Monday was the start of our new school year. I home school my two oldest girls by the way, in case you’re new to my blog. It’s our third year of homeschooling and this time around, I was “ready”. I’ve made months of lesson plans, planned out strategies for what to do with the two and three-year olds who are not in school, and poured over blogs and books all summer. I took a much-needed break (i.e. I swam a lot and went to the beach) and came back rejuvenated….or so I thought.
Our morning started well and by well I mean, there was only a little spilled juice on the floor by our newly two-year old and only one tantrum by my three-year old. The dog got loose again and made a beeline out the front door, but was quickly caught by our sweet neighbor. This was way better than our typical charade of my children and myself screaming and running around the neighborhood in search for this naughty dog. Oh yea, and the new cd player that I really wanted to help our “language lab” got thrown on the floor by a little person and no longer works.
So, how was your day?
Because mine wasn’t even close to what I had imagined it to be!
I’m just ganna tell you right now that I even searched “terrible home school days” on Google for encouragement from other homeschooling mom’s when I was ready to throw in the towel by mid-afternoon. I didn’t find much. Come on ladies, could someone please blog about how terrible it can be sometimes? Thanks. That would help a lot.
So, I cried a bunch and felt like a miserable failure. Thankfully, I have friends who point me to scripture, so later in the day I heard: “Just remember Shanna, His mercies are new each morning. Tomorrow will be a new day.” You better believe it. I’m taking that to the bank today. So, here we go again!
Tuesday WAS a new day. It was started with much prayer on my end. I asked the Lord during some quiet moments with only Him to be MY teacher and to guide ME.
And then we tried something a little different. Instead of trying to start school first thing this morning, we just played with the little girls. I rolled around on the bed with my two-year old and we laughed our heads off while she yelled “hush!” at the top of her lungs-her new favorite word. I took everyone to the library and we picked out fun books to fill our afternoons and while I’m pretty sure the Librarians were cheering when we left, we had fun. We ate lunch with only a little spilled tea on the table (we are in the South after all) and then we got started on school. I reiterated expectations and goals. Then, I looked into their little faces and told them how much I love them and how much I value their education. This really is how life goes with lots of little ones. It’s almost never as pretty as our beach photo and it often requires a change in plans and re-direction. If this is your life too, embrace “the crazy”, you’ll be happier for it!
If this is any help to you, here are a few strategies for the year:
1. I have to get up early and by early, I mean before everyone else in my house. This is challenging (with a 3-year-old), but for me, it’s a must. I make breakfast and we sit down together as a family when they get up. One of the greatest verses that has helped me to be disciplined where it doesn’t come naturally, is: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are TRAINED by it.” Years ago, I wrote it down, posted it where I could see it and committed it to memory. I remind myself of it often when the alarm goes off too early, when my kids need to be “reminded” yet again, or even when I am making choices about food and exercise.
2. I need time with the Lord every morning. Tuesday morning, I was claiming “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 It doesn’t mean I’ll never lose my cool, but His word teaches me surrender and at the same time gives me great confidence! “The Lord is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in times of need.” Psalm 46:1 I have been saying these truths to myself all day long and I will come back to them often. Keep the truth before you!
3. I’m trying something new this year that my friend Aimee shared with me. I’m giving the girls 2 tickets each day when we start school. If there is any complaining about doing their work or they sit for 5 minutes without moving their pencil for example, they lose a ticket. Once both tickets are gone, they earn an extra “chore” around the house. They are going to catch on quickly or I am going to have really clean baseboards and no laundry to fold! I just got tired of saying, “come on, let’s focus….sit in your seat…pick up your pencil.” There will be very little of that and much more “I’m so sorry, you just lost a ticket. I hope you don’t lose the other one.” They can also earn one back if they are doing an exceptional job of turning the day around. Oh and ps. There is nothing wrong with making your kids run laps around your cul-de-sac when they can’t stop bugging their sister!
4. Whatever you do in homeschooling, never lose sight of the reasons you chose to do it. I want to lay a Biblical foundation for our girls, so I point them to scripture often and we talk about how God’s word applies to all the little parts of our day. I also want to know “how” they learn and how to tend best to their hearts. This takes time to engage them and talk with them, and with so many other things going on in our home, it can be a real challenge, but I believe it will reap benefits down the road that I absolutely want!!
5. Be flexible!! I am still learning this. I just have to roll with some changes to our day and that’s hard for the little planner in my head, but it’s a necessity with lots of little ones.
6. I am quick to say that homeschooling may be “just for a season” in our home. However, I wouldn’t trade all I’ve gained from these past two years for anything. Sure I feel tired, worn-out most of the time, and don’t get nearly the “me time” that I would like. I was hoping there was an “easy button” like Staples has and have found that there just isn’t one. But, we’ll continue to lay the foundation and trust the Lord to do the great work in all of us that we so desperately need.
So, here’s to a new year and a fresh start!