When Homeschooling Doesn't Fit Your Mold

When we set out to homeschool, often we paint this picture in our head of how it will look. But reality sets in as we chase toddlers and have to fight bad attitudes.

When we set out to homeschool, often we paint this picture in our head of how it will look. But reality sets in as we chase toddlers and have to fight bad attitudes.

The Initial Picture

When I first began homeschooling back in 2004, I had the ideal picture in my head. I also had only 2 children, one of whom was actually doing any sort of "school work" by the age of 3.

In addition, my first born was (is) a very eager learner and quickly punched through any workbook I placed in front of her. So, by the time she turned 6, we switched to something more robust and challenging: Tapestry of Grace. She rose to the occasion.

Coming up behind her was her younger brother and a one-year-old tornado. Thankfully she started off as a rather independent learner.

The Reality of Homeschooling

When my children were young, I would often have the youngest children running around in the background as I try to teach my older children. They didn't stay engaged very long, and when they did, they made a rather large mess by the end of teaching my lesson.

There are just some things I cannot control and I have to be OK with that. As someone who came from public schools, it's all I have to go off of on how "school" is supposed to look and it has taken a long time for those walls to come down and realize that learning can be done in more than one way.

So, having said all that, the ideal I had in my head to teach my children the same things, at the same time, from the same curriculum just doesn't happen. My children have different needs, learn at different levels, and with different methods. That makes for a rather interesting day of school!

No two days look alike around here, despite my carefully planned out schedule.  The schedule simply cannot account for a child "not in the mood" to do their lessons, a child who gets sick, tired children who've had a long weekend, or distracted children. I mean, really, the list can go on. And with seven children, it's rare we have a smooth day of school.

Check Your Expectations

I think it's important, in order to set ourselves and our children up for success, to accept the fact that our expectations may be too high and to take things as they come. That's not to say we shouldn't plan, but the plans will get messed up and we can't just throw our hands up when that happens. We simply need to adjust ourselves to that reality and work from that place.

Today, I am getting over a cold that has knocked me down these last couple of days. I am still not feeling 100% myself, therefore I cannot perform optimally. In addition, I have not yet been to my friends to pick up our next set of books for the next unit in our Tapestry studies. In light of this, I am adjusting our week accordingly.

christin slade_When Homeschooling Doesn't Fit Your Mold

Thankfully, we just made a great library visit over the weekend, so the children have plenty of new, good quality books to dig into. And because I'm still lacking energy from being sick, I am only focusing on the most important things today. For example, since we aren't leaving the house today, I am not enforcing everyone to get dressed. We can declare today a "pajama day".

On top of all that, reading aloud is often a nightmare because I am always telling someone to "Shhhh". Math consistently puts someone in tears. (Including me at times). Writing, my own favorite subject, is a subject I struggle to teach--especially at varying levels.

Bad attitudes are a norm (I know, they shouldn't be, but I can only encourage good attitudes, not force them). Despite the fact that I've created a schedule and chore chart for each child, I am constantly telling them what they are supposed to be doing. This is all part of training which is an integral part of homeschooling. This is all the reality of homeschooling.

The sooner I accept the fact that homeschooling isn't perfect because people aren't perfect, the smoother our days will go. It's ok when everything doesn't go exactly the way I plan. The goal is to keep moving forward and pressing on.

Homeschooling isn't meant to look perfect, it's meant to serve a purpose, and that purpose will be defined by each family.

For more imperfect homeschool days, visit the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

Favorite Homeschool Resources

14 Activities for Children That Don't Include Television

Looking for some ideas for your children that don't include television? Here's a list to get you started.

While the TV in moderation isn't inherently bad. Watching it excessively can have it's downfalls, for sure. And what about those times when we don't have access to a television? Maybe the power is out or the repair man had to take your TV for a few days? Or maybe you're camping--oh wait, most people have TV's in their campers these days. 

But wouldn't it be nice to just shut it down for a while to allow our brains to breathe a bit? Sometimes we are so overstimulated, we don't know what to do with ourselves when the TV is not available to us. Believe me, I am completely guilty of this and experienced such a sensation last night. 

