Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good intentions...

I've been full of good intentions lately. I think many of us are. We all intend to eat healthier, read/learn more, get our degrees, exercise, write that memoir, do that charity work... In my case, it was write at least two articles for this blog every week.


Well, life just takes over sometimes. And I think that is especially important to remember when home schooling. It's so easy to get overwhelmed and overcome by negativity. Just because you weren't able to do something or something didn't go as planned does not mean you are a failure. It simply means that something else happened instead. So you have a choice: you can accept what happened and work with it, or you can not accept it and work against it.

Acceptance: We can't control everything that happens in our lives, we might as well accept that. Once you come to peace with that fact, things begin to look much brighter. We can't control things, but we can prepare for the bad things when they come. For example, I know a woman who insists on writing her lesson plans in ink. Very non erasable, permanent ink. Not only thins, but she writes her plans for months in advance! When she is done, she feels a sense of relief. "Look at that, it's all black and white, perfect." But life is not perfect; not by most of our definitions, anyhow. Inevitably, strep throat strikes, or the flu, or an ice storm that leaves them powerless for a week. And then, the best laid plans... well, you know what happens to them. What does one do?

Well, for one, how about writing your plans in pencil? Or doing them on the computer so you can simply cut and paste and move things around. There are a few computer programs out there specifically for homeschoolers to plan their years, and they make it very easy to account for unexpected absences/delays. Then, just move on from where you stopped. Or, you can redo some things, cut a few things out of your year so that you can still finish when you had planned. At the Heart of the Matter Homeschooling Conference a couple weeks ago, Linda Hobar spoke about a "dateless planner" she used so that when things got messy in her year, it wasn't a problem. They just moved on. You can make plans per week rather than per day, and concentrate on getting a list of assignments done over the week rather than over one day. This way, if one day gets hairy, you still have the rest of the week to do that work. It takes the pressure off. And that's the problem most of the time. Pressure. The natural disaster is bad enough, but then you have to worry, are my kids learning enough?? Well, if worse comes to worse, think of it this way. What learning experiences can be derived from what is happening to you? How can it tie into your lesson plan?

When one child is sick, it can be a very valuable experience for your other kids. Accept your child's sickness and use it to teach your other kids about compassion. How can they make life easier for their suffering sibling? Maybe they can research how their brother might have gotten sick, or how he might have avoided getting sick. How can they avoid getting sick from him? You can get a whole year of science just from this, including nutrition, human body, weather, germs, etc.

Our other option is to not accept the fact that life is organic, that it is constantly changing and growing, and as such, is unpredictable. We can write out our plans in ink, and then... bang our heads against the wall a few times a year. We can pretend to be surprised at illnesses, at accidents and natural disasters. But really, is it worth fooling yourself?

So I went a few weeks without being able to post. Well, let's think about this. Why couldn't I post? I was outside playing with my son. I was making plans for my schoolyear. I was watching movies with my husband. When you look at the things that you DID vs. the things you planned to do, life takes a different perspective. What I see is that my family takes precedent over my blog. Which, to me, is just fine.

The next time your kids get sick, think about this--you are homeschooling! You could make them do school when they are sick, they are at home not at risk of infecting others, right? Does that sound crazy? Why? Oh, is it because your kids' comfort and happiness is more important to you than a paper plan? Instead of feeling discouraged by the delay in your plans, feel joyous at the fact that you have such a caring family, who care more about feelings and happiness than events that happened five hundred years ago.

You have 18 years to homeschool. You have only one chance at making TODAY happy for your child.