by Danielle Poorman
I realized there was a missing ingredient to the success of our homeschool. If someone told me ten years ago that I would eventually homeschool my children, I would have laughed out loud. Even as an experienced brick-and-mortar teacher, I never considered homeschooling as an option. I entered my classroom each day and fed eager little minds with stories and phonetic sounds. That came naturally to me. However, the thought of homeschooling my children created anxiety within my soul.
The whole idea of homeschooling seemed unenjoyable and stressful. But the Lord had other plans. I never anticipated that my oldest daughter would experience school anxiety. Navigating this issue turned all my plans and scheduling upside down.
Four years later, we are going strong and loving it more each year. We have navigated curriculum changes and crazy emotions (especially mine). I realized there was a missing ingredient to the success of our homeschool. I was trying to do traditional school at home. I was forcing education into our lives rather than embracing education as life itself. We needed to slow down.
Now, our days look restful, even with a seventh grader and a preschooler. Perhaps you are wondering how rest can enter into home education. I wondered that too. After several months of trial and error, we found what works for our family. Here is what our homeschool days usually look like.
Embracing a New Beginning
Transitioning from a traditional school to homeschool was difficult for my daughter at first. It took several days to find a new rhythm, a new normal. I soon discovered that it required much patience and grace on both our parts. At that time, my infant son demanded a lot of attention, but so did my fourth-grade daughter. Navigating her anxieties was challenging, and we learned that slowing down all around was essential to thriving in homeschool.
We began each morning with a special “Morning Time” to read Scripture, sing, memorize poems, and enjoy art. This has become our favorite part of our homeschool day. In fact, when life interrupts and we don’t have Morning Time, the children let me know that our day “seems strange.” A time that began a bit chaotic and overwhelming became a time for my children to curl up with their cocoa and muffins and listen to me read picture books. It is the perfect way to start our day.
Enjoy Learning Together
The large age gap between my children can create challenges when it comes to concentrated academic time. When we first began homeschooling, it produced some overwhelmed feelings. The Lord’s grace and my husband’s patience gave me clarity and strength to alter the schedule (many times) and find what works.
Grouping certain subjects together helps cultivate the special relationships that I want to form in our family. Morning Time is the main way we accomplish this. I also have my daughter read to my son throughout the day. This helps strengthen her oral reading skills and gives her some bonding time with him.
Eager Learners Take Their Time
My son wakes much earlier than my daughter. He is always excited about the day’s adventures. After our Morning Time activities, I get him started on various activities while so I can teach a brief math lesson to my daughter. Sensory bins, water mats, and coloring pages are just a few of the activities he enjoys on the floor next to our kitchen table. During this time, I work on a math or science lesson with my daughter. I have found that short, concentrated lessons work best for a student who gets easily overwhelmed.
Encouraging a Restful Atmosphere
Creating a restful atmosphere in our home was the biggest challenge for me in bringing rest to our homeschool culture. As a classroom teacher, I formed habits of keeping with a schedule and shuffling students from one class to the next. That mode continued when I went home, cooked dinner, and maintained clean laundry. Honestly, it took a couple of years to retrain my habits.
That really is the “secret” to encouraging a restful atmosphere. Restful homeschooling does not mean you are not doing anything. It means you are approaching your days with an unhurried mindset that allows you to fully learn and enjoy it. You take time to savor the moments.
It’s amazing how the Lord weaves beauty into the most challenging of circumstances. Finding ways to calm anxiety and cultivate a love of learning has drawn us closer to God and as a family. Restful homeschooling has made that possible.
Danielle Poorman and her husband, Chad, homeschool their two children in northwest Florida. A writer and speaker, Danielle encourages other moms to slow down and savor the moments to experience joy in motherhood over at daniellehope.com.
Copyright 2020, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Winter 2020-21 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.