While this list is far from exhaustive, it will point you in the right direction and get you started.  Some of these require you spending time with your children while others are more independent.

14 Ways to Engage With Your Children 

1. Bake

My children love to bake. I typically allow them to do so if they agree to clean up their own mess. Sometimes I'll stand close by to supervise while other times an older child will assist. Baking is a great way to learn measurement and cooking skills!

2. Board/Card Games

How about a good, old-fashioned game of Clue (Clue Jr.), Connect Four, or Brain Quest? Or Go Fish, Skip-Bo, Uno? Games are fun and many of them teach strategy skills. 

3. Play-Doh

I love Play-Doh, and so do my children!! It's inexpensive and there are endless creative ways to use it! As long as I keep it stocked, my children will use it. You could also make your own by doing a quick search on Pinterest for some tried-and-true recipes!

4. Go to the Park or For a Walk

If the weather is favorable, you could pack a picnic, a frisbee, a jump rope or other outdoor toys and make a day of it! But even just an hour or two away will be enough for a dose of fresh air and worked muscles.

5. Write a letter

If the weather isn't so favorable, perhaps your older children could write a letter to a friend or relative out of state. There are so many benefits to this simple act. They will practice their letter writing skills (something that's a bit of a lost art today with email), while letting a loved one know they are thinking of them. A younger child could draw a picture and dictate a letter that you write out for them. What a wonderful way to show someone they care!

6. Draw/color/paint

I admit, I'm not quick to allow paint. It makes a HUGE mess and can just feel too overwhelming most days. But drawing or coloring are often big hits around here. Especially if there are new {quality} colored pencils, markers, or crayons to do it with. Unfortunately, cheap colored pencils or markers don't make for pleasant drawing or coloring. It can be frustrating to be drawing and the pencil lead constantly breaks. Crayola is a good way to go! If you have a budding artist and want to take it up a notch, go with Prismacolor

7. Clean

You may not need to utilize this idea unless there's a lot of whining and complaining going on. But I encourage you not to be afraid to have your children help you clean the house regularly. It doesn't have to be the whole house, all the time. But maybe washing windows one day and cleaning out the bathroom sink another day. These little tasks go a long way--not only in keeping your house clean, but also in training your children how to clean. A trait they will need before they eventually move out. Trust me, you don't want to wait until they are teenagers for this. By then, it's nearly too late. Start them young. 

christinslade_14 Activities for Children That Don't Include Television


8. Read Together

Grab a book and read aloud! These are some of our best times together! We've read missionary stories, literature books, historical fiction, sci-fi, and more! It's a great opportunity for enjoying the unfolding of a story with our own imaginations. You can even allow your children to draw, color, or play with Legos while you read. As long as they are quiet. 

9. Read the Bible

I suppose it should go without saying, but it's always a good time to read the Bible! You can read to your younger children from a great children's Bible 

10. Build a Fort

Kids LOVE to build forts and then play or read inside of them. We have Fort Magic which allows for some pretty amazing creations. But sometimes, they are just as content to use their bunk beds or a couch!

11. Listen to an audiobook

Maybe you have a child who doesn't love to read. You can borrow books on CD from the library or buy audio books for them to listen to. My children have enjoyed hours of listening to The Chronicles of Narnia, Adventures in Odyssey, The Bridge to Terabithia and more! 

12. Have a dance party!

If you have Just Dance, you can utilize that and have a dance-off. If not, that's okay, too!! Just put on some music and have some fun! This is especially great on a cold or rainy day! It helps to keep those weather blues away. 

13. Remember all those toys they have?

I often remind my children they have a basement full of toys when they come to me saying they are bored or have nothing to do. I think having too many toys can actually be a hinderance to children's creative play.

14. Let them be bored.

OK seriously, this isn't as bad as it sounds. It's actually good for children to be bored. It helps them develop their own imagination and creativity.

What ideas do you have for activities outside the television? Share your ideas in the comments!