Punching the Homeschool Clock
As our homeschool year began last year, I found myself faced with a challenging circumstance. For the first time since I began homeschooling my oldest, I now had two official students: a third grader and a kindergartener. Add in a two-year old and my relaxed, go with the flow approach was not working. I didn’t have enough hours in the day to work with my third grader and my kindergartener plus be a mom and everything else.
I needed fresh ideas, a new approach, so I read some homeschool blogs and home education forums, and came across a statement from another homeschool mom where she wrote that she treated homeschooling as a job. While this approach might not work for everyone, it transformed not only our homeschool, but other parts of our home life as well.
1) Treating homeschooling as a job made me feel more confident as a teacher. When you are a teacher in the public school system, you are required every year to participate in continuing education to learn new education techniques and programs. I made the decision to do my own form of continuing education by reading through books about education philosophies and techniques. I try to read at least a few every year. Check out my Pinterest board where I have some of my favorite books I’ve read and some future reading as well to get you started. I love looking at education from different views and philosophies. I usually take something from each of them to apply in some way.
2) Treating homeschooling as a job made our day run more smoothly. Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I worked outside the home like most other women. I got up every morning at 6:00, showered, dressed, ate a quick breakfast, out the door, and started work at 8:00. One of the things I was looking forward to the most about homeschooling was that I wouldn’t have to keep such a strict schedule. However, I went too far in the other direction. I would wake up when I wanted (usually when the kids woke up), we’d eat breakfast, and I’d do a couple of hours of school before I needed to make supper.
With two students to be taught, I couldn’t get by with such a relaxed schedule. I was consistently not getting school finished with one of my daughters. That wasn’t acceptable, so I looked at my day critically through the eyes of an employer. If homeschooling was my job, then I needed to set my alarm accordingly. Get up, get dressed, prepare breakfast, and ready our school work before the kids were awake. When I started doing this I was more efficient, the kids were more efficient, and I could fall asleep knowing I’d accomplished what we needed.
3) Treating homeschooling as a job made the burden of keeping house easier. My big plan when I first started homeschooling was at the end of each day to clean a room in the house, thus breaking up the housework over an entire week. Yeah, right. At the end of a homeschool day plus dealing with a toddler, I was so mentally and physically exhausted the idea of cleaning an entire room in the house felt like torture.
I started thinking about how my own mother, who worked outside the home, handled housework. She did basic maintenance through the week, laundry, picking up, dishes, and sweeping floors. On the weekends we all pitched in and cleaned the house in about three hours. I adopted this attitude in our home. Focus on schooling and basic house maintenance through the week and keep the deep-cleaning for the weekend. This new adjustment in my cleaning routine has worked well, and I stay caught up much more than I did before.
4) Treating homeschooling as a job made motherhood more enjoyable. When you homeschool the lines between teacher and mom are blurred which is actually one of my favorite things about it. At the end of the day, though, I found it difficult to let go of being the teacher and just be mom again. The teacher in me was tired, so I let the mom zone out as well.
When I switched my mindset about homeschooling, I let go of any problems we’d had during the day, either attitude or academic. I had found myself hanging on to those and letting it affect me. Once we closed our books for the day, I gave myself permission to clock out for the day as the teacher and just enjoy my kids. Spending time with them as if they’d been gone all day by asking questions about their day (it’s interesting what they remember as important!) and doing something fun with them after we eat dinner.
Honestly, homeschooling is a job, sometimes very rewarding and sometimes very frustrating. It is also a huge blessing. I was afraid that treating it as a job would make me more rigid and more stressed. All in all when I changed my view of homeschooling it had ripple effects that I never imagined. It brought a different feel and positive energy to our home that had never been there before. If you’re feeling a little out of control this year, maybe punching the homeschool clock would help.