As another school year comes into focus, I want to give you a heads up about something that often happens at this time of year. You may be experiencing it even as you are reading this post.
The school year is looming and plans are swirling in your head as you prepare for another year of educating your children at home. An overwhelming job, not for the faint of heart. You work at organizing, sorting, and getting all the things ready.
Then, out of nowhere, comes some unforeseen situation or challenge, something you never expected, something utterly discouraging…. leaving you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. The wind has effectively been taken out of your sails.
Are you homeschooling with little ones in the mix— underfoot, climbing on the table, needing snack every 4 minutes, causing general havoc?
I have lived this life for quite a few years. Somehow we all survived and now my two oldest are homeschool grads and in college, so apparently they must have learned something along the way, in spite of shrieking toddlers and their mom being on her last nerve much of the time.
Starting around 2011 when Toby (our fifth) was born, things got crazier and more difficult every school year. Just this year, I am starting to come down the other side of this particular rugged mountain experience. The peak of the mountain was probably in 2017, when I had five in school, 1st grade to 12th grade, and three too young for school, ages four, two and nine months.
Amanda recently sent me the question below. I have heard at least three other moms voice a similar question in the past few weeks. Amanda has Annie who is 10 years old and in 5th grade. She also has James and Leah, twins (adorable pics throughout!) who will be two in October. This conversation is shared with Amanda’s permission.
(I also added a few more ideas at the end, that didn’t necessarily apply to Amanda’s situation, but might be helpful for others.)
Amanda:Hi! With the “virtual” school year approaching…I have a question for you!
Just how in the world do you homeschool on the HARD days? The days where the little ones are throwing fits every 3rd minute? The days where no one is listening? The days where it’s just plain hard?! We amazingly are getting to keep Annie home from school this year (one good thing I can blame on covid!) ..still enrolled in public school but it’s not going to be enough instruction, so I’ll be doing additional math and reading/language arts with her and Bible!
Even with reviewing math all spring/summer with her it’s been hard at times, but given the situation we were able to be super flexible. But with her being home full time now, I want to establish such a schedule that it’s still “school” to her..not a whole bunch of free time, etc? How do I do it?! 🤷🏼♀️😬😆
Me: Great question, and believe me I get it!! Homeschooling with little ones in the mix is just plain hard! Here are my thoughts and suggestions, for whatever they are worth: 😅
God has you where you are for a reason, even though you may not understand what that reason is. None of us fully understands God’s plan at work in our individual lives. It’s tempting to think that something really important, something that makes a lot more sense, is out there somewhere.
“That something else is, in our imagination, a very important thing, and it has an imagined importance that makes sense to us. It is a creature of ours. And if it makes sense to us, then it is a sure thing that we are flying blinkered and blind.” -Douglas Wilson, Ploductivity
#1 Joel of Galilee. This book. Oh my goodness. What a treasure! As the title suggests, Joel is a boy living at the time of Christ. This little gem was written in the 1800’s and has been reprinted for today. We have been reading this aloud for our elementary school history each day. It’s had me in tears recently. Poignant, beautiful, stirring, enlightening.
#2 Independent Reading. Upon packing up all of our things for our move, sorting through, figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of, I realized how many wonderful books we had that seemingly never got read. You probably know the kind I mean— the more educational types of books of all sorts and sizes. I grouped them all together in one big box for the move, and made a note that when we started school again, I wanted these books to have more of an ‘official’ place in our homeschool. They now occupy their own dedicated shelf, and they are getting read! Continue reading “Three things I’m loving about our homeschool this year”→
I just love seeing pictures and reading updates on your family. I really look up to women like you who have big families. We have four right now and that is considered big here. My oldest two, both boys, attend school in grades 4 and 2. My 3 year old son is going three days a week to a Montessori preschool and I have the baby at home. After my oldest son’s first year of school I looked into homeschooling. I knew it was something I needed to consider. He did well in school but there were just so many conflicting ideas that we didn’t necessarily agree with. We never did decide to homeschool, however, it is always on my mind and heart. I guess what I’m asking is what kind of structure do you have to your days? At this time I’m all over the place with my home keeping and I fear that would be the case if we chose to teach the children from home.
A Mom in Canada
Thank you for your kind words. I love seeing your sweet little ones on Facebook and seeing how your family is doing, as well.
Teaching long vowel sounds while mopping the kitchen floor? In at least one place in the world, those two unlikely candidates pair quite nicely: the homeschool.
I was finishing up a few things after our morning family chore time. I was a little late getting over to the school area where the older ones were (supposed to be) already getting started. The floor had been prepped and the mop bucket sat filled and waiting, but the floor had not yet been mopped. My daughter impatiently waited in the kitchen doorway for me to get her started on her kindergarten work for the day.
I thought, “Today she is supposed to begin learning long vowel sounds.” Then, I thought, “She’s here, and I’m here, so let’s just go ahead!” So, I mopped, and we talked. We talked all about vowels and the short sounds she had been working on for the past few months, and then we began to discuss long vowel sounds and what that meant. The mop water swished as my daughter jumped for joy at the excitement of this new concept. “I LOVE long vowels!” she said.
Reading books of substance goes a long way toward true education. As homeschoolers we need to provide quality books and we must provide our students time to read. I am hoping to do a better job of this in the future; we always have room to improve, right?
Let’s be careful not to overestimate the value of running around to extra-curricular activities, and underestimate the value of time to read and absorb a good book.With that in mind, I am excited to share this amazing book list with you. This list comes to us courtesy of my brother-in-law Daniel. He kindly provided me this list in 2016, when I was searching for Christmas gift ideas for my teenage boys. Daniel is an avid reader, a history buff, and a dad of four boys. I knew, when I asked him for a book list, that he would offer valuable suggestions of exactly the types of books I would want my young men to read. Continue reading “A Book List (especially suitable for young men)”→
Get ready, get set, go! Currently, our household is in a stage that feels like “geeettt reeeeeaaaaaadyyy”, mainly because two weeks ago we tore the dilapidated ceiling out of our school room (down to the joists) and have been trying to give the entire room a facelift. This is the only room that has basically gone untouched since we bought our old farmhouse twelve years ago. This room has finally gotten a turn for some improvements, at long last. I’m loving how it has turned out. Fixing up my nest is one of my favorite activities. I should be showing some pics of the changes on my Instagram soon.
This year, our “getting ready for school” phase has also involved a new activity; that of getting our firstborn packed up and out the door for his first semester of college. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to think about how many days it will be until mid-December.
Not much has been happening here on the blog, except for things quite unrelated to our theme, which is supposed to be marriage, motherhood, ministry and making a home. Time to get back on topic. Thanks for bearing with me! And thanks for following along!
Life on Windy Hill has been more of a whirlwind than usual. School came to a conclusion amidst a flurry of year-end activities.
Then, this happened on June 2. On graduation morning, which was marked by nonstop torrential downpours, I told Steve, “Today the dominoes are starting to fall.” He replied, without missing a beat, “No, today the arrows are starting to fly!” [Psalm 127:4] Continue reading “The First Arrow Flies & Summer Kicks In”→