I know many of you who read my blog are not homeschooling moms, but bear with me, please. One of the greatest privileges I have had for the last 22 years is homeschooling my 7 children. I know that God has called me to this job and that He hasn't called everyone to it. It is a privilege and it is a huge responsibility...one that I don't take lightly! If I did, I might have thrown the towel in a few years ago!! Even though we have homeschooled for so very long, I still look forward to the 17 or so more years that we have left. Thirty-nine years homeschooling my children....Wow! That sounds like a career.....and it is!
Yesterday I came across some discussion on Facebook with some homeschooling moms who were talking about being behind in their curriculum for the year. Some had made it through 11 weeks, others 8 and some had pushed through to get 18 weeks done. Some were a little stressed out about it as they were trying to get finished with the curriculum at the same time their children's public schooled friends were finished with their school for the year.
I learned a while back that using a particular "canned" curriculum that dictated when and how things were to be taught was too stressful for me and my family. Most of our homeschooling has been based on unit studies and living books. Yes, there are some subjects that we used textbooks for (math and some high school level science. However, even with those texts we try to teach to the child instead of teaching the text. What I mean is this: If my child is struggling with a concept, then we may stick with that chapter for much longer than recommended. On the other hand, if my child is finding a concept easy and doing well in his work, then we go through much faster....sometimes doing even 3-4 lessons a day. We are trying to master a concept, not master a calendar by trying to keep up with peers.
I do make lesson plans, assignment sheets, goals and objectives. If we don't know where we are going then any old road with get us there, right? But our goals are not just to finish a particular stack of books by a certain time, nor is it to memorize particular speeches or poetry or even to score well on a standardized test. Our goal in educating our children is to instill in them a love for the Lord, a love for their family, a love of learning and a love of serving.
When I take up the school calendar and start planning out our days, I try to give myself a little grace by leaving a margin of blank time. With my seven children we rarely have two months go by that someone is not sick....which usually means that one or more of the others will also get sick. Leaving margin gives me "make-up" days on the calendar to play catch up or, if we have no need to catch up then we have extra time for deep cleaning, planning for the next school session, cooking for the freezer, working on projects or taking a trip. I usually plan for four weeks of school and one week off. This has been so helpful to me through the years. There were several years when Jeff was in full-time church ministry that we schooled for four days and took off on his day off to be with him without the distraction of schoolwork.
If you catch yourself saying that you are behind in your homeschooling, just stop and ask yourself this question: Just who are you behind? God has given each of us a unique family with unique talents, gifts and leanings. Don't focus on where others are in their school year or cave in to the pressure to be like all the others and finish up by a certain time. Determine the goals for your own family and work diligently to meet those goals. However, give yourself margin for the times that will invariably come up that will interrupt your schedule: illness, unexpected guests, household emergencies, and unplanned opportunities to serve others. You might just find that in your determination to not be "behind" that you miss out on some lessons that God is trying to teach you.