Homeschooling requires flexibility.
If you are a seasoned homeschool family or an interested “researcher” you have likely read, discussed and implemented the idea that homeschooling is flexible. And it is. Allowing vacations on off- seasons, as well as, evening and weekend lessons along for allowing breaks when needed.
Sometimes the benefit of flexibility is a necessity to properly educate your family. This can mean schedules that reflect working parents, illnesses or the need of extended family care. And other times we as home educators have to be flexible to better educate our children.
My first six years of homeschooling my son have been amazing. I have had the best time integrating learning, free form and structured, into our lives. I have learned quite a bit about myself and my son and our family dynamic. I have researched and implemented concepts that until recently were not in my toolbox and I have loved every moment of it.
My son has grown and developed into a caring, gentle (and maybe a little awkward) boy. Homeschooling has blessed our family beyond measure.
We are headed into our 7th year of homeschooling and the official start of middle school. My toolbox needs to be updated with new ideas, new materials and new inspiration. I AM NOW HOMESCHOOLING A MIDDLE SCHOOLER! UGH!
All the tricks in my bag of tricks are no longer appealing to this boy and have grown stale. This boy who seems to grow a foot every night, who is still wonderfully gentle and kind, is forming HIS OWN opinions of the world. HIS OWN likes and dislikes. HIS OWN.
Over this past summer between fifth grade and sixth grade I have had two big FAILURES. I have always fancied myself as a creative teacher enriching my son’s life with experiences, hands on learning and WONDERFULLY FUN LEARNING PROJECTS! But I fear now that we have entered middle school, I might be a flop to this soon to be 6th grader.
Two examples come to mind this summer. 1. PRAIRIE FLOWER IDENTIFICATION and 2. MOSAIC DECOUPAGE ART WORK.
I know they sound exquisite. RIGHT!
Prairie Flower Identification
I had a two fold objective with this project. We would get outside, walk through prairies, take some pictures of flowers during different times of the summer. We would use the pictures to look up the flowers and identify them both by common name and by the scientific name. Brilliant, right?
The prairie walks were great. Being outside was great. We found lots of flowers and explored places we had not been before. This all went very well. The COVID 19 Pandemic had kept us inside, so being out was a much needed experience.
But, when it came down to looking in the books, and websites to help identify the flowers…I lost him. No interest. Boom. Failure.
But salvageable. I had to be flexible. I do not want to force my son to learn, especially during the summer months. I want him to love learning. I want him to explore and learn based on his interests. I had to be flexible so that the learning can still take place and we still enjoyed our time together. In the spirit of being flexible and promoting learning I am creating a video for us to watch about our prairie walks and flower identification. And maybe it might be helpful to others studying prairie flowers.
Mosaic Decoupage Art Work
I was super excited to have JV work on some decoupage art work and maybe mosaic work. I just had this feeling that he would really enjoy this and create a masterpiece. I incorporated this into our Beginning of School | Bible Art Project.
I collected colored magazines for materials. I ordered 5 ” x 5″ wooden tiles and I imagined the finished project. Thirty tiles of bible inspired art to hang on my wall. I was so excited to see what JV would come up with.
The first day he mapped out his soon to be master piece. He cut out his needed pieces and laid out his design. Then, catastrophe struck. Our dog walked by and her tail swiped the tile and the little pieces of paper went sailing across the coffee table. UGH!
So we decided to work on it the next day. First, JV started trying to reconfigure the master piece he had created the day before. No go. He was a little deflated and disappointed. I suggested a decoupage without it being mosaic. Seriously, I have been working on this project for months. Putting together the bible verses, ordering the material and dreaming of my new living room artwork. But it was too late, the inspiration was over. Interest was lost. Poo.
So, I asked, would you like to paint on the tiles, instead. His reply was a very unenthusiastic “Maybe.” Now you have to understand this is a super creative artistic kid who spends hours filming and editing films, making props and designing and making costumes, writing books and drawing hundreds and hundreds of pictures. (Yes, hundreds and hundreds and I have kept every one of them. :)) MAYBE! My dreams were crushed.
Salvageable? Yes, if I am flexible. He popped over to our desktop and created what he would like to see on the tile in Microsoft Paint 3D.
No, it is not what I had planned. It is his version of what I had planned. And that is the point of our Bible Art Project. His vision of the Lord’s word.
My point in sharing all of this, is that we need to flexible in our expectations and our planning when parenting and homeschooling. And there are some projects that are better if led by the student and not strictly guided by the teacher.
If your day does not go as planned, remember the flexibility in homeschooling is more than just your schedule. And if things aren’t working quite right, no worries, reevaluate and make needed changes.
Your homeschool will look different as years go by. It will look different from other homeschool families and it might even look different each week. Remember, homeschooling affords you to be flexible in both your schedule and your technique.