By Catie Gosselin
When we began homeschooling this past Fall, I ordered curriculum on just about every subject under the sun. I scheduled my kids for as many activities as we could pack in a week. All because part of me feared they would "miss something" in our new life. I also went out of my way to schedule one to three "play dates" (for lack of a better word) with other homeschooled children. Again, I wanted to cover my bases to guarantee they would lack for nothing academically or socially. I mean when it comes right down to it, all parents homeschoolers or not, want to give their children everything to ensure a bright future.
Into our homeschooling adventure, however, it became glaringly obvious that I had gone a little overboard. It got to the point I couldn't keep straight who was going where when and how much preparation this involved on my part. The kids would resist getting dressed for a day's activity or just behave plain crabby and overwhelmed. There was just too much happening. So, we went through round one of paring down our schedule.
I breathed a sigh of relief, and plugged along, sure that now I had this homeschooling thing down pat. I have my dayplanner to keep our weekly schedule on hand. I have a second planner where my lesson plans live. I have an Excel spreadsheet to log our daily studies. I have a Word file to log Eammon's reading list over the year. I have it all covered.
As I was about to don my Super-Homeschooling Mom cape and fly in glory into the academic sunset bombshell number two dropped. My oldest clearly needed additional changes in our schedule. The PE program he has attended since he was 3 suddenly didn't do it for him. Since the program is age-based, and he has progressed through so many levels, it didn't even dawn on me that he would loose interest. I scrambled to find a program at the local Y for some athletics. After all, this was messing up my carefully laid out plans for physical fitness and socialization. While I'm frantically scrambling around, my husband made an ice rink in our backyard and bought the boys some used skates to learn on.
The second change he requested was to discontinue his music program. Oh come on, he loves music, what could this be about? (again, academic need and socialization opportunity are threatened here-can you see my Day Timer shaking it's head with concern?) Well, he ran into a bully in the class that basically made it impossible for him to continue. Unfortunately he didn't come to me with this until the session ended, so there wasn't much to do but find an alternative. (Oh, and you can be sure the school was called about this child's inappropriate behavior which the teacher did not halt) He wants to study music, but not there. Enter a kind neighbor with an offer of piano lessons.
The moral of the story is that despite my scheduling, organizing and worrying, sometimes the best solution to a full and rich homeschooling life is right under your nose. Homeschooling doesn't mean a "public school wanna-be" or a secluded Us vs. Them lifestyle. It is an extension of your family and community life. The more I let it flow, the better the homeschooling.
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