By Susan Lyttek
During all of the boys’ homeschooling, I worked part-time from home. I freelanced, wrote on assignment, and tutored online. When I could, I did my work before they woke each morning. But sometimes, days and weeks don’t proceed as planned. In order to cope with the unexpected, we had a five-fold plan.
- As soon as they could read, even a little, I set up a general weekly schedule for each boy. These, I printed on magnetic paper and stuck to the fridge just below the calendar. This way, I could point out what they needed to do at the same time I showed an approaching deadline on my schedule.
- On the day or days that I had too much work to help them one on one, I made sure they had plenty of an easier task that would still work towards our end goal. History or science DVDs made the subject fun (they loved Drive Thru History) and we still covered the material.
- If they absolutely had to get something done, like for an outside co-op class, I stationed them in the room with me. This way, if they had to, they could ask me a question. If either boy got too talky, though, I would invoke the blood or utter confusion rule. Then, they could only talk if one of them was bleeding or so totally confused that the math problem or words on the page looked like ancient Atlantean. This way, they knew I was available when needed, but not for the everyday stuff.
- I encouraged camaraderie. Each of my sons has different strengths. Physical talents come easily to Karl, so he could help Erik learn to finesse a punch or kick for Taekwondo. Erik is older and has had the schoolwork, so he could help Karl through the FOIL method. And when neither had an area of study previously, talking it out helped them understand.
- School remained in session throughout the year. After trying a summer off a couple of times, we decided it worked best for our erratic schedule to have some class work on the schedule at all times. We had “school lite” over the summer and the Christmas break, but we kept working at least a little bit. This constancy meant that if they got behind when I had too many deadlines in a row, that we would catch up during a slower season. It also allowed for us to take vacations when they suited us rather than the calendar.
Lastly, I tried not to sweat the glitches too much. When they were young, I reminded them that each day has sufficient trouble of its own (my paraphrase of Matthew 6:34), and as they got older, they often reminded me. On a daily basis, we made progress towards the end goal of an education. Some days, the progress might be minimal, but it was still progress.
And what of the life lessons they saw in their mother completing what she began and honoring commitments? Priceless.
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of newly released kids’ comedy Guzzy Goofball and the Homeschool Play from Outer Space by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas writes early mornings in the shadow of our nation’s capitol. You can find out more about Susan at sajlyttek.com.