Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: How a simplified homeschooling routine helps in difficult times

Sunday, February 12, 2017

How a simplified homeschooling routine helps in difficult times

I don't know if folks who don't know me well in real life follow this blog closely enough to know when I take some time off from writing, but in case you did happen to miss me over the last couple of months, I wanted to take a moment to check in and confirm that yes, I am still here and still homeschooling!

I had to put my blog on the back burner over the holidays, as my family dealt with some difficult times. My mom had some pretty severe health issues, including being hospitalized with a stroke before Christmas, having surgery shortly after that to resolve a blocked renal artery and finding out she would have to have open heart surgery as soon as possible. In the middle of all that, my uncle on my mom's side passed away following an extended stay in the hospital. 

When it became clear that this school year was going to be complicated by difficult times, I realized I would need to simplify our homeschool routine in order to keep things running smoothly and keep the kids on track with their studies. 

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You may be homeschooling through difficult times as well, or find yourself doing so in the future. These are some of the things that have helped us to keep homeschooling in spite of the complications.

Reducing our obligations


From running our local homeschool group and writing this blog to taking the kids to extracurricular activities and events, I had several obligations outside of simply homeschooling and maintaining the house, which in itself is a full time job. One of the first things I did, when I realized we were in the middle of a difficult season, was pull back. 

It's not always easy to reduce your obligations, especially if you don't have others to pull up the slack for you. I am not a super-blogger with a virtual assistant on staff to keep things going when I need to step away, and I didn't have a reservoir of pre-written pieces I could just schedule to post in my absence. So stepping away meant letting the blog sit idle for a while, and being okay with that. 

Reducing my outside obligations in our local homeschool meant letting some things go, too. During a time when I would normally be busy planning activities and leading field trips, I have had to step back and hope others would take my place. 

Revising our schedule


The next thing I did when I realized we had weeks, and possibly months of work ahead of us helping my parents as my mom recovered was to revise our schedule. I knew that my twins would need help with things like learning new concepts in algebra, but they could easily handle studying world history on their own. So I changed our schedule to focus more heavily on math at the beginning of this semester, before the heart surgery, so we could get more of that done while I have more time at home.

As homeschoolers, our schedule is wonderfully flexible, in that we can move lessons and even full courses around to accommodate our family's needs. While I am spending time with my mom at the hospital, my twins will likely be working on history and literature, subjects they can do without supervision, and my youngest will be focused on reinforcing a few skills that need work before moving on to new concepts in the spring.

Reassigning our chores


Along with revising our school schedule, I realized quickly that I needed to use this time to reassign the household chores. As my kids have gotten older, their list of chores and household duties has not always kept up. Like many moms, I have found it easier to do things myself than to delegate the responsibilities that I should. But I needed help, and my kids are more than capable of doing extra work around the house. 

Of course, with more responsibilities come greater rewards, so in addition to increasing their basic chore list, we gave them lots of opportuinities to earn a few bucks by going above and beyond what was expected. In the coming months, there will be plenty of ways for them to earn both spending money and other rewards by helping with big jobs at our house and their grandparents'.

Renewing our  faith


There's nothing like hard times to remind you of your faith. Of course, we find ourselves praying a lot lately that my mom will be okay, but we also find ourselves feeling thankful for the little ways we see God moving in our lives day to day. It shouldn't take a crisis to bring us closer to Him, but there is nothing wrong with resting on God's promises and leaning on His grace and love during times of trouble. 

Letting difficult times put your homeschool routine in perspective can be a good thing. Yes, we're still focused on learning, and on getting through this year's material in a timely manner, but if that time ends up encompassing part of the summer, so be it. Even though a lot was added to our plates in the middle of this school year, simplifying our homeschool routing and adjusting our priorities has actually made the load seem lighter than it was before, and maybe by the time this rough patch is over, we'll be breathing that much easier.