It's that time of the year: birds are singing, flowers blooming, pollen on the air...and homeschoolers fight homeschool with every fiber of their being. Yet, you as the homeschooling parent, want--need--them to finish something related to homeschool. Your house is a mess, your kids aren't listening to you, and you are overwhelmed.
Homeschool doesn't have to be overwhelming but it often can be. Distractions get in the way of both parent and child, and the academic part of homeschooling can quickly feel like a chore. Here are some ways to manage an overwhelming homeschool life:
Have a change of scenery
As I write this, my daughter is beside me on our deck. We're sitting on a bench together, papers and books and laptop before us on a table. Birds are chirping, our chickens are clucking, the duck is quacking, and I expect Carl, our rooster, to crow any moment. Carolina blue skies are overhead, dotted by big fluffy clouds. It's a glorious day--and we are homeschooling. She's working a word search for spelling.
The thing is, we just started--and it's already 12:03 in the afternoon. It's nearly impossible for us to start in the early morning hours, so we start when we can: after animals have been fed, breakfast eaten, and clothes changed. Sometimes, a change of scenery, like coming outside on a gorgeous day, can help a great deal. Take materials to the park with a big blanket, or go to the library. Sit at a library table and, quietly, do the lessons.
The biggest distraction for my daughter are screens. Her tablet, her borrowing my phone--they all have a tendency to suck time and motivation away from her. One thing we're going to do, starting tomorrow, is to institute a new family rule: no screens until academics are finished and chores are done. I say tomorrow because this is an ongoing issue and, frankly, one I just came up with. When you're overwhelmed, you have to come up with things as you go to see what works and what doesn't.
Here me out: you don't have to finish the curriculum. If academics are hurting your relationship with your child, stop the academics. Take a couple weeks off and do fun things: plant a garden, visit museums or parks, rearrange the child's room--do things that are out-of-the-ordinary. Go for long nature walks and talk about what you see. Then, come back to academics a little at a time.
Not even public schools finish entire math books. The purpose of homeschool is to cultivate a relationship with your child and institute a love of learning. If learning has become a form of torture for you both, it's time to give it a rest. Try something new, like just reading the history book aloud. Do science projects.
There's a caveat to this, though: if you have a high school-level student, it's important for the sake of the transcript that curriculums do get finished. Have a heart-to-heart with your student and just lay it out: you must push through the curriculum to graduate high school. A lot of life is simply pushing through. We need to make sure our children understand that.
Take time for yourself
It's one thing for the students to be overwhelmed; it's another when the homeschooling parent gets overwhelmed. Know that it's perfectly okay to reach out to another homeschooling family and ask if they want to trade time. You invite another group of homeschooling children to your home, with their academics they're working on, and all the kids work on their individual tasks at your table, while the visiting kids' mom gets a much-needed break. Maybe she'll get her hair done, or nails, or just have a couple hours for a mental health break. Then, she watches your kids while you get a little break.
Take a week off academic homeschool and make it a homeschooling project to organize parts of the house that are cluttered and overwhelming. If you use your dining room for homeschool, as I do, try to figure out a way to store homeschool materials when they're not being used so you can actually use the table to dine on. If you are blessed enough to have a dedicated homeschool space, take a day or two to organize and redecorate it--particularly before starting a new grade or homeschool year.
Biblical characters battled being overwhelmed, too
Christian homeschoolers often think that they're the only ones to get overwhelmed. Just because a biblical character was close to God doesn't mean they didn't battle being overwhelmed. David, Jeremiah, Elijah--even Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane were overwhelmed at some point in their lives. We can learn from them and how they handled being overwhelmed. Having an active and constant prayer life, being in the Word, and surrounding yourselves with praying friends can all help you in being overwhelmed.
Everyone faces a season of being overwhelmed. I feel like I am a chronic overwhelmer--to the point that I needed help, so I wrote a book about how biblical characters handled being overwhelmed and what we can learn from them. I learned so much during the writing of this book! Overwhelmed: Biblical and Practical Ways to Manage a Crazy-Busy Homeschool Life can be found in my online store (autographed) or non-autographed books are available on Amazon. Balancing homeschooling, parenting, discipleship, home management, and life can be extraordinarily tricky. In this mercifully brief book for overwhelmed homeschool parents, I give biblical and practical strategies on how to manage a crazy-busy homeschool life. Using Scripture and practical suggestions, I encourage parents who are caregivers and homeschooling, and parents who are homeschooling children with special needs. In addition, I show how biblical figures handled stress, and applies those lessons to real-world issues homeschoolers face.
Please know that you are not alone! Every homeschooling parent feels overwhelmed at times, and more in some seasons. It's important to recognize when you're reaching that point, and to do something about it.
(C) 2022 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Most people think of a typical homeschooler as a mom. Truthfully, a homeschooling mom typically is the one who has direct, daily contact with her homeschooler. Also truthfully, a dad who is engaged with his family's homeschool adds so much.
