There have been several HUGE, life changing events we've been through, that used to knock me flat on my face while home-schooling. The first one was when Abram was born...but at least Abby was only 2, so it's not like schooling her was any more than reading fun books. Still knocked me for a loop with all the changes in routine. Then we went through a hurricane where our entire downstairs had to be re-floored, half re-walled, and re-painted. It was a nightmare that lasted a year. It also knocked me on my...tuff.
Then, when I broke my leg...it was like my last straw! Not again!! I finally started thinking about what-if these huge knock-me-down changes in life kept happening. Could I handle it? What could I do about it? What if the kids got behind in school? Should I keep home-schooling?
I didn't get the answers right away.
Then Joshua was born shortly after a drunk driver hit me and we both had to have chiropractic care for a year. A double whammy--brand new baby and unplanned doc appointments--and pain. Lots of pain.
And then the answers started coming in. From wiser, older women. From God. From experience.
Now, here's what I do when life's tsunami's hit:
- If I know it's coming, I throw all the hard core teaching up front in the year. We buckle down for months of really intense language/spelling lessons, math, and whatever else they're likely going to need lots of one-on-one focused attention.
- ALWAYS have a treasure chest full of self-teaching books, activities, and supplies. Workbooks a little under grade level, Usborn books on various subjects, documentaries, books that aren't too challenging but still at their level, puzzles, math games, and classics and other heavy reading on cds are all on my school shelves now. Even when plans are thrown completely out the window, I know they have lots on hand to keep learning! (I just found a new FREE resource for those of you who need it. It's www.booksshouldbefree.com . They have over 3000 books on audio that you can listen to on-line for free!!! No joke folks. Best. Find. Ever. Especially just weeks before I'll have a newborn in the house. Most of them are the classics that frequently get ignored or skipped now-a-days.)
- Relax and Trust. I realized over time that there are MANY forms of learning. If you'll relax and ride each wave, trusting that it was planned by our creator, it's much easier to enjoy the ride. When we went through the hurricane, there were forms of learning that we could have never replicated. Our children saw us rip away sheetrock and peeked in between walls, walked on cold concrete where carpet had been warm under their toes, sat at the table with a small group of people around a real kerosene lamp (the only source of light for the evening), ate army meals for days, and ran around as a line of neighbors barbequed together and exchanged food. They saw store shelves empty of everything but bags of chips, registrars only accepting cash without the ability to give change, electric lines bent so far down you had to switch lanes to avoid hitting them, and realizing that everything important in life fit into one small car. They saw people laugh and smile through loss, help their neighbors, and sleep whole families to a room. It was learning at it's BEST! When babies come, they learn everything first hand all day long!! They learn to change diapers, that clothes have to be washed differently, how much babies really sleep and cry and poop, that babies don't like to be held that way. My children were there as I progressed through labor. They were there to see baby's first smile, laugh, roll-over, and hear his first word. And they will be there to help potty train. No book can teach you these things! My children were there all day, every day, for the months of healing after I broke my leg, to watch as I learned to walk again on a broken ankle. They learned to do chores I never thought they were old enough for, like running the washer and dryer and fixing my coffee. I ate sandwiches that I dared not complain about as they learned. They memorized the names of the bones in our body. They saw how pain meds can make a person act very "weird" and tired all the time. They saw their daddy take over all the dinner cooking that was done. They grew in responsibility as they had to bring me all of their school for weeks, couldn't depend on me to hop up and find things for them, and made their own cereal and sandwiches. Learning is not stale and stagnant. It is moving, growing, and changing with us! There are no substitute Mommies to take over. Life Happens and it's really a good thing.
- I whittle it down and then whittle it down again, to the very basics of school and chores, so that life can be as unstressful as possible. We no longer quit when life throws us waves. We just hold on tight and do whatever it is we can day to day. We have a moment, do some math. I only have one hand and the baby's nursing, but I can listen to you read now. I have to cook dinner, but you can work on those workbooks or trouble spelling words.
- Then, after all of this, I also realize that PLAY is really important, too. And in these times, when I can't, I just can't. I let them play for long periods of time. If it's nice outside, I make them get out in it to play. And I try and make sure that they're truly playing, not just watching t.v. or playing on a screen.