January 22, 2014

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: Gotta be Flexible

Can you find my next homeschooling essential hiding in the following paragraph?
Kids are sick. The dog ate your teachers guide. You are sick. You lost electricity. You don't have all the supplies you need for the animal cell model you were going to make for Science. Your kids are loving the lesson on jellyfish and want to learn more. Babycakes kept you up all night long. You ran out of coffee and that's not good because you are currently propping your eyelids up with toothpicks. The kids have a horrid case of the Monday's. It's taking you two hours to do a 30 minute math lesson. Your computer crashed in the middle of printing a lapbook you needed yesterday. Your little hesitant reader suddenly took off and is going so fast in the material that you are going to finish your curriculum early. There is a great exhibit coming to the museum that ties perfectly in with your current studies, but you already took a day off from school this week.

Can you see it? What do all these things have in common as relating to homeschooling? They all require you to adjust your plans...
homeschooling essentials flexibility

#3 Flexibility
Now let me stop and say right now. 
I have always been pretty much a go-with-the-flow kind of person. And I always assumed that it would carry over into our homeschooling environment.


It turns out that I have a horrible time flying by the seat of my pants. I like things scheduled so I can tick them off and know I have them done. Up to now I've desired an "open the box and use" curriculum with structure and start and stop times. I've got a calendar for the year filled out with our "free days" scheduled.

Do you see the problem??

Pick ANY of the scenarios in my first paragraph above and we've got a crisis! 

"Ack! I don't have TIME for this!" and "I only have _____ days to get this done!" becomes my mantra! Suddenly my well laid plans and best of intentions come flying back in my face thanks to the merry-go-round called life! 

So what do I do? Throw my schedule out the door? Stop planning things so far in advance? Just give up and take the chips as they fall?

Absolutely...not! If I did that my homeschool would fall apart! Instead I have to "schedule" flexibility into our routine. 

Here's the 4 simple reasons why I have to have flexibility in our homeschool...

homeschooling essentials flexibility list

But, scheduling flexibility...
Isn't that an oxymoron? Well no. I leave myself "backdoors". I have Plan B (and C, D, E). I have a "sick plan" for when I or anyone else in our homeschool is not feeling up to snuff. 

But you know what is the hardest for me? 
Actually USING those things. Allowing myself a measure of grace when I have to be flexible and adapt to changes. I am hard on myself. I don't want to miss a moment of education time. I, for some crazy reason, give myself deadlines to meet, instead of just allowing things to be done when they are done. 

So flexibility is an essential...but it's hard for this mama to do sometimes. Which is when I go back to those four reasons I listed for the need for flexibility.

homeschool essentials flexibility
I have to be flexible because I teach children. Children get sick. Children get bored. Children get excited. Children are slow to change. Children are quick to demand change. Children need boundaries. Children need freedom. I need to feed their interests and guide their work. And sometimes that means I need to put my schedule on the back burner and fan the flames of new discovery...even if it does mean we will be a day "behind" (whatever that means to the homeschool classroom! LOL!)

homeschooling essentials flexible
I have to be flexible because life is crazy. I have no idea what this merry-go-round called life is going to throw at me next, so I have to be able to roll with the punches. I have to be able to make changes. I have to be able to juggle 20 balls at once and then catch the flaming sword that just got thrown in by the peanut gallery. You know, like when you barely have enough time to get home from your co-op day and get all the rest of school done, and then you get stuck in a traffic jam for an hour. So now you have to re-arrange your entire day--perhaps even week. Rigid scheduling doesn't allow for that.

homeschooling essentials day 3
I have to be flexible because I will get burned out. Because the kids will get burned out. I have to play around with the schedule and try new things. Add in new ideas. Follow rabbit trails because it keeps it interesting and fun. I have to recognize when to let some part of a curriculum go...and allow myself grace when I do that! And I have to know when to call a "teacher in-service" day...or when to call it a day after just 2 subjects and let the kids have the rest of the day to just be kids. When I allow for that flexibility, I decrease my burn out--and my children's burn out!

homeschooling essentials
I have to be flexible because that's what I loved about homeschooling to begin with! No manuals telling me exactly what to teach, for how long and when. No testing. Recess can be 15 minutes or an hour. We can do Science all day long or not at all. Tomorrow may be art day and we explore with colors until our paint runs out. We can spend 15 minutes reading a book--or finish the whole thing because we just have to know what happens next. I can take road trips to visit relatives in other states without having to call school officials--and I can throw in extra field trips whenever they pop up without permission slips!

Flexibility is most definitely a homeschooling essential in our family because frankly...it keeps me sane!

So far I've shared that I've got to have love, my laminator and flexibility as our homeschooling essentials...come back tomorrow when I reveal the other must have physical essential on my list and something I use even MORE than my laminator.
5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials
Head on over to our anchor post to see the full list of participants in this week's blog series...or if the thought of 80+ blogs is overwhelming...here is a great group of nine to get started with!

Make sure you get entered in our giveaway for this week--we've got a iPad mini up for grabs which is a great prize and a homeschooling essential for many! You can get entered to win, and because I am one of the co-hosts for the giveaway all of my Facebook fans and email subscribers get free entries (one for each!)! Deadline to enter is midnight January 28th, so don't wait!

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