Homeschools come packaged in all sorts and types. We find that homes all have their own atmosphere…their own discipline…and their own life. What will make for happy homeschool days? My vote goes to routine!
As we look at different homes, we find that many people use many instruments to establish discipline in our studies. In our home, we have used primarily two tools…instruction and routine. You can probably see the need and benefits for instruction when you are homeschooling but why routine?
Routine is the means by which we lay down the tracks of discipline. In our family routines, we take away much of the pain of who does what, when they are to do whatever, and how much they are to do. It has become part of our character to do all that we do with excellence…diligence…and of course, speed. Good, solid routines are essential. So, what are some ideas for bringing routine into the home? The following thoughts are a hodgepodge of my thoughts on routine and form that I have jotted down as I studied this month…
• When planning routines, priority is given to the most important things. The most important thing is the spirit of the person. We all need our time with God primarily. If nothing else is done each day, why not the quiet times? Why not family time? Why not read alouds? Yet, aren’t those areas most often neglected? If we value the person the most, we find that our priority becomes that time to talk, read, relax, and even work together. Yes, there is always more work to do than there is time to do it. We must accept that reality while planning the time that we devote to that work around time with God and each other!
• Use lessons to establish habit and discipline. Lessons are the perfect means to establish habit and discipline in the child. Lessons are perfect time to lay the lines of good habits and correct the harmful habits. Through their lessons, they learn skills, practice godly character, learn that there are “musts” in life, and learn to use all of the faculties of their minds. Let the children know what to expect each day. Set up your lessons in a solid daily routine. Just like any other habit, if you will be consistent for 30-45 days, your daily lessons will become a habit and as they become habits, they will become a life-long discipline. Take the time to plan out your daily lesson time. Tweak out any struggles. Get it on a routine. Let the children know what to expect each and every day. Then, turn them loose. They will develop the habits and disciplines that will take them throughout their lives.
• Feel free to alter any given routine!As we go through life, we find that life is so short. The sunny moments simply must be snatched along the way. Even in Charlotte Mason’s schools, she would ring a bell on nice days and set off for an all day expedition! Can we be this spontaneous? Yes, duty calls and responsibilities should be accepted habitually. BUT, all the duty and responsibility is out of balance without the liberty to enjoy life and its spontaneity! Be intentional about enjoying the journey. 🙂
• Remember that it is not essential to have a developmental program for each child. Instead of trying to teach each child on his/her own grade level, we all share in life together. We all learn from life together as fellow students. We are constantly establishing good habits, good priorities, and good routines. We use REAL LIFE, REAL BOOKS, and REAL PEOPLE as the curriculum. Because of this, we can relax knowing that real life, real books, and real people are the perfect teachers–not a program or a scope/sequence. It will be as we go along the way that we will teach the most to our children. If we base what we teach on “grade level,” then we find that our children simply do not thrive and learning becomes artificial and very, very difficult for student AND teacher. Instead, let’s get back to God’s design for eduction. Look at life. Look at what life can teach along the way. An example from our life was a while back when we were in Mississippi for our homeschooling seminar. Almost all of our family lives in Mississippi. As we were getting ready to leave from the Rushton’s home to go visit my Daddy, my son was only listening to a conversation between his great-grandmother and I when God brought forth a natural lesson from life. She was commenting on Matthew’s book Fearless Warriors, when I shared with her that his next book was to be on the Great Men and Women of the Civil War including our family. As she said, “Well, you know that both my grandfathers were in the Civil War!” Matthew darted across the room to sit at her feet and glean from her stories of long ago! He was able to jot down two more stories for his book…and where did it come from? LIFE! It is not essential or even recommended to limit your child to what is learned at their grade level. That whole focus can be eliminated as we homeschool. Instead, focus on teaching them skills to learn and inspiring them with a love of learning. Learn at all times. There are so many treasures right around you at all times. Slow down to learn. Learn as a lifestyle. You will find that the results will influence their routines, priorities in life, and habits for all of life. You will find that they will be able to learn MORE than is possible following a typical scope and sequence. You will find your homeschool more fulfilling while you are juggling less!!
• Use home as the atmosphere for teaching! Charlotte Mason taught that our homes are a perfect “growing ground” for children. Think about that for a moment. As mothers, we can view our children as our little plants that will have to be nurtured in our homes. We will have to pour into them. We will have to devote ourselves to their constant care. We will have to be the ones to snatch up those weeds (harmful habits, attitudes, and ideas) that will quickly grow to hinder or possibly cut off their growth. We are their caretakers. In being their caretakers, we have to devote all to instructing them at all times. It may mean that for a season, we just stay home and pour into them but the results are worth it. We will find our homes bearing great fruit through our children! At the end, that is what we want–great fruit. The home is the best “growing ground” for our children.
• Accept that we are never perfect or there. It is often so hard to accept our own weaknesses, needs, or limitations. We want to be perfect BEFORE we start teaching our children, yet God’s plan entails walking alongside of one another as fellow students in HIS classroom of life. In our routines, we must operate with what IS possible. We are not perfect, but also our feelings or the circumstances all around us do not sweep us along. We are free to grow and learn together throughout all of life.
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