When I first thought about homeschooling our kids, I worried that I would run into a major problem: I would hate it. (Or they would hate it). (Or both).
See, I love my children very, very much. I’m often a hands-on mom. I like to roll in the grass and have races and color the driveway with chalk and play CandyLand and read kid books and make crafts and color and build with Legos. I can be a super fun mom and we do super fun things. But I worried with school that I would turn into a Learning Nazi. I am task-oriented and I am driven by checking things off of my to do list. I’ll push through almost anything to finish checking off a list. And so I worried that with all the lists that come with our curriculum, I would force my need to check off all the things onto my children. I didn’t want that and I’ve been hypervigilant about it (although I’ve failed a time or two).
We quickly fell into a good routine. We started out by having a timed schedule where you only worked on a certain subject until the time was up, much like ‘real’ school (as my kids call it). But as things progressed, I got a little more loosey-goosey about our timeline. I stopped writing out exact times for each class on our To Do Board, and just made a list of things that needed to be accomplished by the day’s end. Sometimes the work was done by lunch. Other times we were still working when Marshall got home. But we all got used to having the list. If one child finishes an activity and I’m working with the other, they know to check the list and see what they can do on their own. (Anything that requires help from Mommy has an asterisk beside it). It works for us. And they’re pretty good about making sure they don’t waste too much time when they think I’m not looking.
Then enter Spring Break. BAH! My children are going wild! You’d think it be great to have free time to just play or read or color, but they’ve lost their stinkin’ minds! As I type this they are all playing together in one room and there are things banging around, lots of shouting, and talk of something exploding. I’m praying that the exploding thing is a Ballistiks toy*. I try to let it all just roll off my back, but they’re driving me insane! My tolerance for crazy is pretty high, but whew! They are wearing me down. We have one main rule in our house: If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. You’d be surprised to see how often that rule is applicable. But there seems to be an all-time high of forgetting that rule around here the past few days, and I’m convinced that the root of that is that without a schedule to guide them, they are doing whatever comes to mind…whether they should or not. (Mostly not).
I don’t really know how to solve this. I was thinking that maybe I needed to go ahead and plan out something for every minute of every day and try to avoid this schedule-less issue all together, but you know what? They’re kids! They need time to be wild and crazy. They need time to pick what they do. They even need time to be bored. Some of my most creative moments come when I’m completely bored out of my mind. Boredom gives my brain room to roam, and that’s a good thing. I know they need the free time and free space, but how do I control the chaos? How do I nudge them towards positive, constructive play without taking away too much autonomy from them and without going stark-raving mad?
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