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When my husband, Greg, says to people, "Yes, we homeschool our daughter," it makes my heart soar. He's taking ownership of our homeschool just as much as I am. He never says, "Yes, my wife homeschools our daughter." He has as much ownership in it as Laura and I do -- and with that comes responsibility.
Looking Over School Work
Though Greg works out of the home, I make sure I include him in our day by sending him texts about what we're doing, or pictures I take of completed tests, grades and all. He will also include himself in homeschool by asking Laura what she learned that day, or how she could have improved a test grade. He asks questions. He also looks over school work, projects, and is involved in looking at field trip opportunities that we make into family outings.
Teaching life skills or academics is something else that dads can do. Greg is paralyzed from the waist down, and a full-time wheelchair user, so a lot of what he teaches Laura stems from sheer persistence and determination. He often takes her to wheelchair basketball practices where she is exposed to people with physical disabilities who have amazing athletic talent and abilities. The lessons she learns during these trips are life-altering.
When there's a tire that needs replacing on her bicycle, or something needs adjusting on his basketball wheelchair, he'll often include Laura in those repairs and teach her about mechanics, tools, and maintenance. Teaching life skills -- even if it's folding laundry from a wheelchair -- is important in developing Laura into a responsible adult with a strong work ethic.
There are times he has taught academics, as well -- particularly geometry. He takes an active role in her education, by either supporting me when I'm teaching her or lending a hand with academics directly.
Dads can take an active role in homeschooling simply by reading. Turn the television off and read to your child, either the Bible or a book from the curriculum. We are studying Ancient History right now, and there's nothing like reading (or listening to the CD version in the car) of The Mystery of History. When Greg reads to her, it not only helps to get him involved in our homeschool, but also gives me a break.
Of course, Greg and other homeschool dads need as much encouragement as homeschooling moms do. They need the tools, resources, and information to become the spiritual leaders of their families, and to know the importance of homeschool. It also helps to encourage homeschooling dads about financial management, discipleship, and how to get involved in co-ops and enrichment clubs. To that end, I am so pleased to bring the Homeschooling Dads Online Conference to fruition. God laid this conference on my heart in late summer 2020, but with my mom's cancer diagnosis and death, life as I knew it just stopped.
But now, with the Lord's blessing, I'm happy to announce that homeschooling dads can be encouraged and inspired by speakers such as Davis Carman from Apologia, Israel Wayne from Family Renewal, Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and many others (including my own husband, Greg McKee). For just $11, participants receive lifetime access to all the online sessions and a Digital Toolbox (manly way of saying a swag bag!) full of coupons, printables, resources, and encouragement. This conference is brought to you by homeschooling dad and men who have a heart to encourage other men in their daily walk -- with God, their families, and their homeschools. For more information on the conference, click here. To register directly, click here.
Another way a dad can make a mark in homeschool is by leading his family spiritually. Facilitating daily devotions with the family, or just reading Scripture and praying together, is a powerful way to ensure that the husband is loving his wife -- and children -- as Christ loves the church. Children need to be lead by their dad and mom, a united front. So many times the dad is absent (either physically or emotionally) and that can wreck havoc on the biblical order of families.
Dates and Adventures
Finally, one thing I love that my husband does is take our daughter on dates. Sure, it may just be lunch on a Saturday as I'm cleaning house or on the way back from a basketball practice, but these little "dates" show her that her dad cares and wants to talk with her (read: not to her).
If you have a daughter, take her on a date. Open the door for her. Show her how she needs to be treated. If you have a son, take him on adventures: camping, hiking, fishing. Take your daughter on hikes, too, and your son to lunch. Mix it up.
The main thing is, dads have so much to give, and frankly, moms cannot do it all. The biblical order of things gets all messed up when we try to do things our way, or the way that we're told from Hollywood. Dads, you have so much to give and what you offer is so very important.
(C) 2021 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
April is coming and with that month the celebration of spring, new life, and the rise of Jesus Christ are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. As with every holiday, there are mainstream themes and there are Christian themes. Balancing how your family handles the two can be a challenge. However, Easter can be celebrated without the Easter bunny, and still include fun along with the important teaching of what Christ’s death and resurrection mean for us.
The Easter season is a vital part of Christian beliefs. This holiday is preceded by Palm Sunday where church go-ers recognize Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem (Mark Chapter 11). The Holy Week that follows is time spent in remembrance of the last supper Jesus spent with his disciples, his betrayal, trial, and his crucifixion on Good Friday (Mark Chapters 14-15). Ultimately, Jesus rose from the grave and fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy by taking on the sins of mankind to provide a way for mankind to have a relationship and eternity with God in Heaven.
Brief History of Easter
The name “Easter” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre. She is the goddess of spring and fertility. The tradition of the Easter bunny is thought to come from the large litters bunnies would birth in the Spring as a sign of new life. Eggs were banned from being eaten during the Holy Week and instead would be decorated and gifted as a representation of new life, as well. As the years have gone by the two have merged into the tales of a bunny that lays special eggs and gifts for children resulting in today’s Easter basket tradition.
