Many people begin their homeschooling journey thinking that the most important thing to do is to sort their curriculum. I often hear people who start from a place of wanting to replicate school in the home.
Any long-time homeschooler will tell you this doesn't really work for most people. It certainly hasn't for us. Why? Because home is a whole different beast really. And I mean that in the best possible way ;)
Home is where life happens: where dental appointments, back injuries and chronic illnesses happen. There are lost jobs to deal with, family relationship breakdowns, faulty car engines, meltdowns, fatigue and SO many other things happen to intertwine their ways into our daily life. That IS the nature of life after all! Of course there are also amazing moments of joy, beauty and refreshment in there to balance it all out.
How can learning still happen around those sorts of incidents or issues of life? When you acknowledge that EVERY single moment is an opportunity for learning, you begin to be more at ease with things.
Here are 3 things to do when life happens and how to make the most of connection:
LIVE IN THE HERE AND NOW Acknowledge what you thought should look like at this point. Be honest about it. Hold it up, write it down, think about it but then let it go. For me that means giving it over to God and trusting Him with that particular struggle/challenge/upset/difficulty. For others it may mean writing it down on a piece of paper and burning it, literally and figuratively. For someone else, it may mean allowing themselves time to grieve the loss of a dream. Allow it. And then recognise this season of life that you are in right now. Understand that you are allowed to have different seasons in life. Life doesn't have to look like learning at a table 9-3 in your homeschool.
Learning might, right here at this time, look like waking up much later than you imagine each morning because you have had such a hard night with a toddler who wouldn't settle. That means that everything gets pushed back later. It means that you don't have the energy to go to the gym or the coffee catch up you planned and that's ok. You can give these things a miss. It might mean you put on a load of washing and forget to hang it out. That's ok. You can rewash it tomorrow. Don't beat yourself up. Go gently and kindly with yourself. It might mean that you don't have the energy to go to the museum with your kiddo but it might mean instead that you do a google earth tour yourselves from the laptop. It might mean you have time to build a cubby together on the lounge and that you snuggle in for a read aloud. It's ok. Allow yourself to live in the here and now.
2. CONNECT BY LEANING INTO THEIR INTERESTS
Have your kiddo tell you about the thing they are most interested in. Listen, really listen. Ask them appropriate questions (which shows your interest). Take their lead. Are they keen for you to invest some time sharing in the interest with them? Say they are building a town out of Lego, they may value you asking if you can build something for the town. If they say no, you could always build alongside them. These little actions all communicate the language of connection and interest to our children. One of my sons never really liked me building Lego with him but he loved that I showed interests in his builds. I made a photo album of his builds (which he still likes looking back on). I looked up Lego conventions close to us and took him to them. I found second hand Lego (which any Lego collector knows is like the ultimate lucky dip!) and I would encourage him to borrow Lego books from our library. If he were still homeschooling, I'd connect with with an Outschool Lego class or group. There are always lots of things we can do to connect with our kiddos and using their interests is always a great starting point. 3. BABY STEPS
Connecting with our kiddos doesn't have to be sophisticated, complicated or expensive. We are enough for them. Yep. Just as we are. In the perfect imperfection of our lives: we are enough. Don't be fooled into thinking you need the latest app, course or something-or-other to capitalise on the time we have with our kids. Don't buy into it friend. You have got this and so have your kids. Meet them in this season where they are and with what you can give them. And if you can't? Ask for help. There's no shame in asking for assistance from loved ones. There's also no shame in trying to outsource help if you need that too. Hire a cleaner if you need to (and if it's within your budget). Get a meal box. Take the shortcuts. And leave shame at the door. Don't allow it space in your home or heart. Baby steps in connection with our kids during tough life seasons might look like a lengthy conversation over a slow breakfast. It might look like having your child create a playlist of their favourite music while you travel to and from appointments. It might look like crashing on a the lounge with a bag of popcorn watching their pick on Netflix.
You've got this. Keep connection at the centre of your homeschooling efforts and you are off to a flying start (or middle or end of this journey - wherever you are along the path!) Hugs, Lusi x