So I started this year with a plan to write posts about certain themes in certain months and January was to be the month of homeschooling posts… and February… well I have a fabulous friend who so persistently asks me to write about organising… that was February’s theme… and now it is the 22 February and not an organising post in sight. I choked!!! I planned to do a tour of our school… and then move onto organising about three weeks ago… But there is a shelf of chaos that I kept meaning to sort out before I did the school tour… never got to it. Folks that is how organised I am… We are almost mid-way through our school year and the shelf of school material that I have yet to sort out, let alone use!!! So a couple of homeschool posts before I write about organising in March…
Blessed relief, I can put off organising that shelf another week and this post on distractions let out of my keyboard… it had to be written!!! We recently posted about a typical school day, A Homeschool Day in the Life of Se7en + 1… When I began writing that post I realised that there really is no such thing as a regular day and every day is slightly different, and sometimes our days are wildly different. That is the point of having a rhythm to your day, something to fall back on when your day takes a turn away from your good intentions. I have learnt not to worry about the things that slide us from our typical school days and look at school at a week at a time or sometimes even longer. In the scheme of life a lot of things are more important than school… I know, shocking truth… but here we go:
Se7en + 1 Distractions of a Homeschool Mother and Things I Wouldn’t Tell My Kids:
- I Cannot Interrupt a Good Game:
- I Cannot Interrupt a Good Book:
- I Cannot Resist the Great Outdoors:
- I Cannot Resist an Adventurous Outing:
- I Cannot Resist a Great Interruption and a TimeOut with Friends:
- I Cannot Resist a Great Distraction and a Bit of Research:
- I Cannot Resist Our Own Interruptions:
- But I Totally Can Resist The Internet For Hours on End:
I cannot disrupt children that are playing well together and the more complicated and involved the game… the better. I firmly believe that playing is far more important than workbooks. The work of children is in a word: Play. I can actually sit with a child during a quiet moment and help them get through their math exercises. But I cannot every replace the hours they spend together constructing complicated LEGO cities and intricate DUPLO landscapes with animals migrating… over the kitchen table and out into the yard. I know to us it may look like just a child’s game but to our children this is work and can take entire days… Something in me just cannot believe that the things my children learn by playing these kinds of games could ever be more valuable than a page of addition sums.
If I child is lost in a book then I consider it a giant “do not disturb button” on their heads… I know the joy of reading a book from start to finish. Just the other morning a child was curled on the couch reading Corrie Ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place. So that kid was somewhat late for scheduled school… in fact he only glanced up at lunch time and went straight back to reading. Some books are so important that one simply cannot interrupt them. I know my kids often read a book, till it is finished, by torchlight, I know they love a good book. Because of that I have made sure that their school work consists of a lot of reading of really fine books… we use Sonlight for a reason!!!
I cannot resist a trip to the beach or up the mountain or any outdoor experience… I have a feeling my kids learn more from a walk on the mountain and stopping every now and then to look around than they will ever learn by sitting at the table. No we don’t take special equipment and endless notebook tools, we just go. You know often friends with kids in school are appalled that on a school day we head for a run on the beach. But honestly just because we homeschool doesn’t mean that my kids spend twelve hours a day at the kitchen table labouring over school books, somehow if they were running races around the track and there was a coach with a stopwatch it would be better… but actually… races to the lighthouse one or two mornings a week is good exercise and fun and totally worth running a little later with school on those days.
Sometimes our day gets delayed by friends, saying lets take the day off on an outing. Now, I know some folk think that homeschoolers spend their weeks traipsing from one educational outing to the next… but in our school we don’t actually!!! It is a rare treat and just like when I was in school we visited a museum once or twice a term, my kids get the same privileges… we don’t always book it months in advance and we don’t always take clipboards and fill in worksheets… but generally we grab camera’s and collect pamphlets and add a few pages in our journal when we get home.
We do drop parts of our school day when we need too… Households are full of interruptions, but that is just what they are… interruptions. And they are not usually days and days off school. If we are interrupted for a particular reason, taking the car in for repairs again or a friend desperate for a sitter… I just see it as another opportunity for our children to learn or to serve… either way… interruptions tend to be a fantastic reason to interact with other folk and that’s always a good thing!!! Honestly if we miss a morning or two of school we can catch it up…
This sort of distraction is called a rabbit hole and I have to say that as we learn about a topic and something else peaks our interest… I am happy for my children to pursue it. From my own experience, things that distract me have often turned out to become things that are really important to me. When I was in primary school we had to do a project on Great Britain: Don’t die of excitement: coal mining and sheep farming in a country I had never been too… not exactly riveting stuff to an eight year old and I remember none of it!!! But I did decide to write a letter to the Queen, and I got a reply!!! And that sparked a life-long love of writing real letters to real people all over the world. Yes I am all for distractions!!!
I have to be honest and say that because we do quite a bit of school around the kitchen table my kids interrupt each other a fair bit!!! If I am working with one child and ask for an example of alliteration… I can guarantee you I will get eight examples!!! Similarly if one child is growing a handful of beans for school that we will end up with a veritable jungle of “eight times a handful” of beans growing on the windowsill. This is not a bad thing, whatever job my kids end up working in one day the chances are high that they are going to share an office, work around a table… share ideas and get the job done – no matter what their co-workers are doing.
And the se7en + 1th
So many of the distractions in our school day have been my own, like checking my phone for an email. What I have discovered is how much I get done every time there is a power failure or the internet is down and how much I enjoy it. It is a magical gift of time. Projects completed, cupboards in order, school done timeously – a particular shelf not necessarily sorted!!! So I had this epiphany and I imposed a self-inflicted power-failure during vast chunks of our day. Gone is early morning computer time and my kids are continuously surprised when I am up and ready for the day and going… and they haven’t had a chance to sneak in a little screen time!!! Like where did their time go – their mother reclaimed it!!!
In the scheme of things school goes on and their are seasons when school seems to consist of more interruptions than actual school… but as my kids always say to me, and I have no idea where they might have learnt this (!!!): ” Are we learning, Mam, are we learning?” and the truth is we are homeschooling is a way of life and certainly what happens around the kitchen table is only a very small part of the entire learning process.