How to Homeschool Well: Let the Fun Begin!
I like having fun, especially with kids. A few years ago, when describing one of my classes to the principal of a school where I taught, I caught myself using one of my favorite expressions: “We have a lot of fun in there!”
She smiled and replied, “I believe it.” She knew me well.
My husband and I joke that my mood ring is permanently purple, the color of passion. I do tend to be passionate about most things. My family expects that mom is usually up or higher, but I’m sad to say that they have seen my other side, too!
I hope that my tombstone will read something like SHE HAD FUN. Seems frivolous, but not really. We honor the Lord by embracing life–by using our gifts, enjoying people, squeezing the goodness out of our experiences and consciously living in the centre of God’s will. Whether our circumstances are pleasurable or not, we can be content and offer praise. In the midst of it all, we can and should have a lot of fun. Think of it as teaching life skills. What could be more valuable than learning to enjoy life!
Does that mean that we have to make learning a laugh a minute, to always entertain our kids so that they never grumble about their work? No, of course not. It does mean that we should model right attitudes and teach them that even disagreeable tasks can be done with a thankful heart. There is nothing thrilling or hilarious about a math lesson, cleaning the toilet or dusting (man, I hate dusting!), but lighthearted people take those tasks in their stride and quickly get on to the more exciting parts of their day. I once had a bitter friend who resented scrubbing the toilet so much that she kicked it each time she cleaned it, which seemed silly to me. There’s no need to kick the toilet. It will be dirty again next week!
Sadly, when I was homeschooling, worries and frustrations often took my smile away. The demands of my life routinely sapped my strength and joy. At those times I became an ogre, barking orders, nagging and grumbling.
We need to lighten up and give our kids and us time to be silly and non-productive. Recess is not an option; it’s essential for you as well as for them. So are holidays. Schedule some regular goof-off days. Just don’t get into the habit of canceling school on a whim, either theirs or yours. Plan for those days of rest; they’ll be more precious. Give yourself permission to kick back and enjoy!
You also need to take time for yourself, to have fun apart from the daily grind of housework, childcare and teaching. I hope that you are involved with other home educators, either in an organized support group or casually with a few friends. We need to spend time with like-minded people and learn to laugh at ourselves.
I remember a skit that another mom and I performed with our children for talent night at a homeschool support group. It was hilarious. I still laugh when I think of it. I was the frumpy homeschool mom dressed in an old robe, my hair askew. I had slept in and was feeling lazy. Kids littered the stage; the house was a disaster.
The kids suggested making pancakes. I feebly mentioned that we were running late, we should get to our schoolwork, but hey, we hadn’t done science in quite awhile. Why not make pancakes as an experiment! (That was so close to home, I blush to remember)
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. It was our homeschool facilitator, the dreaded MRS. HOOKNOSE! To the horror of my kids and me, I had forgotten our appointment! She was ridiculously strict, her glasses perched on the end of her nose and her hair tied back severely in a bun. She hugged a clipboard to her chest, carried a huge ugly black briefcase and held a pen in the air as if she were about to strike. Her voice was high-pitched and she clicked her tongue and glared. I was mortified and nervous.
Ironically, today I work as a homeschool facilitator and I find myself in the role of Mrs. Hooknose! What a shock! At least that’s how I feel some days, and at times I’m sure that’s how others perceive me. I sometimes recognize that nervous look and uncertain tone when I’m talking to moms and I wonder if they aren’t feeling the way that I felt in our skit. Sometimes I have to pull myself aside and say, “Lighten up, Hooknose!”
As we begin the final stretch of this school year, let’s remind ourselves that this too shall pass and that it’s okay to have a little fun. We all need to lighten up. Nothing is perfect, but we are trying to do our best. We don’t always succeed, but hey, tomorrow is another day. If we want to homeschool well, then let the fun begin!
Dianne Dachyshyn is a freelance writer and a motivational speaker who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She works as a home education facilitator, helping homeschooling families plan their programs and deal with challenges. Dianne is passionate about teaching children to write. Visit her website at HomeschoolWell.com.