Don’t worry, Mom, effective homeschooling is not as hard as you think.
I know you don’t believe me. You have been on Pinterest and you have been comparing (I do it, too). You want one of those planners with all of the spaces filled in correctly. You want those white schoolrooms with white shelves and white desks and color-coordinated supplies.
So do I. At least when I’m surfing the Internet I do. Order and peace, that would be great.
Oh, and kids that were lock-in-step so I could check off lists of boxes and look so efficient and all of our relatives and nosy neighbors would come over and view my marvelous charts and clap their hands in approval.
But I don’t have a white schoolroom with white shelves and desks. And when I do fix up lists with check-boxes life conspires against me and I lose the lists, or can’t find a pen to check off the boxes, or a combination of both.
Now you are relating more.
I found out eons ago there is no way I am going to have a house that always looks like a magazine. There is no way I am going to squish my children into some cookie-cutter shape, no matter how hard I try. There is no chart ever created that can keep their creative, interesting personalities in check.
I also found out eons ago that I don’t need to have white furniture or check-off boxes to be an effective homeschooling mom. One of the ways I discovered this was through a book that you really should read sometime; The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore.
The Moore’s are considered the grandparents of homeschooling. Since way back in 1972 they were a driving force for the movement, prolifically speaking and writing for the cause. It was their influence which caused Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family to encourage homeschooling in the early ’80’s. The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook is probably the best of the books they wrote since it combines just about all of their ideas into one volume. I personally try and reread it once every couple of years.
What does this book do for me? Well, it gets my mind back in focus. In fact, it was while I was reading a chapter recently that I got the idea for this post. In it I found an outline of sorts which suggests a number of things successful homeschool moms should be doing. I thought I’d use this list, with a few ideas of my own thrown in, as a springboard to share some important ideas with you.
Seven things great homeschool moms do:
1. She charges herself up and prepares for the day. (This one I threw in.)
Homeschool moms are not slouches or slugs. We should have the attitude and devotion of a woman who takes pride in her work, just like any other professional person.
(Of COURSE there will be days when you are barely able to stand up, such as during the flu or just after birth, so don’t count those in here, OK?)
And what do professionals and dedicated entrepreneurs do? They wake up with positive affirmations, that’s what.
The idea is not to let the bad dream you may have had or how you feel or your lack of coffee dictate how you will view the rest of your day. While the rest of the world uses positive statements, I prefer the Word of God. This passage is just one example:
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.
What I like to do is put key verses on index cards and have them where I can grab them first thing in the morning. Then I can sit and pray them, meditate on them, discuss them with the Lord.
Professionals also get up and get dressed and pretty (looking and smelling). I know it’s no easy thing to accomplish when you have been up at least once in the night with one or more children, but it’s not impossible. Take it from me, a woman who was pregnant and/or nursing and infant for a grand total of 25 years. If I had decided to wait until my mothering years were over to get myself together, my family would have disowned me!
Seriously, you can do it. Mom. It takes a little effort at first, but after a while it become so routine you won’t be able to do anything less.
It’s easier if you slim down your pretty routine to the very basics. My beauty regimen includes only five elements; moisturizer, concealer, eyeliner, mascara, and lip stain. I keep these in a side pocket in my purse and can slap my face on in five minutes or less. As for my hair, I wash it every-other day and can do it up in 15 minutes or less. I am very careful not to let my wardrobe grow farther than eight bottoms and tops, all coordinated so I can mix-and-match (and not yoga pants and T’s). This way I am not wasting time trying to find and coordinate what I am going to wear each day.
2. “She and the children do straightening-up chores the first thing each day so that the home will provide and organized clean environment for learning.”
This is a biggie. If you can’t find a clean spoon, if your crayons are found between the cracks of your couch, if the only clean piece of paper you can find is on the roll in the bathroom, your day is sunk before it begins.
Pick up, put away, wipe down, and vacuum. Your day won’t be trouble-free, but at least half of your potential frustrations will be taken care of with about 30 minutes of effort.
3. “She selects learning tasks for which each child is ready.”
Is every child ready to read at the age of five or six? Dr. Moore didn’t think so. His target for close book work was between the ages of eight and twelve.
You’ll pay if you ignore the maturity levels at which children naturally integrate their vision, hearing, tasted, touch, smell, physical coordination, brain development, and reasoning ability.
Moore called the culmination of all of these necessary maturity elements “integration of maturity levels,” or IML. His observation was that children who are pushed into formal schooling actually delayed adult-type reasoning to the ages of 15 to 20 years of age.
In other words, when we expect too much from our kids at ages before they are ready, we actually keep them from maturing until later ages (which explains a lot, doesn’t it?). Take the early years and allow your children to build up their own integration levels by:
- Encouraging free play.
- Limiting screen time.
- Reading aloud to them and responding warmly to their questions.
4. She requires only enough daily practice or drill to allow her children to progress appropriately to master of the basic skills.
Give your child a solid foundation in the basic learning tools and the rest will almost happen automatically. Do this by sticking to the FIT acronym:
Frequency–do it often
Intensity–make your sessions focused (15 minute increments are best for younger children)
Time–little bits done consistently over time will yield amazing results
5. “Fun projects are used to integrate and reinforce basic skills.”
First, pick a subject or topic in these areas:
- Social studies
- Cottage industries
Then delve deeply. You could start by a search on the Internet, or pick a history or science book as your “spine” and then flesh out each outline point with stacks of library books and other projects that come up as you go along. Some like to call this doing “unit studies,” the Moores called it “project based learning.” We like to take what we are learning together and either keep them neatly in compositions books or create notebooking pages which we save in huge three-ring binders.
6. “Much of the day is framed around children’s interests with work and service that build genuine golden-rule citizens and successful entrepreneurs.”
So you have babies who are sick, so you have a garage that needs to be decluttered and organized, so you have an old car that needs some TLC, so your relatives need some help moving or remodeling or with a business venture, so your church needs help with a special project–get your kids involved and see how much long-lasting learning happens right before your eyes.
7. “After reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling are mastered reasonably and without rushing, she lets her scholars explore largely on their own, making herself available to help find resources and occasionally to answer how or why. The older they get…the more they effectively operate on their own.”
This goes marvelously in theory, but we all know there are those kids who need a little kick here and there, especially in our day of screen addictions. This is why Internet and screens are always subject to parental control in our home, especially when we see that there is more time being spent on devices than on living and interacting.
It’s also amazing how things change when young people start working for some cash, especially in the service industries. They start seeing life from a different perspective, appreciating money, gaining valuable perspective on the realities of where money comes from.
I hope this list is helpful to you. And here’s a happy fact; you are probably doing most of what’s on this list already! So live each day and be free. This homeschooling thing is not supposed to be so hard. It’s supposed to fit nicely into real life!