Monday, September 23, 2013

The Walnuts come first

In my mother's home sits a mason jar filled with walnuts and popcorn.   It's not meant to be eaten, but serves as a visual reminder about the need to prioritize.  You see at one time the jar was empty and it was my mother's task to stuff everything inside.  If she started with the popcorn she'd never have space for the much larger walnuts at the top.  The walnuts had to go in first and the smaller grains would fill in the gaps and cracks.  So when I have a busy day ahead, I always make sure the walnuts of life are taken care of first.

School is important to be sure but sometime even school gets trumped -- I have to take my husband to the surgery center,  I've got a bushel basket of persimmons that need to be processed,  the car needs to be serviced.  This past Friday I needed to 1) pack for our weekend trip to Mansfield, 2) process 10 pounds of tomatoes which wouldn't last till we got back, 3) puree a basket of persimmons, 4) finish a product review, 5) grind flour and feed my sourdough (already two days passed its normal feeding) and 6) make sure my husband had meals while we were gone. Fortunately, my son is old enough now to do a lot of his own reading and work unsupervised.  We brought schoolbooks up from our basement and set him up at the dining table.  I was nearby in the kitchen for any questions.  Later he did his online work and then I took over the computer to complete my review post.  We didn't get all the schoolwork I had planned, but we managed better than 75 percent.  The rest we'll make up this week.

Here a few of my best tips for busy moms.

1.  Unlike the yellow bus crowd, we aren't tied to an 8-3/M-F schedule.  There have been days my son was at school at 6:30 in the morning.  Perhaps we'll save some subjects until after the supper dishes are done.  Take off a Monday and have a brief school day Saturday Morning. 

2.  Be realistic about what you can get done.  Last year we participated in a weekly co-op and because I wasn't going to waste the trip, we stopped and some of the grocery stores in the area.  That meant we were going to be gone 6 hours.  The only subjects I kept for our homeschool were Bible, Math and Science.  All other subjects I planned for a 4 day/week schedule with co-op day being our light day.

3.  Take school with you.  Our first year in Missouri I didn't really know anyone well enough to leave my son with when I had to say get the oil changed in the car or take my husband to out-patient surgery.  Since my Schnickelfritz was having to come with me, we might as well bring some schoolbooks too.  I read aloud to him in the waiting areas and we discussed the materials (often science).  Fritz was also very talented at math and could solve word problems in his head if I read them to him. You know what--we never got any complaints from the other people and often they stopped reading their magazines to listen to our conversation.  We were ambassadors for home schooling, and without bragging I think we made a pretty good first impression.

4. Think outside the textbook when logging hours.  If your day is busy with something, can you figure out a way to make that something count as school?  Processing tomatoes --sounds like Home Ec. to me.  Give my son a map and see if we're above or below 1000 ft. and explain how that's make a difference in the pressure canner.  Math can be multiplying fractional cups of ingredients by the number of batches we're making.   Need to drive across two states to Grandma's?  Pull out the maps and teach them navigational skills.  Have them calculate the gas mileage when you fill up.  Stop at the rest areas and pick up the state's tour guides--they usually list famous people and events, there's your history lesson.

5. Let your kids have a turn being the teacher.  Okay I only have one, but isn't the goal to help them learn how to acquire information on their own and not wait to be spoon-fed?   If you've got several kids, let the older ones help the younger one with subjects they've already mastered.  (don't do this too long or without supervision though--one of Fritz's friends still couldn't read by second grade because mom thought the older daughters were taking care of this and they obviously weren't).


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1 comment:

Brittney said...

"Think outside the textbook when logging hours."

I don't have to log hours, but I'm realizing that almost any experience has learning value. I was in the same boat about not having a babysitter and having to take my boys to my prenatal appointments last year. My oldest LOVED hearing the heartbeat & watching the ultrasounds. Those easily counted as science/health, and he always entertained the staff with what he knew.

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