Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Value of Homeschool Organization

I have a tutoring job for next year if I want it. It would involve schooling the child for a couple of days a week like I did several students last year. I'm not sure if I want to do that. This lady has asked me because she feels overwhelmed with her day and even though she has home schooled this child for the last 6 years she is feeling very inadequate. This, along with my emails and comments I hear from friends, makes me wonder why people feel so unable to home educate their kids.

I want to take a closer look at this. There is one thing that must be admitted right off the top and that is that school will take a huge chunk of your day. On the other hand that doesn't mean you have to let it bury you.

I have a sister who homeschools 12 children and has been homeschooling for 20 years! I have another sister who home schools 9 children and has been doing it for almost that long.

What is the secret to successful homeschooling? That is the question I get most often.

Large families are finding success because they are not reinventing the wheel. They found what worked and went with it. Do not be lured by all the boxed curriculum and all the wonderful glitter and glam that is being sold for homeschoolers. Teach reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic and your child will be fine.

Two statements people make to me all the time are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum; "I positively could not do everything you do in a day" and the other one is this, "I could do it too if I only had 2 kids." I find myself bemused every time I hear those things. I am here to tell you all that you can homeschool and run an efficient household whether you have 2 children or twelve. I am also going to tell you that if you are unsuccessful in scheduling your day and homeschool with 12 kids you will be unsuccessful with 2 kids. Does that surprise you?

I'm trying to tell you that the amount of children you have does not determine success in your day.

A disciplined person is disciplined.

An undisciplined person is undisciplined.

Is that so hard to figure out? Do you know something else? Young mothers with 2 or 3 preschoolers is doing more hands on minutely care of her children than the mother with 12 children, that is if the mother of the 12 did her job correctly. You see when you have a bunch of kids the labor is less. The work is more but the labor at mothers hands is less because the older children have been trained to help. So lets not get caught up in numbers. Do not compare yourself with others on the home front or the homeschool front.

Even disciplined people have times when the day doesn't run smoothly.

Monday through Wednesday the children have to be up by 7 am to get out the door by 8:15 because of classes they are taking at the Academy. On Thursday and Friday mornings, days with only afternoon classes away, I have a rule that the kids have to be ready for school by 9:00 am. They get up when they want but the latest they can get up is 8:00 am. That gives them an hour to get ready for school; shower, make beds, eat breakfast, and do whatever else they want to do.

Some days we have been so busy that by Thursday morning, our first day of the week without morning classes, we are just exhausted. If I can tell the kids are still soundly asleep at 8 I will let them wake up on their own. This morning was one of those mornings. Now the problem with getting up an hour later is that it can throw off your entire school day and many will throw their hands in the air and declare they cant stay on a schedule so why bother. Let me tell you a secret.

Younger kids are incredibly unaware of the time. So your child got up at nine? Act as if its eight. Instead of rushing around and not giving them time to wake up and do their morning chores in the normal way just pretend its an hour earlier and do everything the same as you ordinarily would.

Don't give the children 5 minutes to eat breakfast while you shriek at them that once again you are behind schedule and if everyone hurries you will only be 15 minutes late in starting the day. You are setting the atmosphere in your home all wrong and the day will go backward from there.

If you have a child that falls anywhere on the autism spectrum you will know the wisdom in what I have just laid out. Those children like Tink cannot be rushed, They need rigid schedule to thrive. It leaves one to wonder how it effects the "normal" child? Just because the "normal" one doesn't act out does not mean he isn't stressed by your rushing and harsh words. He just has the skills to deal with it. So please, ladies keep the kids on a schedule and realize there will be times you will have to go with the flow.

My children stumbled out of their beds at 8:45 this morning. The 3 day Easter weekend was fast paced and chucked full of stuff for us. Monday morning we hit the road on the run and havent stopped. So I let them wake up in their own time. They got up at 8:45 so that means school begins at 9:45. It barely makes a ripple in our day! They still have their hour to get ready and do their normal morning things.

Now let me hasten to add that getting up late should be a rare thing.

Children need to learn the discipline of arising at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time at night. When your kids get older they will most likely have to punch a time clock. Teach them to be on time now!

Make sure your children know what is expected of them on the household front. What chores do they have to get done and by what time? Have you planned their lessons or are you handing them a book and expecting your 8 year old to go on his own? Even a 6th grader will benefit from knowing exactly what lessons need done for the day or for the week.

This is the time of year that the homeschool mom starts to count pages and see how much needs assigned to end up where she wants her children to be by June or whenever you stop your school year. If you have fallen behind don't assign 10 pages a day in each subject to catch up. Instead figure out a good stopping place and stop; usually at the end of a unit or before a new concept is introduced.

