Home schooling often places the primary teacher in a unique situation. Rarely, does one have to balance a personal relationship along with a more structured relationship. When the girls were younger, I really didn’t think there was a difference, but as they age and the work becomes more involved I have noticed there is a distinction between teacher and mother. Now some may argue that shifting between the two isn’t required because I am equally both. Although I am always their mother, there are times where I have to show more discipline as their instructor/ facilitator while there other times when I have to say academics can wait due to more pressing personal needs.
Some of the ways I balance between being the primary educator and mommy to my daughters include:
Setting specific times for school work. We do not allow our school day to drag on nor do we start our books when the mood hits. We tend to school in the morning because the girls enjoy going outside in the afternoon, but if they were evening people then we would probably school later in the day. Either way, I believe in having certain hours set aside for completing our lessons. We tend to school between the hours of 9 and 3. We don’t always start at 9 and we don’t always end exactly at 3, but we do what we need to do between these hours. I appreciate the flexibility of homeschooling, but I also find it important teach them diligence with time. It’s one resource we cannot get back.
Staying in tune with the needs of the learner. I am keenly aware of my daughters’ emotions. They do not always tell me right away when something is bothering them. If I notice something is off with them, I am persistent about getting them to talk. We are all similar in this way. If we are holding something in, it affects us in all other areas so when I notice they are off we pause on doing schoolwork whether it’s for 15 minutes or a day.
Be intentional about doing things together outside of lessons. It is very easy to say, “We spend all day together though.” Although we are at home with our children all day most days, this doesn’t remove us from spending time doing things outside of lessons together. A few things I do with my daughters include exercising, taking long walks, coloring together in our cute little faith-based coloring books, playing games, and sitting on the porch simply chatting.
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Scheduling breaks as needed. Before we start our new year of learning, I mark the calendar with breaks throughout the year. Again, I believe being intentional with time makes teaching at home less stressful. Life happens so some breaks can sneak in without warning, but if life doesn’t happen you should have breaks scheduled. Be realistic about how many weeks or months you can teach your children without crashing. We go 6- 8 weeks before taking a week break. Our summer break is 6 weeks long which allows us to have more breaks throughout the year. We also school lightly on Fridays.
Schedule breaks for alone time. We all need moments to recharge. It is important to pencil in time for self. This is not being selfish, but instead it is being proactive. Each day I find a way to do something that I enjoy; just the same I teach the girls to do things that they enjoy by themselves. I often take time to read a YA fiction novel, create jewelry, write, or I will just watch an episode of a Different World on Netflix because that show always makes me laugh.
Being a mother and teacher at the same time can be overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Stepping back to reflect can often right the ship before it tips over.
Be gentle with yourself.
Be honest with yourself.