Thursday, 4 February 2016

Home Ed Without Losing Your Head...

Home education is an all-consuming life. Over the last six years, I have gradually developed a few strategies for keeping going while keeping it together. Sort of.

1) Organisation. Not everyone's cup of tea - but I plan and plan and plan. Meal plan, lesson plan, activities plan. This doesn't mean that we live a serene and ordered life (Ha!), but that I am just about holding back an inevitable tide of chaos. If all else fails, I know that I will clean the bathroom on Wednesday. And that I have planned chicken dippers for an occasional easy Friday tea.

My Home Ed diary.

2) Hobbies. Home education is, as I said, all-consuming. It is rare for me not to be mentally tweaking our schedule or our curriculum, or considering how to stretch my maths-y child, or help my daughter with her phonics - and so on and so on. I try to have stuff in my life that gives me a mental break, or a sense of completing something. Raising and educating children is not a task I can tick off, so I bake cakes, and more recently have started doing cross stitch again. 

Cake! Finished - unlike my children.

3) Exercise. I don't really feel qualified to talk about exercise...but, for me this means pilates once a week, using our exercise bike, and lots of walking the children up hills. My only goal is to feel a bit stronger, and fit enough not to die when we climb mountains in the summer.

4) Reading. I suppose this is a hobby too, but for me this is in a category all on its own. Reading helps me to use and stretch my mind - both modelling to the children a love of learning, and, hopefully, better equipping me to help them. This year, I am keeping a record of what I read, just to get a better sense of the breadth of my reading, and where I could supplement it.

5) Other Home Ed. Parents. I find it a great encouragement to talk to other parents on the same journey that we are. It is a helpful to share our experiences - and you can rely on them not to suggest that sending your children to school is the best solution to every problem! I have invited parents here for an evening a couple of times over the last year, and time to chat without our children around was refreshing.

6) Friends. Seeing good friends (not just home ed. friends, and not just other parents) is absolutely vital for me, and can keep me going through many tough spots. Meeting up face to face is ideal, but emails or chatting on Facebook, or even exchanging the occasional text can be a real boost.

7) Bible Reading & Prayer. These so easily get squeezed out in very busy lives, but time with the Lord is vital for each of us to keep going as Christians. If I want to raise my children in the training and instruction of the Lord, I need to spend time with Him daily.

8) Discipline. By this I mean making sure that our children know that we expect them to obey us. Still a work in progress here, of course - but they generally do what we say because that is what we have always insisted on. It means that I can be confident that they will get on with their maths or Latin as much as I can expect them to brush their teeth or make their beds.

9) Leaving the House. We walk daily, and also often visit friends and family or make trips to museums. For the last few weeks, we have spent Tuesday mornings in the woods doing a wildlife course with other home educators. It keeps us all happier if we get out for a decent amount every day. I also find that getting out means that they are less likely to argue or annoy each other - even once they're home.

One of many walks.

10) Rest. I also need to get a total break every so often. This might be as simple as a walk on my own for an hour. I also sometimes escape for an evening or afternoon out with my husband. In addition, I go to a couple of conferences for ministers' wives each year; one of these is three nights away - a real blessing!

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