Houseplants and Homeschools and Normal Homeschool Moms
It’s only December and the geraniums are pouting, the mandevillas are climbing everything they can reach, and the hibiscus persists in drooping. If I hadn’t left the begonia on the front porch too long, it would be shedding leaves and blossoms everywhere. How does this happen to me every year?
As I made my rounds with the watering can, I realized that my lament sounded an awful lot like some of what I used to think about homeschooling. Right about the time the weather turned cold, the new had worn off the lesson plans, all the interesting books had been read, and all that was left was squirming and math, not necessarily in that order.
How long does it take to reach that “whose bright idea was this anyway” point in your homeschool year? If you’re a first-year homeschooler, you may feel a bit alarmed when it happens. You may even feel like a “bad” homeschooler. I know I did, but that was only until I realized it was happening every year, and every other homeschooler I met seemed to be having similar thoughts.
For what it’s worth, it’s normal to have these moments. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed on some days, and it’s normal to wish for peace and quiet. Here are a few things you can do to make “normal” bearable:
Establish daily quiet time for everyone in the family. Give each person a different room or special spot, and let them do any activity that is noiseless, such as reading, building with blocks or other construction toys, writing, drawing, listening to a story with headphone. The rule is that they must have gathered any necessary objects before QT, and they must not leave their spot once QT begins.
Try a different school schedule than usual. I have a few alternatives listed in this post.
Teach a creative handcraft such as crochet, knitting, drawing, carving, calligraphy, or anything else that’s quiet and creative. If you don’t know any, find someone or a video to teach you, and learn along with your children. Creativity helps brains develop and helps to relieve stress.
Try to do writing assignments using content from other subjects. For example, rather than assigning a paper to practice the essay format and also assigning a history report, assign an essay on an appropriate history topic. This is usually much more valuable to the child, and it condenses the learning day to a more manageable length. (Charlotte Mason advocated SHORT lessons, and she was right.)
If you’re planning for the holidays, start incorporating bits of the planning into the school day. Let the children help with baking and gift wrapping or whatever other duties arise in connection with the celebration. They learn from all of it, and you can make good memories in the process.
Take a complete break between semesters. If everyone is weary of school before the break, it doesn’t make sense to drag it into the time that is supposed to refresh their minds. You need a break as well.
Remind yourself why you’re homeschooling. Read a few good books on the subject, and learn how others have done it, and refresh yourself with new ideas.
Finally, remember that “the sweetness of lips increases learning” (Proverbs 16:21). Learn to work with your own body’s cycles of energy, and get as much rest and good nutrition as possible so that you can be sweet with your children. What you do every day doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you make them feel. I wanted my children to know, feel, and believe that I loved them unconditionally, because I believe it helps them understand how the Lord can love them, even when they aren’t perfect.
I get tired of taking care of houseplants during the winter, but I enjoy the blossoms and the green leaves when it’s grey and dreary outside. That’s the reason I find myself, watering can in hand, almost every winter, wondering why I do this. The answer has always been, “Because it’s worth it in the long run.” And that’s the same answer I’d give about homeschooling. I’m very, very thankful we were able to complete the journey, and I hope you’ll be able to complete it as well.