by Lynna Sutherland
I’m no money-saving expert, but I’d like to suggest that basic money-saving principles can cross-apply to your homeschool schedule. I remember once reading some wise advice from a money-saving guru. She said that there are basically two ways to save money. One is to find a less expensive way to get the things you usually buy. But the other way is to stop purchasing some of the things you regularly buy. It’s the second way that can really make great gains in your budget.
So it is with your homeschooling schedule. So many times the advice available out there is focuses on helping you to get it all done more efficiently. You can make some margins in your schedule through efficiency. But if you really want breathing room, you are going to have to toss some things. Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions.
Your Homeschool Schedule
First, drop anything that is a great source of tension between you and your student. I know that sounds like “giving in.” And I’m not necessarily saying that you have to drop it forever. But if you can’t get to everything, keep the things that are going well and drop the thing that isn’t. Allow those feeling of anxiety to cool off—both for you and your student—and take some time to rethink your strategy. It’s likely that most of what you try to teach in a stressful situation won’t be absorbed, or will be attached to negative experiences and emotions. That isn’t a good use of your time no matter how you stack it!
If the thing that isn’t working is all of homeschool in general, it’s okay to take some time away from that, too. Just because you aren’t doing “official” homeschool doesn’t mean that learning isn’t happening all over the place. The primary foundation for great writing is great conversation and reading or hearing great literature. Sometimes you can learn more about science when you’re not “doing science.” And in our family, playing a board game always counts as “school”! (I’ve even collected a huge list of popular games and the skills they practice!)
Don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling sometimes involves doing hard things Meeting challenges with determination is an essential character skill. And entertainment value isn’t the best gauge of quality homeschooling. But if your current system is putting a strain on your relationship, at the very least you need to take the time to rebuild trust, talk about your goals, and get on the same page. It doesn’t have to be all fun and games, but relationships do have to come first.
Second, cut out anything that you’re only doing out of guilt. You know there are things in your homeschool schedule that are only there because that’s what “good homeschoolers” do and you don’t want your child to miss out on any opportunities. I’ve definitely gotten that vibe from moms about teaching Latin or taking nature walks!
Here’s the thing. Your child is going to “miss out” on opportunities, so you might as well accept it. We (parents and kids alike) are finite beings. We have finite amounts of time and energy. Everyone makes decisions about how to spend those resources. No one does it all. Why not choose to spend your days on the things that you and your children mutually enjoy and thrive in? You are a unique homeschool mom. You are raising a unique batch of kiddos. That’s not a bad thing!
Homeschooling can be a scary choice! Even in the Christian community, homeschooling is still, by a large margin, the minority educational option. Maybe your in-laws think you’re crazy. Maybe the neighbors wonder if homeschooling is some form of educational laziness. Lack of community and support can be incredibly stressful. But don’t let this anxiety find its way into your homeschool schedule.
Sometimes we pick up activities because, deep down, we’re hoping that some day, they will provide our source of validation to the world. Someday, when Johnny is a concert pianist, when Mary wins the nobel prize in astrophysics, and when Tony gets a full scholarship on his athletic accomplishments, then the world will know you were right all along.
Don’t hold your breath. Remember that society may not even have the same standards that you do for what “success” looks like. There are time where it makes sense to stretch and sacrifice to enable children to exercise their particular gifts. But beware of those goals that are more about proving yourself to the world.
Instead, Knowledge and Peace
Homeschooling involves constant observation and reevaluation. Especially when you’re homeschooling with little people, what works now may not work in three months. Know yourself. Know your children. And, especially, know the Lord. Make scheduling decisions on the basis of these three principles and you will find far more peace in your homeschool!
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Bio: Lynna Sutherland blogs at Homeschooling Without Training Wheels, where she loves to remind moms (and herself!) of the freedom and flexibility that come with homeschooling! Lynna and her husband have seven children. The motto of their homeschool is “Wisdom Is the Principal Thing” from Proverbs 4:7. You can follow Lynna on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Periscope.