After an entire summer of research and reading articles about home schooling, a stack of crisp new textbooks on the counter, and a kitchen table full of paper and crayons — I was ready to start the school year.
Or so I thought.
The reality of what I just jumped into didn’t hit until the afternoon of our first day. I did manage to get all four children to sit on the couch as I read to them a Bible passage about King David. They all sat there, just like I imagined it would be. All my children listening attentively with smiling faces.
Then I asked, “Now, who was King David the king of?”
My youngest shot up her arm and bounced to her feet, proclaiming, “King of Narnia!”
Chaos ensued as the kids rolled with laughter and began to scatter. I lost them.
My fourth left the room, tossing a “this isn’t real school” over his shoulder at me.
I felt like a total failure. This was not how I envisioned our first day of school.
It took me several years to figure out that schooling at home didn’t have to be just like “real school.” In fact, it could be better.
Here are three quick tips that will allow you to keep your sanity and allow your schooling at home to become a treasured childhood memory.
Schooling at home is not the same as real school, make it better.
There is no need to set up a schoolroom or buy desks. Don’t try to mimic a classroom. That just creates more work for you to maintain, and an environment that is just not natural at home. Instead, make learning part of your lifestyle. Let the children read in their bedroom, or outside. My son did his best math worksheets in his treehouse.
Remember: We are raising a generation that will enter a workforce, that might not include a corner office. Instead, it might be a corner in his living room. In many industries today, they are realizing that productivity is the real measure of success. Not merely clocking in. The ability to work and learn from home is becoming a high-value skill.
Make your homeschooling rich with memories — not just memorization.
Create memories. Field trips are the best as a family — even if it’s your own backyard. There are so many things we take for granted as adults that are mysteries to children. How a library works. How a farm runs. When children are confined to a classroom, it limits their avenues of learning. When you can visit a working dairy farm, coloring the pages of a cow and tractor serve as reinforcement of a memory, rather than an abstract concept.
For the older children, when studying the Civil or Revolutionary War, take them to reenactments. There are also reenactments of medieval times. Let them read their fill of historical fiction, then take them to watch it all come alive through the wonderful actors who thrive on history. We found so many men and women at these events who loved pouring their knowledge and love of history into our children.
Remember: You have the freedom to make learning come alive. Take every opportunity to take your children’s education out of books and into experiences. The more senses they use to learn the better.
Ditch the schedule, create habits and routines.
You have a lot to accomplish in a day. Not only do you have to teach the children, but also feed, bathe, and clothe them as well. It really is triple the workload. A schedule has its place. But it can add more frustration to a home than order. Instead, create routines and help the children build habits that will serve them for a lifetime. You can create rhythms in your home that create a sense of safety. For example, when we get up, we get dressed, make our beds, and come down to breakfast. It doesn’t matter what time you decide to get up. It just matters that when you do, it triggers a sequence of events that starts the day off right.
Remember: Schooling at home is a lifestyle change. At its heart, it is family time at its very best. Blending education with your parenting, faith, and creating family memories, gives children a rich childhood.
Rhonda Robinson is Producer of Digital Content for Inspiration.org‘s Family Section.
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