Since teaching school is such a huge part of the life of the homeschool mother you will need to make sure that you are disciplined or the rest of your house will fall apart.

Last week I was talking to a homeschool mom of 5 children, all adopted, and all with learning disabilites. She told me she had gotten up at 2:30 am to get everything done that needed done and that it wasnt uncommon for her to start her day at that time.

Mothers we have grown lazy. We have made excuses. We have bought into the thought that we need our me time. We have been looking at the other side of the fence and thinking we have it harder. We count on each finger all the things we have to do that she doesn't and why that excuses us from discipline.

The following is a little story of a mother with 10 children.

Years ago I visited my sister when she just had 10 kids, nine boys and one girl. You think you have excuses because you have three and someone else only has one? I stayed at my sisters for a week and listen to what she did.

She got up at 5:00 am to prepare for her day. Her boys got up early and went to the barn to milk. She ground her own wheat to make her own flour. This particular morning was no different than any other. Eighty muffins and 3 gallons of milk were consumed at breakfast along with other stuff! She had ground all that wheat to make those muffins. She ground her own corn to make the cornmeal. She sprouted the sprouts.

She made her own yogurt by the gallons! She made all her own cheeses on the back porch, She hung all the laundry on the line to dry; laundry for 12 people. Her home was immaculate all 900 sq ft of it. Yes, she didn't have a huge beautiful kitchen. She had a house of 900 sq ft!!! Do you get that?

She was regimented about school. One room in that tiny house was set aside for the school room. In it were about 7 old fashioned school desks. They entered the school room at 9 am with all the morning chores done; cows milked and fed, kids dressed and fed and all the breakfast put away.

The baby slept in a basket at my sisters feet. The preschooler played with his toys quietly in the corner. They schooled all morning. By lunch time they were done for the day. As the boys grew into highschool ages they were disciplined enough to finish their work on their own in gaps in the afternoon farm work but mothers work in the academic department was done by midday. Then it was on to fixing lunch and the myriad of chores that await a mother of 10 children.

So now would you want to tell me your excuses again? Go ahead. Im listening.


  1. MomMe said...
    Thank you!! Excellent post!

    12:08 PM
    lori said... know this is wonderful wisdom here....I'm a scheduler by nature and it works for's HOW I get done what I get done and have time for those things that mean "alot" to me....outside of homeschooling, like ministry work...It really is all excuses, but I'm afraid we're raising a generation of excuse makers...I just finished my summer article for Heart of the Matter...all on re prioritizing in order to make the fall a better experience. Without the plan the whole train wrecks, and I'm the engineer of THIS train, like it or not:)

    WONDERFUL article! Always a blessing!!


    1:50 PM
    Ganeida said...
    lol. I'm so glad I didn't know you when I had a houseful of littlies; I'd have felt even more inadequate. Over time I've found a way that works for me ~ not too rigid but disciplined enough that the whole place doesn't go to wrack & ruin. I don't do well at discipline. It makes me feel trapped & I become depressed & then I'm no fun to be round at all. I truely need a lot of flexability in a schedule to survive & believe me I've tried the other way.

    2:13 PM

  2. What a busy and fun day, Mrs. Darling! (I wanna try my hand at the rope climbing! I remember that from school, LOL!)

    You deserve a relaxing weekend, mama!!!! (Happy belated Mom's Day!)

    9:48 PM
    Deb said...
    Oh my heck, how DO you do all the things you do? I am your age, but all of my kids are grown. I can't imagine having young children at my age. I just had my first grandbaby in December and I work a full time job outside the home, which keeps me busy enough. Maybe I need to work on time management? LOL

    11:10 PM
    Mrs. Darling said...
    Deb I am going to admit its not as easy as it was when I was younger, But I think you just get in the groove. I have been parenting now for 27 years. If I would have had a break in there I think I might realize how really exhausting it is for an old lady. Parenting after 40 is no picnic. Its hard to explain the difference in energy to some one who is younger. I could work circles around me a decade ago! LOL

    6:00 AM

  3. Good Lord woman I need a vacation just reading that. How on Earth do you stay SANE? I am such a home body that being on the go like that makes me mental.

    How did you go about finding a violin class for Tink?

    9:04 PM
    Mrs. Darling said...
    Because I said so, first I inquired at the schools for violin teachers who gave private lessons through the summer. Then I found one from that list. I then discovered that she taught orchestra at the academy so I changed Tinks orchestra class to the same teacher as her private one. It works out wonderfully because now when Tink doesnt understand something in class the teacher can help her in the private night lessons.

    10:29 PM


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