Finding a system that works
Still giddy from my scheduling success, I dove into the Internet looking for more ideas to improve our homeschool. I found a new (to me) homeschool system that was practically guaranteed to keep my children on task and on topic. I felt a little shiver of excitement zip down my spine as I read.
I do love a good schedule. Our home has been running so much more efficiently since I put ours back together. In our version, the schedule reminds us all of the activities that need to be done. It is a rough guideline so everything gets done in a day. Some items are specific (clean the bathroom), others are more free flowing (choose a writing activity).
As I dug further into this miracle system, I saw that there were workshops to attend, online tutorials to watch. This exciting learning opportunity would take several days of planning to implement. I couldn't figure out what the children were supposed to be doing while I was off learning how to refine my educational system, and my enthusiasm started to wane a bit.
Then I saw the pictures. I beheld the prettiest homeschool room I could have imagined. There were charts with Velcro and color-coded schedules hung neatly on the walls. Zombie-like thoughts filled my brain. Must. Have. Now.
The images on the computer screen and the glowing testimonials made me think for a moment that a higher level of homeschooling was out there, a sort of homeschool heaven, waiting for us. This appealed to that little voice in my head that wants do to things "the right way."
That little voice was soon overcome by the shouts of reality. The budget right now doesn't have room for miles of Velcro, stacks of organizer boxes and color-coded charts. I started to wonder if I could use cardboard boxes and construct charts from paper and markers. It would take longer, but if the system really worked, the effort would be worth it.
And then I remembered. We don't work like that, and no amount of fresh supplies is going to change it.
I kept reading, though. I wasn't prepared to let go so easily. As I followed the links, I found what some former converts were saying. It seemed that the perfect homeschool system didn't work for some of the super-organized folks, either. The moms confessed that it had been fun to set up. The new system kept the parents on track and occupied. There were stickers to rearrange and folders to fill, but the kids do what kids do. They worked on what the liked and conveniently forgot to finish the harder items that had been assigned.
The sweetest child in the world can look a parent in the eye and say, "Yes, Mommy, I finished my work," and then skip off to play with all the work left undone. No organizational system with change these children. Parents do have to watch them closely, though, and guide them away from such tendencies; otherwise, those sorts of children are likely to grow up and become politicians.
At the end of my explorations, I concluded, once again, that there really is not only one right way to educate. Fancy folders, color-coded boxes, charts and stickers may work for some, but they don't work for us. Maybe they don't work for you, either.
Part of the fun of homeschooling is the exploration. Learning new concepts is great, but watching that process, finding out how a child learns and then feeding that hunger is priceless.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.