We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Friday, April 25, 2008

7 Habits of a Happy Homeschooler

Habit #1 - Routine is your friend!
Some people like those wonderfully detailed MOTH schedules. I abhor them. But...we do need a routine and if you are a homeschooler, so do you! It does not have to be rigid, but pick a few times of day that can be "hardstops" in your day. Times of day when your family always does certain things.

For example, in the mornings after breakfast we have family Morning Prayer together. (This is part of the anglican "Daily Office" a series of prayers used at different times during the day. We use Anne Kitch's The Anglican Family Prayer Book. Based on the Book of Common Prayer, this book provides wonderful "family-friendly" language and suggestions for use.) We don't always do it at the exact same time, but we do have that routine. Another example, is that we ALWAYS have "read or rest" time after lunch. These are expected routines in our day that help my kids know what to expect when...and me, too!

Habit #2 - Don't answer your phone just because it rings!
I do not answer the phone during school hours. In fact, in our home we rarely answer the phone because we are almost always in the middle of something (school, chores, a meal, a nap). When my phone rings and I answer it, it can easily derail my day. The kids scatter while I talk and then I have to spend 30 minutes corralling them back to their tasks.

So, instead, we listen to the message as the caller is leaving it and if it is truly an important and/or urgent call, THEN and ONLY THEN do we pick up. (Or if Mom just needs some adult conversation!) The next break we have I sit down and return any calls necessary. So, if you have an answering machine, USE it...if you don't seriously consider it.

Habit #3 - Know what you are having for meals each day.
Having a house full of kids all day, every day can mean a lot of time in the kitchen between snacks, meals, and more snacks. They have to eat, so there is no getting around that, but it sure makes life easier when you know what you are having at each meal and for snacks, too.

Dinner is the most important meal to plan, then lunch, and then breakfast, and then snacks. If you can only handle planning for one, make it dinner. http://www.donnayoung.org/ has wonderful planners, including meal planners.

Make sure you know what you are having for dinner each morning. Allow yourself the time needed to do any prep. work, defrosting, marinating, etc. In fact, many times you can get some of this prep. work done during the day rather than waiting until 5:00. Also, make sure you have all the ingredients on hand!

One more note about this - always keep the ingredients for an easy, family favorite on hand. Ours is Tuna Tetrazzini. Everything can be kept in the pantry and needs no defrosting or prep. Other ideas: "Taco Night" and "Breakfast for Dinner". These favorite easy meals are wonderful to pull out when you need to "punt".

Habit #4 - Know how to PUNT.
Ok, you are going to have one of THOSE DAYS at some point in your homeschooling career. If you are a normal person, that might be once a month or even once a week! :) It is important to know how and when it is time to "Punt" - a term that means, "just getting the job done any way you can". Plans fall apart, kids get sick, moms get sick, friends need big favors, etc.

So, how do you know when to "punt"? Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed and "normal" seems beyond your reach.

How do you "punt"? Keep a PUNT plan in your head - maybe even make a special PUNT box. In this box, keep fun, educational games, activities, books, movies. Throw in some special art and/or craft supplies, too, if you like. This is a good time to plan simple meals (like the "family favorite" mentioned above). Remember, kids CAN live on cereal for a day or two if they have to!

Habit #5 - Nurture the Nurturer
Take care of yourself. I repeat...TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Find a hobby or craft you really enjoy and schedule time to enjoy that hobby. Read books and magazines of interest to you - only for you. Spend some time learning something new or researching a subject you are interested in. Arrange to get some time away and alone on a regular basis. For me, I subscribe a few great online and print magazines and journals. I love nothing better than to spend some set-aside time digging into a great article.

Habit #6 - Refuse to feel the need to defend your choice to homeschool.
Sharing your reasons is one thing, but don't feel that you need to defend the whole of homeschooling everytime someone questions or disparages your choice. A simple, "We find it works best for our family and our children," will surely suffice. And if not, just change the subject. "Oh, Norma, have you been doing something different with your hair? It looks just lovely!"

Habit #7 - Find an "accomplished task".
With motherhood and homeschooling, come many, many tasks that are never ending: laundry, meals, kitchen clean up, cleaning the house, planning school, etc. These are not tasks that have a completion point. (Oh, you complete them for one day, but just have to repeat them again later.)

Find an activity that you enjoy and that provides you with an "accomplished task" to which you can point at the end of each day or week or month. For me, this blog is one of my "accomplished tasks". Each post is complete and finalized when I'm done. I do not have to continue to redo and redo those posts. I can look back and see what I've accomplished.

Many creative outlets will provide this also (scrapbooking, painting, crochet/knit, etc).

This post is part of The Heart of the Matter's weekly Meme.


HSB Suzanne said...

Good habits to have. Thank you for sharing your list. I especially like #'s 2, 5, 6, & 7 -- good reminders of things I hope I'm implementing.

louise said...

I love the idea of having a 'punt' plan. With a new baby on the way I will be needing one of these soon!
Thanks for sharing


nannyjayne said...

I may just have to make a literal PUNT box to keep on-hand, myself! (Navy family, one kid hs'd one kid in public who is also special needs - things come up!)

I also agree with #2 - people get so amazed knowing that I have a cell phone....but don't always have it/answer it immediately. There ARE more important things in life!

Stacey said...

I'm one who needs MOTH! :) It's the only way I can do #5 and #7!
Good post!

janet said...

Hi Kerry,

One of my children shares the same name as you, and we live in the piedmont area of NC too.

I really like this post--I think it's a good approach to homeschooling. I particularly like what you stated about not feeling like one has to go through the whole explanation and defense of homeschooling whenever questioned about it--very good point. The Lord has been trying to remind me of this lately.

Thanks for this post!
Janet @ Daily Provision

Emily said...

Great post! I linked it on my blog. :-)

Heidi @ Southpaugh Homeschool said...

WOW!! Those are some fantastic ideas - - especially the PUNT plan!! : )
Thanks for sharing!!