Homeschooling is truly a family affair. It is a lifestyle. Hopefully, it is a learning lifestyle that continues for the lifetime of each individual in the family. Learning is fun. Family is fun. Homeschooling takes a lot of effort and sometimes can leave parents feeling as if there is nothing left of their once independent person. The parents’ minds can sometimes feel as if all the gray matter has been sucked out as knowledge has been imparted to the children of the household. How does one go about homeschooling without losing a sense of self or going crazy?
Is it possible? Most days, I can reply with a resounding “Yes!” yet on other days, I admit, I wonder if it is possible to make it to graduation day with all of the gray matter I started with when we first embarked upon our homeschooling journey. Homeschoolers all know that choosing to home school means that one will spend most of the day with the children. Let me rephrase that, homeschoolers know that they will spend every waking hour with their children. Homeschooling is not for the selfish! You can home school while maintaining a sense of self, not getting lost in the sea of children’s needs, though. You can home school and remain a sane adult. While it can be tricky, it can be done.
When children are younger, it can be a bit more difficult due to the higher demand for one on one time. As children become older and more independent, finding activities you enjoy is not as difficult. In fact, as my boys have gotten older, I have had to find activities to fill the time I sit watching them work on lessons. Creative use of captured time is what I call it. I always have to be available to answer questions. I cannot create a noise distraction or leave the classroom for anything other than the time it takes to put a load of laundry in the wash. The boys tend to get restless when I am not within close proximity to them while they are working! As the saying goes, “While the teacher is away, the children will play.”
Obviously, grading papers and creating lesson plans is something that can be done while they complete their work. If you are like me, the most arduous task is grading papers. I love to home school, but I had to grade! Those tasks aside, there are things you can do to keep your mind intellectually stimulated. Let’s face it; some of the kids’ school lessons are just not intellectually stimulating to an adult! While I have tried to listen to radio talk shows with earphones, it has not worked for me. I find that I become frustrated when the kids interrupt with questions, so I opt not to do this. However, it might be something that works for you.
Find a good book. During the school day, I stick to books that have short chapters or are easily able to be dropped at a moment’s notice. Believe it or not, I can get quite a bit of reading done this way. I also try to go through books for the children’s upcoming projects and assignments, as well. Books are a staple of homeschooling, so we always have plenty around the house to read.
Spend time in prayer. I use the quiet moments here and there, few as they may be, for quiet reflection and prayer. This has helped to center my life on God and maintain focus on what it important in my life. I have books with short spiritual reflections that are also useful during these small times of relative silence.
Writing can be a creative outlet. Whether you write for fun or to earn extra cash, it can be a creative use of your time. You can even spend this time writing in a personal journal. I have always written and enjoyed it. Recently, I have wanted to help raise awareness of Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome and felt that I could do this in these few spare moments throughout the day. I have also seen that by my continual reading and writing, it has inspired my boys to read and write more, too! This is an extra boost for our home school. I now find that my children are writing more in their free time. What a blessing to have children wanting to write!
If you have the space and are able, you can work on craft projects. In our last house, we had a larger classroom where I had an extra table set up. Once I instructed my kids on their lesson, I could sit and work on scrapbooking and card making projects. I really miss having the space to do this. I do manage to do smaller projects that do not require as much time, though. I also manage to squeeze in daily chores, cooking meals and gardening tasks throughout the busy day.
I manage to do one more thing while homeschooling my boys. I run a non-profit from our house! I find time between lessons to work on the projects for Shwachman-Diamond America. I also use their recess period to make any phone calls I need to make for the non-profit or to call insurance and medical billing departments. It takes effort to plan your entire day – your entire life – around your home school, but it can be done. Whether you use your quiet time for intellectual pursuits or quiet reflection, you can maintain a sense of self while homeschooling. A little prior planning can go a long way.