I've been a happy stay at home Mom for 25 years and have home schooled our children for all but eight of those years.
I've been glad for every bit that we have done as a family, but I've been most glad for our home schooling years! We've also bought more books that I'll never use again than the number of those that I'd recommend, but that's part of life. Text books are the main culprits. They take up so much time and any real material gets fluffed. Maybe the grandchildren will be better set right? Math and such, though, I still am happy to have my Saxon Math books and the DIVE, they structure our time and make goal setting easier.
Much of the last 15 years my husband has had to work around the clock. Thank God that the last few years he at least has mostly second shift, which here is 3 pm to 11 pm meaning that he gets home at 12 midnight. When he works overtime, which is often, our schedule gets a bit bumped – later. Basically our survival has been made easier by having later bed times for the children. This way we're all on a closer schedule. The children get to see Daddy way more than they would when some of them were in school. Oh! When Daddy would work two weeks on each of three shifts in succession there were many weeks the children did not see him. I'd bewail the lack of a schedule and he'd answer, "No. We don't have A schedule, we have six!" After that I just quit trying to fit our home school schedule with other people's schedules.
We find that it is my time that is most tight, as Mom. So we took my sister in law's advice to start working with the smallest children first, while the older children are finishing their morning chores. We begin any break with the next chore, too, that way the chore gets done, like putting the laundry on the line or in the dryer, "on the way" to having fun. The first few weeks of each year we follow a list to be sure to get the habit of doing what we planned, but once that habit is established even a few days out aren't hard to recover.
My Mom's best advice was what maintains our family's happiness: Know, love and serve God first and we'll know, love and serve each other well. Sort your priorities and base your schedules on those priorities!
Now that the youngest is seven, I have so much more free time; but I wouldn't trade the early years for anything. I was happy to have taken the La Leche League advice to "Put people first." If the toys were on the floor but Daddy needed to get out the door, or baby was crying (you name it – hungry, falling, anxious) we made a commitment to taking care of the people first. Once Daddy is gone or the baby is happy we could pick up toys, etc. Its sweet little principles like this that helped me keep my head and heart when chores or illness could be overwhelming.
Another aspect of our home school schedule reflects how long we're going to "do school" through the year. We live in a very easy state, Kansas, USA, for this. The main things that we need are approximately the same number of hours as the local public (government) schools, certain required subjects, and regular testing/grades.
When the children were young, Whew! We were done with school when the schools were out, no matter what. Now that the children are older, there are courses like Math or Science that take longer for some of my children to complete and they have learned that if they will start early, they can knock out the harder or dreaded subjects better by the end of the year.
Some of our friends go "through the whole year"; which can leave lots of time for trips at low traffic times and spontaneous projects that can't fit a canned schedule. As we grow, we do a bit more of this through the year – but I still haven't given up June and July! And I still rejoice when those yellow school buses go by and I don't have to get on one.
Oh my goodness! I am a home schooling mum of 4 and I have NEVER found a better site! Thank you so much.
Blessings, Jenny (New Zealand)
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