YOU need an education break!
There is a train of thought that works really well for home education for the children, but can be a nightmare for working and homeschooling parents. The train of thought creates wonder and excitement in children. The train opens new ideas, new opportunities, and new experiences for students, and yet...it can leave the parents exhausted.
What is this train you may ask? It is the "always learning" train. We have found it quite beneficial to our daughters to not give them a set school ending time, because we didn't want them to check their brains at 3:30 p.m. and stop learning. Home education truly is a lifestyle, one where everyone can learn all day long, even on the weekends, and explore a vast number of interests.
The problem with this train comes when the parents can't stop the amount of things that still need done and become exhausted and overwhelmed. Parents need education breaks, especially working parents.
Here are some things we have found that can help you continue to enjoy the educational lifestyle with your children, without coming to the end of your proverbial rope:
PrayerOnce again I must remind you that none of us can fulfill this role as home educating parents without help! Rely upon God's strength and understanding daily...not just when you've run out of your own.
Accept LimitationsStop listening to what the world is telling you about gaps in your children's education, and start listening to what God wants you to focus on. Every child's education has gaps, whether they went to public school, private school, or were educated at home.
I went to pubic school, I graduated near the top of my class with an outstanding GPA, know what? I have HUGE gaps in my education! I didn't realize just how big those gaps were until we started educating our daughters. That's ok, because I had a couple of superb teachers who taught me HOW to learn. I have used those skills over and over again to fill in the gaps I wanted filled. I have learned alongside our daughters. Those other gaps? They haven't mattered much in the 25 years since I graduated High School.
Once you have God's plan for your children's educations, you can focus less and less on supposed gaps, and more and more on them learning things that will be relevant to their adult lives.
Make your own vacation scheduleSome homeschooling parents want to take their vacations when the local school takes theirs. Either for convenience's sake, or from fear of questioning, they've forgotten one of the greatest freedoms of home education is setting your own schedule. Yes, there will still be state rules to follow, but if you want to take your Spring break a month earlier, or later, than everyone else -do it!
I am a 4-H Leader, which means a part of every summer is devoted to helping the other 50+ 4-Hers in our club (and their parents) get ready for our county fair. So while my focus remains on helping our daughters understand their projects and complete them on time...I'm still really busy helping everyone else too! When the State Fair starts in August, our family steps away from the rest of our 4-H club and we focus on just enjoying the fair together as a family. The month of August is MY summer. The time between outside responsibilities, and when the girls start their new school year. This is when we usually take a short family vacation. Almost everyone else is back in school, and we can enjoy the sights in relative quiet.
Last year we did something really unusual with our schedule. We went to Florida for a week in early November. Guess what? The beach is almost empty, but the weather is still warm. It was actually hot! We didn't stop learning while on our trip, the exact opposite, as the girls had never been to FL before, and neither Kurt or I had been to this part of the state. Want to know what we did do? We stopped requiring the girls to keep track of it. No reports to write, no summaries to give, not even a little narration. Just enjoy the vacation. It is OK for your child's education to be different from the kids down the street. We were making memories, the vacation was educational, but mostly, it was a vacation ~ for all four of us!
Stop grading PapersOh dear working parents, you simply have to give up the idea of grading every assignment your student completes. If you are working and homeschooling there just isn't time each day, and you probably don't have the mental capacity to stay focused on it anyway. I'm not saying "don't grade anything," I'm saying be selective. Choose which subjects you most need written grades for, or find an online course for your older student that is self-grading. If your student is trustworthy, have them check their own daily work, then all you have to do is administer and grade the unit test. Find a happy medium for your family. Perhaps your oldest students could check the math or spelling papers for your youngest, perhaps instead of always giving written tests, your middle school aged student could answer their history questions orally while they help you prepare dinner. There is a method that will work for each family that has working and homeschooling parents, if you're struggling to find yours, refer back to the first tip: Prayer!
Education Breaks for parentsSchedule in some education breaks for the parents. Or don't schedule them, but DO take them when needed! Just as our children need time each summer to reset their internal clocks and just be kids, sometimes WE need time to reset ourselves as parents. You can give your child the day off of their schoolwork, or you can just choose to not grade anything they completed that day. Find a way to step away from being the teacher once in a while, and simply focus on enjoying your children. They grow up ~ quickly!
Stop in again next week, there is still a lot more to be shared about working and homeschooling!