Since homeschooling happens in the real world while our real lives are going on around us, we often face disruptive events which throw us off stride and threaten to derail our entire educational process for a time. Younger siblings, home-based businesses, and household emergencies all can disrupt our planned school day. However, we know that life is life, even during a school week. We want to teach our children to deal with disruption without losing the focus and drive to complete a task or assignment. So, let’s talk about ways to cope when the inevitable disruptions happen.
Planning ahead will do wonders for your ability to cope with disruptions. Knowing that these things will pop up and having a plan of action will keep everyone calm and moving forward when they hit. The specific plan you set in place will depend on your family, schooling style, and the type of disruptions you’re most likely to have. Maybe you need to set up independent workstations that your elementary kids can move to while you are on the phone, or you need a basket of read-aloud books set aside for when you’re rocking the baby. For kids old enough to read, a simple folder or a posted list of options to do when you’re not available will keep things moving in the right direction. For younger kids, set aside a basket of toys or puzzles at their skill level to use during these times.
Remember that you are teaching your children life skills, not just book skills. Sometimes that will mean that everyone stops school for the day and deals with the disruptive event or takes the time to recuperate from a stressful disruption. But other times, it means adapting the plan and moving on to redeem the time. Knowing that disruptions happen, and having a general idea of what your plan will be when they do, will give you back the power of leadership and forward function in your homeschool.
Events, attitudes, appointments, or classes can all interrupt our preferred school day flow and potentially derail our progress. But changing the way we think about our day can deflate an interruption and put the day back in our hands. By viewing our daily and weekly calendar as a routine rather than a schedule, we can always be “on course” for whatever we plan out.
Look at your calendar for hard and fast times – co-op, medical appointments, classes, sports – and fill in those times. Then everything else simply goes in as a “next thing.” When we finish memory work, we move on to copy work, then math, lunch, and preparing for soccer practice. In this way, we aren’t tied to beginning math at 10:15 and ending at 10:45. We know that math will be “the next thing” as soon as it works, whether earlier or later than the 10:15 we used to put on the schedule. If math gets interrupted by a phone call, everything’s still ok, because we know there’s no set time on lunch either.
In this way, we take away the power of an interruption to derail our day and put the power to focus and succeed back in our own hands. Times are great, and schedules are fantastic, but not if they lead to defeated feelings, tense family relationships, or just giving up on learning. Using your schedule as a rigid and unbending plan allows any interruption to take family leadership from your hands and replace it with resentful attitudes and feelings of failure. Write out your preferred times and days, but remember to follow it as a rhythm and routine and not as a law.