Finish Strong, Finish Early
April is here, and it might be the HARDEST month of the entire homeschooling year. The sun is shining, the trees are budding, and all you want is to be anywhere but at the kitchen table working on long division. I get it, truly.
Here is what you most need to know right now homeschooling Mama: God is faithful. Will that change how long it takes to learn division? Maybe, maybe not. What it will hopefully change is your perspective on the challenges you face this month. God’s faithfulness reaches to the heavens and beyond. He sees you, He knows what your kids are struggling with, and He wants you to know you are loved. As the Mama, you often feel neglected, forgotten, and overlooked. There is just so much to get done each day, isn’t there? God doesn’t judge you by what you do or don’t accomplish and then decide whether or not to love you. He just loves you – no strings attached.
So, grant yourself a big ‘ole heap of grace and get back to enjoying spring. How can you finish strong when you’re just as distracted by the birdsong as the kids are? Take your work outside. Seriously, the change of about 15 feet out the front door on a blanket is so much better than staying inside. We had one patch of super-soft grass off the front porch when our girls were little. We’d grab a blanket, their math, and the nature notebook supplies. Who cares if you only do half a lesson of math and spend the rest of the afternoon on nature study? We did it, and my girls turned out just fine. Both went on to college and made the dean’s list because they were flexible in how they learned, they were still curious about life, and they knew how to apply themselves. All this from half a lesson of math? You betcha!
See, here’s the thing about home education… yours doesn’t need to look quite like anyone else’s, and it definitely should not look like the local school, or you’ve missed all the fun. You do you. I grew up in a very art-minded home. My parents provided copious amounts of art supplies, frequent trips to the art museum, and extra art classes outside of what I was given in public school (which back then was actually a lot.) So, when I had kids, I knew that I wanted art to be a big part of their learning environment. As the chief lesson planner, I got to include whatever I wanted after the basics were covered. I don’t think my girls ever thought twice when I said get the art supplies out. It was just what we did. When they graduated high school, they took their own friends to the art museum because they didn’t want them to be deprived of the experience.
Maybe art isn’t your thing. So, what is? Use that to help your children finish strong this school year. Music, horses, baking, poetry, science experiments? Now is the time to DO the things you never seemed to have time to do this school year. This is finishing strong.
Now about that finish early part…You can take that one of two ways. Either plan to finish earlier in the year, like early May instead of June, because no one likes being burnt out on school when the spring weather is calling you to go on a bike ride or finish your days early.
Yes, I know, most of you live in states with homeschool regulations. 180 days, so many hours, required course of study, etc. Get creative: that afternoon bike ride can count for lots of subjects. PE, science, health, sociology, or even math. “How?” you ask. PE should be obvious. Science is all the bugs, birds, and trees you’re going to spot on your ride plus the mechanics of how bicycles work. Health because you’re getting in shape and discussing how the fresh air makes you feel less stressed. Sociology comes into play when you start people watching on your trips around the neighborhood. Discuss how your neighbors do or do not get along with each other and what your family might be able to do to help out those in need. And just in case you need some more math in your day, track your ride with your phone or have the kids measure out the distance on a physical or digital map.
You see, spring IS calling your name, and you, Mama, are smart enough to heed the call. Finish strong; finish early. Go out and explore God’s wondrous creation with your kids. Math will still be there next week when it rains.
For now, this Mama needs to get back to her own college courses. You see, I inspired my kids, and then they inspired me.
A veteran with 16 years of experience, Carol writes with a practical look at the whole journey of home education. She spent the years with her daughters focused on experience-based education and frugal ways to teach and learn well. Her writing offers encouragement that anyone, even working moms, can homeschool successfully. Carol writes for her local newspaper, the Homeschooling with Heart Blog, and other outlets. You can find her love of nature, field trips, and lifelong learners on her blog: Home Sweet Life. Follow along on their adventures on Instagram.