Those of us who have home educated our children for years may take for granted some of the simple treasures of homeschooling. Take time to thank God today.
Unhurried awakening each morning.
Your children can wake up on their own, wake up to your smiling face, or wake up to the alarm clock. All methods work. They don't have to be out at the bus stop with their backpacks at 7:00 a.m, as many public school students do.
You can eat breakfast as a family, in shifts, or individually. Whatever works best for your family. Since I am a writer and write best in early morning, we work around my writing schedule. We have YOYO breakfast--You're On Your Own. Everyone gets up and eats what they choose. We first meet together when our school day starts. For special celebrations we have breakfast together. This routine works for us. Find a plan that works for you. (Note: It may vary according to the day of the week).
Choosing school start time.
You can decide what time fits your lifestyle. Some start their daily routine as early as 7 a.m.; others don't start until 10 a.m. or later. There is no magical school start time. It all depends on your family situation. Some families devote more evening time to school; others are 'done' by noon. All these varieties work.
Embracing all learning styles.
Isn't it amazing how God puts so much variety within each family? Homeschooling is a natural environment to help your children identify their learning style as vocal, audible, or kinesthetic. You can also help them identify their siblings' learning styles. (Books at the library (search under 'learning styles') can help educate you and your children about this. One book I checked out (sorry, I don't remember the title or author) had short quizzes to help identify their style). Why is this a treasure? Homeschooling offers your children the gift of primarily learning in their preferred style. They can also learn in each other's styles in non-threatening ways.
You can help your children discover their personality styles. The Treasure Tree (Smalley & Trent), a children's story, identifies the four basic personality types and how each one is important. Your children will enjoy seeing themselves in the story as well as their siblings.
You can also explore your children's love languages. Which of five languages makes them feel most loved: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch? The Five Love Languages of Teens and The Five Love Languages of Children (Chapman) will help your family better communicate love and appreciation to each other.
As we take time to understand and recognize how God made each one of us according to His design, and then put us all together in a family, we can appreciate each other's uniqueness in new ways.
Chair, couch, or floor.
Homeschooling offers variety in learning locations and environment. Some learn best in a chair; others prefer the floor; others like to be wrapped in a blanket on the couch. Some learn best in silence; others need background noise. Library books give information about these kinds of learning preferences (check under 'learning styles'). Observe your children to see what is their preferred learning environment. Is there a lot of space or is it a cubbyhole? Is it bright or dim? Is it hot or cold? Is it inside or outside? Is it quiet or noisy? Are there special items nearby (stuffed animal, blanket, toy)? Ask your children to draw a picture of their favorite place to learn and use the questions above to guide them. Homeschooling gives many options of where to learn. Some of us may be a bit uncomfortable with this, or question whether our children can really learn on the floor or with music playing. We didn't have these options when we were in school. As you give your children freedom to learn in different locations, you may discover some things about your own preferred learning spots!
What joy to be able to work with our children individually! Whether reading together, or doing a math problem, or gardening, or just talking, it is a treasure to be able to interact with our children one-on-one all through the day. Relationships blossom and grow as time is invested into them.
You, the principal/teachers can change the start time, have school late at night, cancel a day, change the direction of study, and respond to life situations. It allows you to take advantage of special learning/life opportunities that weren't in your original plan book, but God is bringing into your life right now. This is much more like life than following a rigid routine. It helps prepare our children for change. It helps them become adaptable. It allows you to take a spontaneous trip. It frees you to demonstrate God's love to someone in need. Flexibility is an essential ingredient in homeschooling!
As you finish (or start) preparing for this school year, thank God for these basic ingredients and celebrate the one-of-a-kind homeschool you have!
Linda Joyce Heaner is a freelance author and speaker. You can contact her at email@example.com.