Homeschooling your children means they are with you 24x7x365. As we move through the ebb and flow of everyday living events and circumstances can arise that challenge the delicate balance of your homeschool such as births of new children, illnesses, changes in family dynamics, holidays and vacations. To avoid the roller coaster ride of an out of balance homeschool, one must narrow down of activities or involvement in outside pursuits to the most essential for maximum benefit. It’s also important to maintain a structured routine while allowing room for flexibility. I have never experienced a family that was sorry for having these parameters in place.
Let’s review these parameters in greater detail and learn how you can begin implementing them in your homeschool.
1) Regular Routine: I like to call our regular routine a family rhythm because I don’t go by a strict hour by hour or 15 minute regimented schedule. We’ve divided our day into four quadrants including morning, afternoon, evening and night. Each quadrant has an anchor which helps us transition from one to another and get back on track if our day requires more immediate attention such as working through character issues, learning a new academic process or the needs of the younger children. If we get “off track” from what would normally be our routine the family rhythm naturally picks up where we need to be, so that nothing is lost or left behind. We are always right where we need to be. Routine is good to help children remain balanced which is achieved through regular sleep, meals, naps, open play time and reading a lot of good books. The routine shouldn’t be so strict that it squeezes out inspiration and novelty. Children remind us that novelty, playtime and exploration, are all essential for our every day.
2) Flexibility: This goes hand in hand with the regular routine. When working with children you must at all times remain flexible. It’s only right to honor each of our children with the space they need to grow and learn. Rushing about or demanding only creates undue stress which leads to other issues to handle. Being flexible takes understanding your child’s highest values, observation, doing your own inner work, learning about yourself and many times preventing issues from ever arising in the first place. It means moving at the speed of nature, sometimes waiting on the child’s timing and at other times the child has to wait on the parent’s timing. As you are flexible with your children they too can be flexible with you. Flexibility is written into our family rhythm so I am no longer looking at the clock running a daily race. This is a big stress reducer.
3) Narrowing Down and Focused Activities: Children are young for a very short time and should not be engaged in daily activities outside of the home. If children under the age of seven are involved in activities outside the home, it should be limited to people with upstanding character in the family and community. Reduce this to perhaps one or two activities or classes, for they should be receiving plenty from the regular interactions with you in everyday living. Having your children by your side, they will grow to trust you to build strong foundations which are essential as they enter their teen years. When you’re no longer running at break neck speeds, stress for the entire family is reduced. Structuring your day in such a manner will leave a lasting influence on your children. As they grow up in this habit they will adopt it as a way of life. Once you have your family rhythm you can relax and have time to yourself knowing your children are well cared for and getting everything they need.
At first glance, many people mistake seeing children as demanding or too much work, however it is through establishing a family rhythm, maintaining flexibility and letting go of the need to do it all, we find ourselves experiencing greater insight and balance. Achieving such insight without children in our lives seems utterly impossible.
“Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!” –Og Mandino
Parents Inspired to Action:
- Create a family rhythm instead a trying to keep a rigid schedule. Set up your quadrants and anchor times.
- Notice when the need for flexibility arises and make the necessary adjustments.
- Be more selective with the amount of outside activities you choose to be involved in. Guard the open play and project time so your children have time for exploring, imagining and creating.