I am prone to tweaking lesson plans. I write them, plan weeks and occasionally months in ahead, and in the moment, that week or that day, I tend to change them. There have been moments where the girls were working on one activity, and I was re-arranging plans for the next.
Hubs challenged me to do 5 days, following my lesson plans to the letter. No substituting, no changing, do the plans as I wrote them. A brand-new camera bag/purse was on the line, if we met those days. I wanted that bag. And I wanted to see if we could actually get through those days, if with the promise of a treat, I would lead and teach the girls, and not find an excuse to spend the day in my yoga pants.
We set off the first day, and I was full of ambition. And caffeine. I have new curriculum for science, history and math, and I was eager to get into it. The night before I had printed off a lab, read ahead in the history book, printed off a map, and dug through my endless supply of math manipulatives. The girls sailed through that day. And the next. And the next.
But the 4th day, our Thursday, was a slog. No one wanted to work that day, especially me. I found myself accepting work I would normally ask for a redo on. Rushing through our science time just to get it over with. I didn’t stop to make sure Sprout has grasped the math concepts we were working on, and we had to go back to it the next day, and slow down. Our Friday was better, but everybody needed a break.
When we finished up that last day, Sprout looked up at me and asked if homeschool was always going to be this hard. Pudge had refused to let go of me for nearly an hour, desperate for some attention and some hugs. I had an epiphany in that moment, this is not why I homeschool.
I did learn some things though, and I have the feeling these lessons will stick with me through my homeschooling years:
- It is so easy to fall into the trap of Drill Sergeant. Getting all those activities done, doing spelling words and math problems, became more important than what the girls were leaning.
- In the moment, likes and dislikes change. Things that Sprout liked, that I could incorporate into lessons, were dislikes by the end of the week, and she did not want anything to do with them.
- The ability to change lesson plans on the fly is a strength of homeschooling not a weakness. I can easily adjust to a new like, or skip ahead when something is mastered quicker than I anticipated.
- I got into homeschooling for the creativity it afforded. The ability to teach on the fly, to change things up was a huge draw for me.
- We have homeschooled for long enough now that going to a more structured schedule, more than what we do now, isn’t going to happen, at least overnight.
I hope to take this knowledge with me, to remember this when I start to feel bad about how often we don’t get everything accomplished, that the girls are still learning. Even when we do nothing more than stay in our jammies and build block towers and intricate marble runs, they are learning.