 is now 15 and learning to drive, and he has been reading for a very long time. There is plenty of time for them to learn everything good the world has to offer. But the beginning of goodness is loving each other, and that starts by taking a deep breath and taking time for what each day holds.
Are there some things that guarantee you take a day off of school? How do you remind yourself to take the time for relaxed homeschooling? Please leave me a comment.