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Reality Checks For Homeschooling

Aug 17, 2007
Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran, it always helps to have reality checks. Take some time to assess what is happening in your homeschooling efforts and stay attuned to the natural rhythms of your child and adjust your days and sessions accordingly.

It does not matter if your are new or a current homeschooler, just starting your school year or in the thick of it, we all have our own ideals for homeschooling: the perfect environment, the perfect curriculum, the perfect schedule, the perfect balance of academics, creativity, and socialization.

Ideals are good. Goals are good. Reality is good, too. No matter how much we plan, life is going to intrude on our schooling. Someone will get sick, the grocery shopping will have to get done, the car will have to be taken into the mechanic...or something else.

So, here is a short list for when you need a reality check:

1. Make plans
Yes, go ahead and plan. Schedules are good. Children often like to know how things are going to go. It helps moms and dads, too.

2. Be Flexible
These are probably the two most important words in homeschooling. You are home, not in a sterile office environment. Things will come up. Just remember that life can be a lesson in itself, when needed.

3. Housework can wait
We do not have to have a perfect home in order to homeschool. Let the dishes go until later.

4. Sometimes ordering a pizza is worth it
There are days when a quick meal you do not have to cook will seem like a miracle.

5. Remember why you are doing it

When a day gets crazy and you feel your sanity slipping, remember why you are homeschooling.

No one said it was going to be easy. It won't be! Rewarding? Certainly! We all lose our grip on what one human being (usually named Mom) can do. When you find yourself straying far from the idealistic homeschool you had imagined, just give yourself a quick reality check, and jump back into the fray.

It is also important to pay attention to your natural rhythms. Your natural body clocks can help us schedule when and how we homeschool. How do you schedule homeschooling in your day?

A lot depends on who is teaching and who is learning. Our body clocks help regulate our day, influencing when we are sleepy, when we are hungry, and when our brains are most receptive to learning. Everyone has a body clock and they all tend to operate similarly. However, genes can play a role.

Are you usually a morning person? Or do you tend to not feel awake until the afternoon? Of course, things like inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, and not enough exercise can contribute to this, but so can your naturally occurring body clock.

This has implications for school. Teenagers are at a time of life where they actually need more sleep, and many studies have shown that they do not learn well earlier in the morning. All of us differ slightly as to when we have our optimum learning time.

You can figure out how this works for homeschooling by observing yourself and your children. When do you seem to get the most productive work done? Are there times of the day that seem to not go well, that end up in consistent frustration for you or your children? Pay attention to those signals, and plan your days accordingly.

For example, I have found that when we do a math lesson after lunch, my children seem to go much slower and become more easily frustrated. So do I, as a matter of fact. If we try it the next day, in the morning, it is a piece of cake! Now we schedule math for the mornings.

Pay attention to the natural energy surges in your day and in your children. Use these to plan your school schedule. You may find that early afternoon, when we are all tend to be sleepy, is a good time for reading and art. You might even be surprised to discover that your family's optimal learning time is late afternoon and evening.

Homeschooling gives us choices. We do not have to school from 8am to 3pm, or even in the morning at all. Find what works best for your family. Do not compare yourselves to others or worry that you are too strange. Do what works for you, and you will find learning at home can fit your schedule!
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy.
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