Because we genuinely care about raising well-rounded children, we are constantly analyzing our homeschool approach, poring over how-to articles and are trying to think of creative ways to connect with more homeschoolers.
We never want to be one of those homeschoolers. You know the ones that didn’t socialize our kids.
The “art of socialization” is a never ending topic in the homeschool world.
I am not even going to go there about the hotly debated term of socialization because I’ll leave that when I have had more caffeine.
Today, I want to encourage you to think about the stress we bring on ourselves when we try to adopt this world’s view about our children needing socialization.
Are Your Homeschool Activities Losing Value?
How do you stop the homeschool time drain when you are connected with more groups, homeschoolers and co-ops than you would like to be at this time in your journey?
In our quest to raise our kids in the real world, we can take on more than we should when it comes to homeschooling activities.
Justifying our demanding schedule in the name of learning and homeschooling can lead us down a road where we are reacting instead of being proactive about our schedule. Have you lost control?
Finding homeschool balance is not easy and it’s normal somewhere in our journey to be over involved with outside activities. Finding the exact number of activities that enrich your year instead of encumber it is what counts.
For example, the time I had when my household was younger with preschoolers and toddlers was a terrific time for outside enrichment.
Not only did going to Kindermusik (music classes for babies, toddlers and early childhood) nurture my sons’ readiness for learning, but it was a way for me to educate myself about child development and to make lifelong friends with other homeschooling moms. I didn’t realize that of course at the time.
When my son got to high school age and before Mr. Senior 2013 was driving on his own, his need for visiting with other young men his age, his need for fulfilling some of my class requirements in high school and his desire to look for a job made for more demands on my time for outside activities.
Gauging how much time to spend outside the house is not easy.
Look at these points that can be used to help you take control back of outside activities.
- Return on your Time. What value are you getting from the outside activities?
If your goal is for your children to have more homeschooling friends, then is taking a private class worth the investment right now? The class has to be weighed against several factors to see if it’s of value at this present time.
For example, if you have several children and they are all very young, then would an active group with a regular park day be a better investment of your time than an activity for one child? Don’t make decisions based on mommy guilt.
The more kids you have the harder it is to satisfy their individual needs. I am not discouraging you from doing this, but I am encouraging you to try to meet whatever your goal is for the current year.
I do know this and that is the older kids get, the easier it is to meet their individual needs because you have help in getting out the door, help with the house and even have supper cooked for you on certain days by your teens.
- Alternating Activities = Sanity-Sparing. Also, as kids get older, they really don’t care how many siblings they have when it comes to a class or hobby they want to take.
One reason we are homeschooling is to explore unique educational opportunities for each child. To balance one child’s needs with the needs of the other family members can be downright puzzling.
When I got to the point in my journey when each son wanted different classes, I came up with another solution. I alternated their classes each week.
I cannot tell you how much stress this relieved, but also how effortlessly it worked.
Though it took more time on my part working out a new schedule other than the one suggested by the different teachers, each of my sons were delighted to be taking classes that interested them and I was glad I was able to control how much time we were away from the house.
Raising Selfless Children in a Selfish World
It worked something like this.
Using Tuesday as an example, we would take art class the first Tuesday. The next Tuesday, it would be wood working class and then back to art class the third Tuesday and so forth.
Did I mention a couple of unexpected side benefits? The cost was lower because it was spread out and the extra time in between classes allowed the boys to focus more energetically on what they were learning.
The plod along pace was a luxury that made learning about each topic more meaningful for the year.
Too, I switched to year around homeschooling and that was a perfect fit to help my sons finish the full course though it was done slower.
The key to making this plan work is to be sure you use the same weekday.
Making my schedule stick to one day outside the house in what would be otherwise be two days away from the house because the woodworking teacher wanted one son to come on Wednesdays and the art teacher wanted my other son to come on Tuesday is the sanity-sparing tip.
Be very picky in about giving up another day away from home and be very creative in how you use days away from the house.
- Half-Day School. Half-day classes are not just for kindergarteners.
This was my other revelation the longer I homeschooled. If I was going to be away from the house, then I could also satisfy all of my children’s needs for unique classes if I divided up one day.
Getting two classes in on one day for different kids is not easy when they are young, but when they are older, it is easier.
The tidbit to remember here is to try to schedule first in the day the class that is more academically intensive when your child is fresh.
Mr. Senior 2013 took a writing class in the morning with other homeschoolers and then in the afternoon, I scooted by the piano teacher for music lessons for Mr. Awesome and Tiny.
When Mr. Senior 2013 was at his writing class, I headed to the library for read aloud time for my younger boys.
After traveling the distance to town, the younger boys were ready to move around and we will never forget Mrs. Lou Lou at the library because she made reading time come alive through dancing and singing.
The piano lesson in the afternoon was only about 45 minutes for the younger kids and it was time enough for me and Mr. Senior 2013 to grab a cherry limeade at our favorite drive-through restaurant, talk about what he learned without interruption from his younger siblings and to share some heart felt moments when he and I were alone.
It was hectic to get out of the house many mornings but I tried my best on minimizing stress in the morning by having their clothes laid out and trying to prep my crockpot the night before.
It has been worth every effort of both driving in the rain and sitting outside in the car in the hot sun as my sons made lifelong friends.
Finding balance with not only filling the individual needs of my sons but my need, though I didn’t always realize it at the time, for homeschool friends was not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
I tend to over do things and have to find my center of balance again.
Over homeschooling, over parenting and over socializing can drain your homeschool time. It’s worth considering the time you spend away from home each year.
Weigh outside home activities for the return value at the present moment, be creative in alternating your children’s schedule and look at half-day activities to divide and conquer the many activities your children are clamoring to do.
What about you?
Have you figured out other ways to meet your children’s needs without sacrificing your time away from home?
Hugs and love ya,
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