Ever get tempted to go back to “Egypt”? Perhaps you were getting free to follow God and shake off the shackles of the world’s ways and ideas of education, but … you get scared. You wonder, “Can I really do this? I don’t know HOW to do this. Is God really going to get me through this? At least I knew what I was doing in the “old way”.”
This is my general advise for getting started – or restarted – with olders and youngers – when you don’t know what to do – or are tempted to go back. (Quoted as sent to a mom asking somewhat the above questions.)
Don’t despair. God has given your children to you and He knows best for them and will work it through YOU! Some curriculum company does not know your child, your family or where God has you or is leading you. They don’t know best. God does – and He will guide YOU. When you know you are weak and inadequate, He can work HIS way through you – then you know you must lean on Him and can’t do it in your own strength. HE does it through you! I’ve also found that all those pre-packaged curricula at various grade levels and schedules to keep creates MORE burn out and stress on Mom, than just working with the children together on your own timetable. I continually hear moms saying, “we’re behind” and feeling like a failure (in some way or another) because they can’t keep the schedule, or stressing their kids out trying to keep the schedule. And I know way too many hs-ers who have quit because of this.)
What’s my solution?
Take your children – all of them. Get out the Bible – and read to them. For the little ones sake, perhaps a familiar story will hold their attention better. Talk about it. Ask questions about it. Questions that make them think about it. (Questions that make MOM think about it!) Not just who did what, but why God told us this, how does it change my life, etc. Even a familiar story has more to dig out than what lays on the surface. Then go run and jump – or sweep a floor or do some dishes, whatever. Then draw a picture of the story, or copy a verse, or make some type of project or notebook page to remember what they learned. OR just play-act the story in the run and jump time!
Next head back to the couch and grab a living book that you know they will all enjoy (not so “school-y” that the little ones won’ think it’s fun.) Cuddle up on the couch and read together again. Don’t read so much that the little ones lose it. You want your older ones begging you to go on. But if the littles are getting restless, quit. And talk about it. Same routine – dig into it. Any words they didn’t understand? Look them up. Anything they/you want to know more about – look it up. (Same goes for Bible on these.) Go back to the table to draw, copy, chart, write – whatever. While olders are working on this, you can work/play with youngers, if they don’t want to do the activity at the table. Or they can act it out again. Run, jump and play again.
Are there things you really need to work on individually? Many times even the things we typically think of that way can be done together. Spelling and reading? How about dumping a tub of letters in the middle of the floor or table, giving the first word to your older ones (to spell with the letters) and your younger can find the letter that makes the beginning sound of the word. He doesn’t know it yet? Find it for him and teach him. I made a game called “Mailman” (that I need to get redone electronically, so I can sell it again.) The children roll dice and draw a card – they are color coded for difficulty, from letters to HARD words – if they can read/spell (id the letter/sound) they can move forward. The whole family can play!
Math you can do somewhat the same in learning math basics/facts. Roll dice, littles tell you how many, olders add or multiply, etc. You can even use different colored dice for place value. “Story/Word” problems can be given throughout the day – with real life things.
You just have to think outside the box, and realize if they are learning something new – or increasing understanding of something old – or personally applying something they’ve known “forever” – they are growing in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. And that is good and fine. It doesn’t have to be according to someone else’s scope, sequence, or time table. Things you really want them to do/learn? (think they “need” to) Include them. They will be YOUR book choices, activity choices.
If there really is more – work with big ones while little ones nap. Work with little ones while big ones work or read independently. Have one big one work with little ones while you work with other big one, and vice versa.
God always creates a way.