Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Two Roles of a Homeschooling Mother; Planning/Scheduling and Actually Doing It

The other night my friend was speaking at a homeschooling meeting, giving a lecture. She said something that surprised me. It was very plain and now seems obvious but I think in the past I got these things mixed up or intertwined.

My friend said that she pictures her role in homeschooling as having two roles and she tries to keep the two roles completely separate.

One role is the research for curriculum, books and classes, and the getting of it, the finding it, the scheduling of the use of it, the organizing of where it is in the house, the shuffling of books to use soon vs. just finished using vs. what is in storage. It is also thinking of educational theory, educational methods and processes and options.

The other role is the actual homeschooling and doing things with your child, the home atmosphere, the cuddle on the couch and read time, and things like that. This has a sub-role of chauffeur of child to and from activities and classes and socialization opportunities.

She made a comment that in her family she does these two roles. Her husband also helps with the actual doing of the homeschooling. Additionally both she and her husband drive different children to various events and classes.

She said that in her family she tries to keep the two roles separate and to give herself credit for doing these two separate roles.

I know also that she chooses to do a lot of the planning and shopping and schedule writing and organization in the spring and hopes to finish it in the early summer so that she can actually have fun and relax in the summer (both with her children and just for time for herself). She no longer likes spending the whole summer with thoughts of curriculum, planning, scheduling, and shopping for books and homeschooling stuff. For this reason she chooses spring homeschooling conferences to attend and tries to get everything purchased for the upcoming year by June at the latest.

This mother spoke of how in the past she would plan on Sunday night, what would be done in the next week, and at some other time, that she would do that about twice a month, making the plans for the next two weeks. That included also trips to several local libraries to find and borrow books to use in those upcoming two weeks. She found that she felt she was always working and was always thinking of the planning part. Doing that so frequently took away from just enjoying time with her children. That part of her role of homeschooling mother was never finished and it was taxing to feel that it was always an unfinished project.

Another thing that struck me was the idea that at times people can be so consumed by the thinking about homeschooling, the planning, the curriculum or book comparing, researching, or looking for bargains that it takes all their time and energy. Doing so much planning and work like that actually can rob time of actually spending fun time with the children on a daily basis, if not also taking time away from actually doing the homeschooling lessons or reading the books to the children that were so well researched and thrift-shopped for.

Some mothers (like me in the past) read homeschool supply catalogs before bed. Thinking about homeschooling is always on the minds of some parents. I no longer read homeschooling stuff before bed, that is ‘me time’ and I read things for my personal enjoyment or for enrichment in other areas of my life.

I don’t have a big long plan or schedule for our family. I barely have a monthly calendar that lists accurate dates of upcoming activities! (I am not a Palm Pilot person; I use a regular calendar to mark appointments on. I have also stopped using the Franklin/Covey planner as it was too corporate for me to use in this different paced lifestyle that I have been living.) For the last two years, I have been writing down what we do for homeschooling in a spiral notebook like the school kids use!

I was thinking that in my quest to not be an over-planner, perhaps dragging out this planning or not having it just all written out in a schedule is actually more stressful or more burdensome than having a schedule. I have shied away from mapping out a lot of plans such as we’ll learn X topic in science on X date by reading X book and this other X book and going to X museum and seeing X documentary. I know that if I make a schedule and don’t keep to it that I will feel like a failure. I definitely don’t want my homeschooled children to be made to feel that they are ‘behind’ or not competent just because they are not up to date on their schedule.

I worry that if I have a schedule or a detailed plan that I will lose flexibility. If I have the schedule and don’t keep to it then what is the point in having it? How will we feel if we are always behind?

One thing that I do see happening though is that I spend time learning about great books and then I find them and buy then we don’t get around to actually using them. That is a problem! If we don’t use them then I have wasted time and energy and money. I could have spent that time with my children or doing other useful things for myself or others. I could have had my feet up reading a book for pleasure or something like that! So I think I have come to the conclusion that if I were to start having a schedule and if said schedule was chock full of things to learn and books to read I may realize that we own enough and I can stop looking for more and more and more. That would give me more time, more energy, and save us money. (Today I listed a book on PaperBackSwap that I bought to use with my kids which I never did use with my kids and I think we’ll never use, so this point has been illustrated to me in real life.)

One use of the schedule or plan could be to realize that we have too many outside activities going on in order to accomplish what it is that was planned, so something has to be reduced. Another use could be to realize that the academic plans could be too rigorous or that I am asking too much.

So this week I am thinking about having a planned out list of things to do. Instead of doing Math U See and knowing that the next day we do math we’ll do 30 minutes of however many pages can be done in that time, perhaps I’ll map it out. I don’t know.

I am still trying to think about the pro’s and con’s of a detailed schedule or plan, why would a person want it, what purpose does it serve, or if we end up serving it.

One last thing I will add that when I have seen a homeschooling curriculum that maps out what to do when, I run screaming. I am too much of a rebel and an independent thinker to feel like I am being dictated to do this and that by some company or panel of people over at homeschool curriculum company X. Perhaps if I choose the materials and books and I make up the plan it would be different. I am not sure of that.

So that is what I am thinking about this week.

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Trivium Academy said...

Thank you, I've been thinking about this too and wondering if the craziness in my head will stop. I already know what we'll use NEXT year and still can't seem to relax. Reading your post has taken a little bit that away.

I think it's one of the division lines between a newbie and veteran. I'm slowly but surely evolving into a plan in the beginning and enjoy the benefits later type. I just ditched doing lessons plans and replaced it with checklists. All I did was copy the table of contents of all our curricula and put boxes to check off and a line to fill in the date. Super simple.

best part- the saved time from having to plan each week. YAY!


Malissa said...

Great thoughts thanks for sharing.

I mostly have a broad goal for the year. Monthly goals by Ambleside and I've been able to be very relaxed withtin that. (Thankfully!)

christinemm said...

Malissa with using Ambleside Online you are saving yourself a lot of work, by delegating the planning and a lot of decision making to the creators of AO. That is a good use of your time and will help you not burn out. Good for you.

I am too much of a rebel to do AO. I do use the AO book list to help me make book selections especially for fiction books.

Thanks for commenting!