Lynna Sutherland- thinking outside the box-flexibility- boy in box looking through binoculars

3 Ways to Think Outside the Homeschool Box

by Lynna Sutherland

You are a homeschool mom. You already think outside the homeschool box. You know that you don’t have to do everything the way most people think they are “supposed” to do it.

You’ve mentally worked through the issues of teaching your own kids when you don’t have a teacher’s license. You know all the responses to the “socialization” question. You may have even been through some “deschooling,” realizing that a homeschool schedule doesn’t have to look like a classroom at home.

Summer Memories

Some folks school year-round. Some folks align their school year with the calendar year. And some folks follow a traditional school year. All well and good. But have you ever stopped to think about your lingering ideas of what summer “should” be like?

When you were a kid, summer was probably a time of special family memories. Maybe you took special vacations or had permission to stay up later. It was a time for sleepovers and fun foods. And if that’s what you want to do as a family, go for it.

But if the approach of summer brings on a new pressure and anxiety to make amazing family memories and have super special events, remember that you’ve got a different perspective. You’re making wonderful memories all the time. You can do special activities at any time of the year. You don’t have to cram all the “wonderful” into the same three months everyone else is.

Homeschool Family Dinner

When my husband and I moved into this neighborhood, we’d often have coffee on the front porch together in the morning. We’d watch all the cars pass as the neighborhood emptied each morning. And then it refilled every evening. My husband reminded me that our home wasn’t going to look like other homes in the neighborhood because it stayed full and lived in (enthusiastically lived in!) all day long.

More recently, I realized that this same willingness to think outside the box can apply to family dinner. I’m aware that Family Dinner is seen as the holy grail of healthy family life. But if your family already spends time together during the day, is there something magical about dinner? What if dinnertime isn’t that one moment in the day when everyone is in the house at the same time?

I’m not opposed to families having dinner together, of course! But there have been points in life where—to an exhausted, sensory-overloaded mom—family dinner was like a group hug when you have a sunburn. Dinner alone in my room was a great blessing. I wasn’t skipping out on the one time all day that the family could be together. I was taking a break from the together time I’d been doing all day long!

Homeschooling Whenever

We found out this fall that we were expecting again. I am eternally thankful that nausea isn’t a regular part of my pregnancy experience—my hat is off to those women who endure this struggle!—but the first trimester is always characterized by extreme fatigue.

I hardly had the energy to push through the morning each day. By the time the afternoon arrived, all the “push” was gone. However, I generally felt better in the evenings after dinner. So we changed things up. The children completed independent work in the mornings. They (and I) had the afternoon free. We then had “morning time” together after the littlest ones went to bed.

You’re a homeschool mom. It’s a tough job. But it also comes with a great deal of freedom and flexibility. No one says school has to be finished in the 9 to 5 zone, Monday through Friday, September through June. It can be hard to recognize when we’ve adopted restraints that don’t actually apply to us, but exhilarating when we realize that we can be free of them. Keep thinking further outside the box, Mama!

I found inspiration for these thoughts from The Homeschool Sisters Podcast, especially Episode 2 “What’s That Noise! Summer Survival Strategies.” Check it out if you’d like more encouragement and ideas!

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