As we savor the remaining moments of summer, and launch a new homeschool year, I'd like to offer some down-to-earth, real-life encouragement to you.
1) You're unique, so don't compare your teaching style with anyone else. We're bombarded with what the perfect mom looks like, what the perfect house looks like, and yes, even what the perfect homeschool looks like --- all of that nonsense! Hey, we're talking real life here, so my encouragement is to make an all-out effort to dismiss those thoughts of perfection, and forge ahead in your efforts to teach well. Forget looking at other homeschooling moms, and blaze a new trail without comparing yourself to anyone!
It's your school and your kids. You know your children best and you love them (with your husband, of course) most of all, so you're strategically suited to be your child's very best teacher! Yes, you are the Best teacher. Let your own unique style emerge as you stay in tune with your budding scholar's particular needs. And that's the wonderful thing about teaching at home, we can offer one on one instruction in an accepting, loving, and encouraging environment. What could be better than that?
2) Stay united with your husband. If you do most of the teaching, keep your husband informed and updated on what the kids are learning. When we keep the lines of communication flowing, we're vicariously teaching our kids to be good communicators, too. So, it's all about keeping your relationship with your husband as the #1 priority, and modeling to the kids what it means to speak effectively, and what it means to have a close relationship.
If your husband does some of the teaching, great! Still, make sure you take time for your marriage. Talk. Do things together, whether it's taking a stroll around the block, going to get coffee, or planning something special for just the two of you. I mentioned to you in previous blogs that during the homeschooling years, Jay and I walked on most days after he got back from work. I liked to take a deep breath after teaching, knowing that he and I needed that time to connect, decompress after a long day, and enjoy some fresh air together!
3) Get enough rest. This sounds so simple, but seems impossible at times! I understand that if you currently have babies and toddlers in the house, you might be asking me to get real. (I remember when the twins were toddlers, so I know that this whole sleep thing/ idea is a huge challenge!) All I'm saying is to do the best that you can to take care of yourself. You're valuable and influential as a mom and a teacher, which makes it important to operate at your peak level physically, cognitively and emotionally. And a good night's sleep does a world of good for all aspects of living! Ask your husband (and perhaps older children) to help with the little ones (baths, putting the kids to bed, that sort of thing).
4) Teach the kids to pitch in with the chores. I realize that this depends on the ages of your kids, of course, but the general idea is to enlist help when the children are old enough to assist. Whether it's folding towels, unloading the dishwasher, or making their own beds; every bit of effort helps.
5) Say "no" to activities that overload your schedule. I really disliked being in the car too much, so I simply opted out of activities that would keep us on the road all the time. I realize that everyone's different, and that every family has a different dynamic as to how many outside things they can handle, so it's all about finding balance.
I tried to stay aware of my own stress level, knowing that being away from the house too much resulted in wearing me (and the twins!) out, and ultimately translated to a not-so-nice teacher, and not-so-pleasant students. I knew of moms that somehow coordinated outside activities effortlessly and beautifully, so maybe this was just me. This area was a particular challenge personally.
I was very protective of the dinner hour, wanting the whole family to sit down together for a nightly meal and some lively conversation. So I really had to protect that, to make it a priority for our household. I don't regret it because that's when we truly connected, shared thoughts, ideas, and entered into some great dialogue...
Enjoy the upcoming year of homeschooling! The days will surely fly by quicker than the blink of an eye, so treasure every moment that you have.
God bless you!