by Debbie Feely
Hello. I’m Debbie; it’s nice to meet you. Why don’t you get some paper and a pen, and join me in thinking and praying about your plans for teaching your children next year?
To begin, what did you enjoy the most about teaching or spending time with your children this past year? Make a note of that and then later you can brain storm with your family or friends about ways to expand those enjoyable moments.
Next write down your biggest stumbling block. Again, you will brainstorm what made that area difficult.
Looking at these two areas together will give you some clues as to how you can change your course of study. For example, if reading aloud was your favorite activity and science was your stumbling block, you may want to focus most of your science program on books you can read aloud together: books about animals, or famous scientists, or intelligent design. You may not want to use a textbook and limit your science activities to a group class, a once a quarter unit study, or extended field trips.
What’s Your Vision?
Now let’s talk about your homeschool vision or purpose. Why are you homeschooling? If you have homeschooled for some years already, do you think your purpose is the same or has it changed over the years? Are you pleased with that change? Have you maybe allowed peer pressure from others in your group, or even laziness to take you off track a bit?
I remember a year in our schooling when I changed from a unit approach in teaching to a textbook approach. I did this deliberately, wondering how we would like it. We did not like it. I remember another year fraught with cross-purposed mother and child when I told myself anything was better than public school. What a lie that is. Lack of discipline on the part of parent or child is no excuse for lack of learning.
So what is it that gives you a sense of accomplishment, of keeping to your purpose, and of being where God has called you to be? How can you commemorate that so you are affirmed and have a memorial to remember the days you and your children were faithful? You might make a scrapbook or a photo journal. You might write your story of your success and faithfulness in a book, or in your monthly reports. You might present a certificate, or a sign and hang it up as a remembrance. Treasure your memories in your heart, for a blessing in the future. Then think about ways you can further your vision and purpose next year, looking forward to commemorating another year.
In what ways can you make more room in your day? Are your children helping with household chores? I know some moms think the household tasks are their job, but there just aren’t enough hours in your day to teach more than one child and do all the chores and other jobs yourself. I suggest you set aside twenty to thirty minutes a day as chore time. This can be one of your breaks during your school time. It gives the kids a chance to get up and move about, it keeps your house basically tidy, and more importantly it not only teaches the children valuable life skills, but also makes them important members of the family.Working together in the early years, you will eventually train your children to run the household on their own. Their future spouses will thank you.
Can you think of ways to teach as few subjects as possible? Try to find ways to combine subjects for your family. I think it works well to teach to the oldest child. If he is studying biology this year, then try to find related lessons for the other children. That way, you only have to have biology on your mind as a science subject. It may well be that all the children can work the same experiments and just need varying reading levels for their books. Bible can be taught as a family subject, as can most other courses. Language arts and math are really the only subjects that need individual attention and scope and sequence, but even then, if your children are fairly close in age and ability those might be shared as well.
Other ways to cut down on school time include delaying subjects until children are older, or alternating years or semesters for teaching subjects like science and history. You can use car time for music or books on tape or for working on math memory and much more. Likewise you can use your lunchtime to read aloud or listen to recorded lessons. You might also want to consider simplifying lessons, where that works for your family. An example of this would be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature, which combines all language arts lessons in one volume using literature as the foundation. This will not please every family, but there are other programs on the market for various subjects that are written to homeschoolers and thus not geared to be busy work for filling time in the classroom.
Think About the Kids
Finally, I encourage you to think about each of your children and ask yourself where you see them developing a passion or interest in some school subject or other area. What are some ways you can help them pursue those interests?
I think of a young man new to homeschooling who had a tremendous desire to learn mechanics. Given that as a goal, and the encouragement to pursue it, he soon was excelling and discovered the Air Force could offer him everything he dreamed of as a career. I once spoke with a family who flew. They all did lessons in the car each day as they drove to and from the airfield where they all enjoyed flying lessons. They chose for their curriculum the Alpha Omega Life Pacs to facilitate their choice of lifestyle. I know a young man with a passion for all things Japanese. He is learning Japanese and computers. I can see a future for him. I know a young child who has nearly always had an interest in missions. He fervently prays for missionaries around the world as he studies with My Father’s World.
As we homeschool our children we are training them to take their place as responsible adults in our society, serving God in all they do. It is He who has instilled in them their basic interests. I believe your homeschool years will be enriched and more valuable if you look to the future and encourage your children to grow in the paths where God has called them. A few hours each year spent in reflection and planning will help you go where He has called.
Thanks for the visit; God bless you.
Copyright 2009. Used by permission of the author.
Debbie and Jerry Feely homeschooled their two sons from preschool through high school graduation. Both sons have graduated from Biola University. Debbie is the author of Preschool at Home, available at CHEA’s online bookstore. Read more of Debbie’s articles at www.debbiefeely.com.