Homeschooling: How To Get Your Groove When Your Kids Aren't Leaving The House
It's around this time of year that I realize my life is going to be much more complicated than most other mothers. Back to school time is not the same here at my house, since homeschoolers don't go "back" anywhere. Back to school wake up hours are not our wake up hours, I won't be shouting my freedom from the rooftops, Labor Day isn't even a blip on our radar. We have no orientations to attend, and no back to school shopping lists to complain about. What we do have, is a chaotic house just like we did all summer long.
It's really difficult for us to transition from "doing summer" to "doing school", since no one is actually going anywhere. The kids are more loathe to give up swimming all day long when the alternative is seeing the pool from the window, sitting inside at the kitchen table. We have to be really intentional about our routines each day, because not only will it help the kids feel more settled but it will help me remember why we're doing this whole shebang in the first place.
Here are my tips for getting back into the homeschooling groove:
1. Routine, routine, routine! Sometimes it can be easy as a more laid back homeschooling mom for me to let the routine slide depending on how we're all feeling each day. I try to remember that it REALLY doesn't help us if we let the routine float away. Notice I said routine -NOT schedule. Trying to schedule times for each thing each day will kill me. A routine - the order of the things we do each day - is much different.
2. Don't Start Everything At Once! Kids who are not homeschooled do have that big transition - the day they return to school and an entirely different life each day. Sometimes they're ok and sometimes they're not, but largely the fact that they aren't home all day is what allows them to be able to weather the changes entirely. Kids doing school at home can't just suddenly one day do all their subjects and be in the full routine cold turkey. I've noticed that taking a week or two to slide into the routine, adding subjects or actitivities each day and building up to the final big routine really helps.
3. Don't Stay Home! Homeschooling doesn't hardly have to ever occur at home. What? Yes. I know it sounds weird, but here's the deal - take advantage of great weather days and do school at the park. Or in the backyard. Or at the beach. Or anywhere that you can spread out a blanket. Bring along some of your books, a few snacks, and take lots of breaks to run around. Including your envronment in the teaching is a win-win as well, and will make the kids really excited to do schoolwork.
4. Pack school lunches! Something fun I discovered at the end of the last school year was that when I packed lunches (we love reusable cloth baggies and BPA-free plastic containers made especially for lunch) and had them all ready for lunch time, the kids not only ate efficiently (i.e. didn't dilly dalley and take forever to return to studies) but looked forward to lunch and were much more likely to each my healthy choices because they were "packaged" in a fun way that made the kids feel special.
5. Have fun! Don't take anything too seriously, because a bad homeschooling day or a "teacher is sick" day will happen and it's easy to make up the work. Weekends can be school days, holiday breaks are optional and summers can still include teaching. Because we homeschoolers aren't "on the clock", our day can be filled with movies and popcorn on a Tuesday with studies being made up later in the week. Enjoy the freedom to its fullest and go easy on yourself!