Children are not predictable, have you noticed? You have a wonderful schedule all set up (and you worked HARD on it, well done!!), and first thing you know, your kids are not cooperating with the program. They have questions, they are tired, they don't get it, they don't remember it, they want to go outside, read a book, visit friends, sleep, eat—ANYTHING but what you had scheduled.
And that is frustrating.
Even if they are cooperative with your schedule, children are NOT robots to be programmed. You can not set them on the quick cycle, like you can do a washing machine or a dishwasher. Sometimes they are FAST, and sometimes they are S-L-O-W!!
And that is challenging.
Even if they are cooperative with your schedule and move at a reasonable pace, you live in the 21st century. That means that everywhere you look, people are doing more, faster, better, non-stop, breathless, exhausted than ever before. So, as you try to keep up with the Jones' (probably on Facebook), you are quite likely trying to do more than can be done.
And that is impossible.
So, let's consider the options when it comes to homeschooling with a frustrating schedule.
- You can quit.
- You can rethink what happened.
If you prefer the second option, then let’s revisit what happened as you were trying to keep your schedule:
You planned to read aloud two chapters from Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Well done!! That is a great way to interest your kids in literature, in history, in family-life, in survival skills, you name it. Your kids will listen breathlessly, eyes glued on you, hanging on your every word. Perfect learning situation!!
You had planned 20 minutes for this literature exercise, and when it's over, you are supposed to move on to science. But, after the first sentence in Chapter One, one of your kids says, "Hey, Mom, where's Wisconsin?
So, recognizing that you probably won't keep their interest if you don't answer the questions, specifically where Wisconsin lies, you dutifully pull out the globe and look at America. Your kids, crowded around your table, start asking questions.
"Where's California? Where's Disneyland? Where does Grandma live? Where were you born? Where was I born?" And on, and on, it goes.
Determined to at least read ONE chapter out of the literature book, you, at last, set the atlas down and pick up Little House again. You turn to the second page, and glancing up, you see your kids are listening with rapt attention. GREAT!
But then you read this sentence: "Muskrats and mink and otter live by the streams." One of your children says, "Hey, Mom, what does a muskrat look like??" And someone else says, "Yeah, and what do minks and otters look like?"
Your 20 minutes has come and gone, and you are hoping to salvage some aspect of the science curriculum before lunch, but with the eager and expectant looks on their faces, you just can't disappoint your kids. So, you dutifully pull out that Reader's Digest book on animals that you found at a garage sale, and turn to the index to find an entry on muskrats, minks, and otters.
Once they see the photo, though, they want to hear all about the animals. "What's it say, Mom???"
You end up spending two hours on what was supposed to take 20 minutes, and you feel like such a failure. If only you were "more regimented, more disciplined, better able to keep your kids on track."
Precious friend, I'm here to tell you that you just wildly SUCCEEDED!! Your kids learned geography, science, history, and literature in bite-sized doses, just perfect for children. They also learned that Mom listens, Mom can find answers, Mom loves to learn—a fabulous model for them! You invested the most precious commodities of all—time and love—in the most valuable people in the world.
You did it!! You used your time in the very best way imaginable, and that schedule helped you get to the really good stuff in homeschooling—your kids learned and they LOVED it!
By the way, if you really ARE reading the Little House series, be sure to check out Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder!