By Amy Vickrey, MSE
In the last few months I have gained responsibilities and had my time shortened to a few hours in which to homeschool. All of this time is in the morning. My son is not a morning person. He is an early riser, but prefers to use his morning engaged in his own interests and definitely NOT in school work. When I can give him the morning to pursue his own interests (which usually includes building with blocks, playing with toys and his brother, and reading), schoolwork is typically easier to accomplish in the afternoon. Knowing this makes me feel SO GUILTY when I simply do not have the time to accommodate the schedule that I know makes him a better student.
So, when I can’t accommodate his preferred schedule, I find creative ways to help him with continuing to make progress despite our limited time.
Here is what I have found works for us to remove my homeschooling guilt:
- We homeschool year-round so we can take breaks as needed and move at a slower pace.
- I use therapy time as part of our school day.
- I communicate with therapists about the schoolwork he is doing, what is successful, and what is not so that they can help support the deficits too.
- I utilize caregivers to help get schoolwork accomplished and even creatively integrate science and social studies topics into his day. (My sister in law is working with him on Minecraft and researching unit studies to use with the game.)
- I encourage science experiments with the OT, even getting cousins involved when they are over.
- I have found ways for him to be involved with swim classes, tutoring (counts as his school for that day), and even a robotics class!
- On days when we have more time, I utilize his checklist to ensure we touch on subjects that get put on the back burner on busier days.
- I remind myself that 5 minutes of direct instruction on a subject is better than an hour spent struggling on his own. I rotate the subjects I focus on for the day and keep to the most vital ones to maintain and increase skills.
- I put things intentionally in his path for him to explore other topics in science and social studies. I work to create a love of learning and a desire to gain new skills. (Check out 7 Tips for Cultivating Lifelong Learners).
- I utilize time on weekends to catch up when the week has been extra busy and full of appointments.
- I incorporate fun activities with the basic subjects whenever time allows to keep learning interesting and fun.
- I encourage independence and use rewards whenever possible, even if it is just stickers to say “Great Job!”
- I look for activities that cover more than one skill at a time in order to combine skills and save time. (Unit studies are great for combining skills. Check out D.M. Spence’s article on creating a Unit Study.)
- I GIVE MYSELF GRACE! I recognize that I cannot do it all, and I cannot do everything all the time.
- I remind myself of the reasons I homeschool. By keeping focused, I can get through the tough days, and I know that someday I will look back and see God’s hand guiding me through these tough days into easier ones.
Whatever life brings, we all struggle with scheduling guilt at times. By being flexible, creative, and patient, we find that we can get to the other side and still see the progress that has been made, even if it is slower than my impatient self would like it to be.
Even with a busy schedule and limited time, the benefits of homeschooling are present, and I am thankful everyday for the ability to work my schedule in such a way that I can continue to give my sons what they need most – a safe, loving, caring environment to grow and someday become the men they are meant to be.