Activities for the Family
As Christians, it’s easy to get caught up in the traditions that aren’t rooted in the truth of scripture, but this Resurrection Sunday you can celebrate and teach your children about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’ve compiled a few fun and inexpensive activities broken down by age group. Each activity can be done at home.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Play-doh Empty Tomb Play-doh tends to be readily available in any toddler’s home and is a great sensory activity to teach them the story of Resurrection Sunday. You and your child can craft a cross and a tomb and tell the story of Jesus’ death and burial.
Popsicle Stick Puppets If you prefer to have a printable option your child can color, this free printable provides all the characters to play out the Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. You could even cut out the character and glue them onto popsicle sticks for more interactive play.
Tissue Paper Hanger You can create a simple window hanger with your toddler to symbolize the love and sacrifice of Jesus. This blog has a simple tutorial available using glue, black and white construction paper, and tissue paper.
“Stain Glass” Door This activity grew in popularity last year as families found themselves isolated in their homes as Covid-19 restrictions were in place. Using chalk markers and some painter’s tape, your children can create a beautiful stain glass look on a window or storm door. This homeschooling family shows how their doors turned out last spring.
Resurrection Egg Hunt This set is available online and in storefronts such as Hobby Looby or various Christian bookstores. It combines the egg hunts with the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with each egg filled with some pieces to represent different parts of the story. It also includes a booklet with corresponding scripture verses your family can read when opening the eggs. If you don’t wish to ship a physical set, you can also take advantage of this printable version.
Build a Resurrection Garden If your family enjoys hiking, gardening, or simply being outdoors this activity could create a beautiful addition to your garden with resources gathered on your outdoor adventures. Some families opt to use a small pot, cup, or mug for the tomb, while some families used a large hollowed-out potato instead of a small pot.
Resurrection Rolls Baking and preparing meals can lend themselves to quality family time, while also teaching important skills to your children. This Sunday, baking Resurrection Rolls combines a love of working in the kitchen with an opportunity to share the miracle of Christ’s death and rise. This recipe is simple and easy to adapt for family members of all ages.
Tie-Dye Hangers Coffee filters provide a classic simple science activity when combined with markers and water. Your children can decorate the coffee filters with scenes or scriptures from the Holy Week. After using a spray bottle to create a tie-dye appearance, the filters can be cut and attached to a string to decorate a window or room. Here is an easy tutorial for tie-dyed coffee filter art.
Bible Trivia Jeopardy This final activity can create fun for the whole family. Whether you simply want to use questions from the Holy Week or expand to more Biblical knowledge, the possibilities are endless. Create teams or play individually and enjoy sharing your knowledge about the importance of the resurrection with your family and friends. Prep can be easy such as this family’s or you can dedicate a large wall for a more game show feel. Here is a set of Easter-related questions for a Jeopardy game, if you don’t want to write your own.
I hope that your family’s celebration of Resurrection Sunday is blessed and focused on the most important reasons we celebrate as Christians. I also pray that these activities will help your children understand the Holy Week and look forward to learning more about the Bible and Jesus.
You’re pulled in a thousand different directions. You have so many things that you’re trying to juggle, and you may often feel like you’re barely holding your head above water. Or maybe that’s just me.
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Let’s bring it back to center for a second. When the guilt and the to-do lists want to overwhelm us, we must bring it back to center. Let me reaffirm in you that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING more important in the world right now than teaching and instilling the Word of God in our children! No matter what earthly sacrifices that may require. There is absolutely NOTHING more important! Laundry can wait. Dinner can be cereal. If necessary, take a pay cut. That sounds extreme, but if chasing after a bigger house or more vacations, home renovations etc. is our goal and that goal has deterred or will deter us from our most important God given task, we must step back and reevaluate. Whatever it is that wants to dictate your time. If it gets in the way of this – it must change, or it can go.
The enemy targets us heavy with distractions & insecurities making us feel like we are failing our children because they don’t have enough “this” or I need to give them more opportunities for “that” (you fill in those blanks.) Or wanting them to have “this” or experience “that.” But friend, if we are not growing personally in our relationship with the Lord, (and it requires determination and creativity in some seasons. Let me testify to that.) And if teaching them about Jesus & the Word of God is not our #1 Priority - we are failing them - Period!
You know the saying: “the squeaky wheel is the one that gets all of the attention?” When we’re focused on the loud squeaky wheel, we can overlook more important, pressing issues that go unnoticed until it’s too late?
This is hard and challenging. Believe me - I know. It’s a heavy calling, and I am far from a pro. But friend, if my son grows up and doesn’t become a professional baseball player he will be fine, but if he doesn’t know Jesus and the Word of God it will cause him so much unnecessary heartache.
This can feel intimidating or overwhelming. Don’t let it.
Here’s some of the things that we have used in my house.
Personal Bible Study and Development
The most important thing we can do as parents is to instill in our children a love of Jesus and His Word. Giving them a firm foundation on which to grow will reap a lifetime of benefits for them.
Melissa Bradley is married with four children. Follow her on Facebook and on her website. Thanks to Melissa for guest writing for Homeschooling One Child.
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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