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Successful Homeschooling for the Scatterbrain
We’re scattered. That’s the long and the short of it. The question remains, though, how can we be both scattered and successful? Success is an individual measurement. We just seem to forget that when the rise and fall of success lands on our shoulders. We SBs of the world have to quantify what success is for us based on our situation, our children’s learning abilities and styles, every aspect of what made us decide on homeschooling in the beginning. Our yard stick for successful homeschooling should be marked off on what we want our end result to be. Where do we want our children when they move from one grade to the next or graduate from our homeschool? Is it our four year old reading or our high schooler graduating a year early? How about just getting through every subject in one day? Reciting the preamble to the Constitution in first grade? Do we even care about grade level or state set standards of learning?
If you are anything like me you were just answering these questions in your head as you read through. That’s good, but you aren’t done. Grab a piece of paper or five and sit down to deliberately write down your desires for each child by name. Then create your measuring stick for each child as well. For example, Sarah is four. She can recite her alphabet and numbers to twenty. She is still learning to hold her pencil well. She loves being read to about birds and bugs. In our home, success for Sarah is being able to legibly write her alphabet and numbers, knowing a few facts about six different types of birds and bugs, and discovering new animals to enjoy. Do this exercise for each child. Beware of excited expectations. And please, please don’t base your measuring stick on someone else’s child. You may have the child genius but you may also have the child who is dyslexic. You chose homeschooling for a reason; rest in that reason to guide your expectations for your homeschool’s success.
Now that you have established your measuring stick it is time to tackle the issue that makes all SBs cringe: ORGANIZATION! It’s okay, calm down. We’re just talking about it. Nothing drastic…yet. My favorite financial coach says, “If you want to be rich people, do rich people stuff.” In other words, observe someone who exhibits the habits you want and mimic them. Who embodies success in your eyes? To my opinion a successful homeschooler enjoys teaching, is not rushed where recordkeeping is concerned and has children who are thriving at their individual levels and have a desire to learn. These attributes are the fruit of certain characteristics. Implementing the characteristics is where most scatterbrains miss the mark.
Organization seems to be the hallmark of a successful homeschooling family. The matter becomes more difficult, it seems, when your family falls short of the standard we see as success. One trip to a curriculum fair or homeschool convention can send even the most self assured scatterbrain to their wit’s end. All we seem to see are the perfect mother hens who rise before dawn to mill their own grain for freshly-baked bread, weave fabric for beautifully stitched handmade clothes, toting books on astrophysics and calculus to be used by her second grader, and never having to correct her impeccably behaved child prodigies who make Emily Post look like an uncivilized heathen. Reality is that no one lives that life. Being organized is just using the tools available to their fullest extent.
The tools out there are plentiful, and each promises to solve all your problems. Most will not work for you, but taking a long hard look at where you need to be more organized is the best way to light on the right tool for your job. In my case time management is a huge issue for me! Dividing my day between housekeeping, meals, schooling, and various other activities has had me pulling my hair out more days than I care to count. If you commiserate with that try a planner. Not just any planner but one specifically designed to include homeschooling. Others may be just fine, but our days are so centered around schooling that not having room for it in a planner causes disorganization. Clearly we don’t need any more of that.
Make sure that you do more than just buy a planner – use it. Yes, it’s pretty, but you can mark in it anyway. Try first marking your recurring activities other than school. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but, unlike a school day schedule, those events are already set for you. There is nothing you have to decide on. After a couple of days of following this schedule then try outlining – one day at a time – your school schedule. With perseverance, and, most importantly, grace for your failings, you will soon settle into a routine. Do not go back to comparing yourself to anyone – that is the death of personal change.
It seems only fair that since I have spent this entire article asking you to do new things that I encourage you to continue doing something you’ve been doing all along. Lists, lists, lists. That’s what I have learned from the person I look upon as a grand example of a “has it all together” kind of person. Writing things down, she says, is crucial to what makes her home and homeschool work. As I said, you’ve probably been doing this already but now I’m suggesting you do it more intentionally. That means not jotting reminders, notes, doctor’s appointments, rehearsal schedules or any other thing on the back of the first convenient envelope you encounter. If something is important, treat it that way. Go to the minimal expense of purchasing a fancy notepad on which to keep these important things to remember. No more sticky notes on the car visor!
Before I close, I want to impart one more thing – perfection doesn’t exist. I am a work in progress and probably always will be. If you stepped into my house right now you would see shoes, dirty socks, books, etc. littering my living room/school room, but I know where to find everything I need to teach. I can work around the other stuff. My children learn just fine with a little clutter around. By our family measuring stick they are excelling. I strive to be less scattered, but I don’t beat myself up. In the words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam!” It is just fine to retain some of your scatterbrain tendencies. They are part of what makes you an individual. Find your success in harnessing your tendencies, tweaking them a bit, and setting out to greatness.
About the Author - Beatrice Scalf
Beatrice Scalf is a wife, mother of 3, and a home educator. When not occupied with running her home and teaching her children, she can be found indulging her passions for reading and writing. Beatrice is currently preparing her first collection of short stories for publication.
Article courtesy of the author and Home Educating Family, designed to encourage and strengthen families through-out the year. For more info visit www.homeeducatingfamily.com
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