A good homeschool day requires certain elements to be in place; elements that vary widely from homeschool to homeschool. These elements may also vary from one sibling to the next, and also from one day to the next. Simply put, these elements can be broken down into three goals.
1. Be present with your child.
This goal may seem obvious, but sometimes adults get distracted. We may be physically with our child, yet our mind is thinking about the bills to be paid or that phone call that needs to be returned. Our children can sense when we’re just “phoning it in.” It may be better to declare a mommy recess and take care of something than to go through a prolonged period of distracted engagement. Eye contact is one of the most meaningful ways for humans to engage with one another. The next time you find yourself distracted, remember one of your daily goals is to be present with your child and look into their eyes and smile.
2. Encourage the opportunity.
Of course we want to encourage learning. But sometimes we forget that it can be disguised as playing, or sitting quietly in thought, or staring out the window at the birds. Or being outside with the birds. Most of us have heard that playing is a child’s work. It’s one way that they process all of the information that they absorb. Be willing to be spontaneous in your schooling even if that’s not your style. Follow the child. Encourage those unplanned opportunities that present themselves.
Recently I had a terrific homeschool day with my young son. I was distracted by my messy pantry. My mind went through all of the alternatives I had to my normal school plan that would allow me time to clean the pantry. I decided on an American history movie. But first we would need to read about Columbus. But before that we would need to read about Leif the Lucky. (See the link below for these books. ) So we began the first book. We spent four or five hours reading, discussing the detailed illustrations, and taking breaks where he “imagined” while I cleaned the pantry. It was a great day. We didn’t get to the second book or the movie (why did I think we would, or should?) but that didn’t matter. The opportunity for discussion and imagination was beautiful. Oh, and I fulfilled two of my goals.
3. As you fulfill your goals don’t sweat the small stuff.
I don’t know where that saying comes from, but I like it. At the end of the day, what matters in your homeschool is that learning was encouraged in some way, everybody had food to eat and clothes to wear, and your pantry was cleaned. Just kidding about the pantry. I don’t expect you to clean your pantry everyday. What is important is what was accomplished in your child’s mind and heart, not what worksheet didn’t get finished or what book still needs to be read. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for getting done what needs to get done in order to be educated. However, especially in the early years, don’t sweat the small stuff.