Seems apt to talk about the fact that we’ve been stopping at home for a while now, since we decided to home school. I’m probably not typical, most people who homeschool or who are at home with the kids temporarily due to school closures probably haven’t moved to a strange country, where they don’t have family. I don’t mean that to say ‘feel sorry for me’, it’s just the truth of the matter. We’ve moved abroad, I haven’t really been able to get to know many people yet and we’re home schooling which means we spend most of our time around each other and at home.
So, what have I found? I’ve found that J in particular needs routine. If I lapse and let him watch tv in the morning (and I still do sometimes) and let it get late with them still in PJ’s, it just doesn’t work. He gets irritable and upset easily and tries to get me to keep the tv on all day. I have found the J (the elder boy) does seem particularly sensitive to adverse TV effects so I’ve had to limit it. What I find when I do limit it is that they become more creative and inventive and actually keep themselves occupied better. We still watch, but it tends to be an hour prior to tea in the evening rather than other times. We also subscribe to something called ‘reading eggs’ and ‘maths seeds’ so that is also screen time and I have to monitor the time spent on that too.
This is not an advice post to people at home, from what I’ve seen and read, everyone has to develop their own day, style and schedule. Ours tends to be get up, breakfast, play for a short while, get dressed, do some ‘work’ for a couple of hours, such as numbers, letters, sometimes the computer as part of it, interspersed with activity like dancing or singing or playing instruments – something (hopefully fun) that lets off some energy. We then have dinner, I try to have a bit of ‘quiet time’ (so called) after dinner, maybe read and if they’re playing, let them do that for a bit. Then in the afternoon, depending on what we need to do/the weather/what we or they want to do, we may play out, or go out, to parks, the play centre, shopping once a week. I’ve joined quite a few homeschooling groups on face book. The funny part is I’d only just decided to make the effort to try to get to know some of the others (I don’t think there’s normally as many here as there were in Derbyshire) and had booked onto a sports afternoon, when everything was cancelled. So onwards!
What I have found, personally speaking, is the hardest part for me is settling my brain so I’m not constantly trying to rush and think of what I need to be doing/planning next, actually also worrying about what I think I ‘should be’ doing, rather than what we are doing. If I’m always thinking like that, I get really stressed and I can get a bit shouty.. which isn’t good. Just being with the kids whilst we’re doing the ‘work’ seems to be the most important. I call it work, but it’s usually quite fun. What I’ve found also is, if I can give them my full attention during the couple of hours in the morning/early afternoon, it tends to work well for all of us and is better for their behaviour. With the focused attention on J, he has started getting really interested in letters and numbers and drawing mazes and ‘drawing songs’ (see below).
I’ve also recently discovered the kids exercise videos on youtube, they’re great, there’s a 5 minute one which we’ve done and its brilliant to break up the morning. We also do baking some afternoons, we also planted some seeds and just generally hang around each other whilst getting stuff done.
I’ve found the key to getting ‘stuff’ done, like housework etc, is actually planning, but a basic outline of the day, so I’ve got an idea of what I need to do but it means I’m not stressing when I’m doing what I’m doing with them. Also! weekly meal planning, makes life so much easier for us. I’ve also found it’s so easy to be present, but not present when I’m with them and the thing is, they know it! It’s getting easier, but there’s been some horrible days interwined with gorgeous days. The worst days are usually caused by my stressing and my reactions, not so much the kids. The best days are when I relax and just enjoy the time with them.
I obviously get in some bible and talk about Jesus with them, today, we did the story of Jesus and the storm. Basically he gets into the boat with the disciples and falls asleep and there’s a massive storm, huge waves, wind, scary stuff. The disciples wake him up saying ‘save us’ and he tells the storm to pipe down and it does. He then asks the men why they were so afraid? Anyway, we acted it out, J decided he was the boat, so there was a lot of running about and turning round, it was quite loud and quite funny. I’ve also found, if I do a very bad rap to some psalms they’re actually easier to remember :D. No I’m not doing it in public.
It will change, as we go along, life always does and that’s fine, or good even! Keeps us on our toes.
God is the one who keeps me, He keeps me sane, He directs my paths, Jesus is our peace. Sure, you can do it without Him, or rather without knowing Him, but it’s a lot better with Him. What’s been on my mind this week is ‘what is His will in our lives?’and are we living it? Always interesting!