White Water Rapid Days
I had the best intentions.
After squeezing in one last week of summer with my husband’s time off from work, we planned to “start school” full steam ahead on a Monday. Books were stacked and ready, schedules were organized, and the table was cleared off. Still trying to catch up on laundry after a camping trip, I was optimistic that we would be ready to conquer our new schedule with the new week.
Then, the kitchen cabinets almost fell off the wall! A few phone calls led to a repairman investigating the cause and discovering that none of the cabinets were attached to the wall properly. It was a miracle that they had not fallen already. The “quick fix” involved emptying everything out of all of the cabinets, six hours of noisy repair work, and then putting everything away again. Needless to say, the school day was shot, and my “best-laid” plans flew out the window.
Days are simply not predictable, no matter what my intentions might be, so how do I maneuver the rapids, while still moving forward?
Homeschooling Back-Up Plans
First of all, I have learned to scale back on things that take large chunks out of my day—letting some things go, and not being afraid to delegate. I prepare in advance for times when I cannot be available to work one-on-one with my kids, just as I prepared emergency substitute teacher plans when I taught in the school system. Some ways that I cover school when the day is quickly slipping away include:
- Assigning independent reading
- Having kids listen to an audio book
- Letting kids do lessons from a workbook, such as vocabulary or handwriting
- Assigning dictation work
- Keeping a list of writing prompts handy, and giving each kid his own journal to write in.
- Pairing kids up to practice math facts or learn vocabulary words with flash cards
- Turning on a science, history, or literature related DVD
- Sending kids outside with nature journals and field guides in hand to observe and study
- Giving kids a project to work on, such as building a simple machine out of Legos, completing a geography puzzle, or experimenting with a science kit
When the day gets in the way of school work, I don’t take it as a failure. Looking at the bigger picture and how far we have come helps to prevent discouragement. I don’t play the comparison game. After ten years of homeschooling, I have learned to use my schedule as a tool and not my master. If long term roadblocks occur, I pare down to the three R’s for a while and focus on the basics. Above all, it helps to breathe, put things in perspective, and remember why I homeschool in the first place.
With distractions, interruptions, and white water rapid days occurring when I least expect them, I do have to remind myself to cherish this time with my kids, so I hold on tight and enjoy the ride! And oftentimes, the white water rapid days are more fun than the predictable ones.