Well, as I posted on facebook earlier this morning, I came across a family blog, Raising Olives, which talks, among other things, about homeschooling. I love the way the family uses the Word as a basis and a foundation of homeschooling, so of course my ears were perked at the posts. In reading the argument and finding a few new ideas, I have been doing some research over the past few days and putting some serious thought into homeschooling.
But no, worries, people this post will not be all about homeschooling. 😉 Don’t abandon me now, just hang with me a second.
It was from scrolling through the site a bit that I began to wonder the very question most homeschoolers of more than one child wonder – how the heck am I to balance it all and really teach each of my kids without neglecting the other.
While some curriculum is written as a wholistic study for the whole family- LOVE- there are the nitty gritty’s of individual grade requirements that still do not vanish. While we all could be participating in the history lesson, for example, a five year old processes the lesson on a much different level than a 3 year old and therefore has a different outcome expectation.
This is true with all life, but I’m not going to go there.
I started thinking about the dishes stacking up, the laundry taking over and the other repercussions of a full day of homeschooling and being 110% for each kid on our house and schedules. Then I came across the post on putting your family on a schedule. Does this sound so Type A Personality? So of course it perked my ears. 😉
The concept was to think about the things each family member (women, don’t schedule your husbands – not a good relationship helper) needs to get done during the day and would like to get done during the day. Then allot a time period for each thing, realistically, and think through the schedule requirements (ex. nap time, family time, breakfast time, dinner time). Hmmm. This sounded interesting.
So I started with me and made a list of the things I want/need to get done during the day. I came up with about 5 hours worth of stuff to get done between 6:30a and 4pm (when Matt gets home). That’s 5 hours worth of stuff to do in 9.5 hours of time. And why am I falling behind sometimes? Intentionality. So this week I’ve stopped making excuses and been intentional about my time. I’ve found that some days tasks take longer (reflects on Abi’s needy day and it’s repercussions on my workload) but most days I find I have less to do when I have done the workload from yesterday. And I’ve also come across this weird thing called…. clustered free time. What is that to a Mother, you ask? Freedom! I find if I work hard in the mornings that I feel accomplished and like a contribution to my family – let alone coming across this free time stuff. Huh! Who would have thought actually applying Proverbs 31 would get you such nice results? (Hits head).
Through this intentionality I realized I have strayed away from our adventure missions reading routine. When Abi was littler, I used to rock her to sleep in the rocking chair before Rachael and Abi’s nap times, thus allowing a good half hour of reading to the girls daily. As Abi has grown out of the rocking phase I struggled to find a good time to read to the girls beyond picture books. Missing my adventure mission novels, I struggled to put them in during random outside sandbox play and various other times, going for weeks without picking up the book and finding the need to keep renewing the book from the library. Well, sitting down and thinking about it earlier this week, I came up with this idea: post-lunch quiet table play = adventure missions reading audience.
Abi had made it a habit to play in her crib for at least 40 minutes post lunch after I put her to bed, thus keeping up Rachael as well. After 40 minutes, Abi would process lunch, need a diaper change and then go to bed. So, since we were all going to be up anyway, I came up with the idea of table play coupled with missions reading. And I am happy to report IT WORKS!!!
So each day after lunch the girls play quietly (as quietly as a three year old – you’d be impressed- and a 21 month old can play) while listening to me read two chapters. I’ve been impressed at the training opportunity to play quietly and contently by themselves for a half hour. The first day was a bit rough; puzzle pieces hitting the ground, Abi’s constant talking and constant reminders of the need for quiet (not silent) play, my peripheral vision becoming quite distracting while trying to keep solo play going. But the next day got better. And then better. And here we are on Friday, with minimal distractions and the majority of the 30 minutes of quiet play being just that…. quiet. I really am impressed with the girls!
It was about a year ago that I first heard of this idea from a homeschooling, missions-minded Mom of like a bajillion kids (8) who made a missions presentation at the Orphan Seminar that Matt and I attended. We were fresh into the “looking into adoption” group and thought a conference with Sara Groves (come on people) would be a nice “weekend away” for Matt and I to pray and think and pray about the whole prospect. While in the breakout session, the Mom handed practical ideas on how to incorporate missions into your family’s everyday life, many of which we have enjoyed catering to our family’s heart for missions. She mentioned while homeschooling her children (aged tiny to teenager) she had a specific reading time established daily in which everyone gathered in the living room and listened to her read various mission accounts for TWO HOURS!!! I was utterly shocked that her smallest of small kids would sit there and play quietly for such time (though she never once alluded to not having to stop for a break or two so I’m not sure if the two hours was in rapid succession or two or three chunks of time throughout the day). But still, I was impressed. And slightly bewildered.
“It takes training,” was my next thought.
Now while I feel in no way a need to compete or model our family missions love after the exact model of her household, clear expectation and realistic quiet play for busy hands has been such a blessing in my personal reading life, as I have mentioned above. And while at almost 2 and 3 years old they are only retaining handfuls of information (if anything at all some days), it is all in training for the priority, self-discipline and gradual worldview of God’s heart for the lost and dying world.
So as we continue to tweak parts of our schedule and I continue to evaluate and pray through my own contribution and service of my family through my daily schedule (which is subject to flexibility as always), we have seemed to find a good spot for adventure missions readings to be incorporated back into our daily lives. And for that alone in this revamping, I am VERY grateful. =)
***For those of you interested, we are currently reading Amy Carmichael in the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series written by husband and wife team Geoff and Janet Benge. We get borrow them for free from our local library and have enjoyed this husband/wife team’s creativity in taking the biographies of “the big missionaries” in the faith and writing them into a 6th grade friendly adventure novel charting that missionary’s life and work. I have learned so much and look forward to continuing to incorporate these 22 out of 38 novels available free form the library into our lives in the present and future. We’ve already read five of these novels and found great joy in their pages. I am seeing visions of book reports in my children’s future. They also have unit study books available for these novels. 😉