I've been on vacation and I thank you so much for your patience with me as I put this podcast on vacation as well. I took an amazing beach trip with 30 other homeschoolers, including my family, and didn't think I would have any time to myself. I was wrong. I had time to read, walk on the beach, and just think and pray. In the process, I gained a fresh perspective on my homeschool. I'm looking forward to sharing what I learned with you as well as tips for how you can gain a fresh perspective too.
Teaching Tip of the Week
But first I want to share the teaching tip of the week. If you have any interest in your kids learning American Sign Language, you have to sign up for Rochelle Barlow's free video course. Rochelle's expressive style is amazing. The kids in our homeschool co-op loved her. We learned so much! Rochelle offers a full course that will help your kids (and you, if you'd like to learn) master sign language. I honestly found it more fun to learn than other foreign languages. Check it out at RochelleBarlow.com. Rochelle is spelled with two Ls.
Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week
This week's challenge is The School Space Challenge.
How to Get a Fresh Perspective
I didn't go to the beach with a three-step process for getting perspective, yet I came away with a wonderful big picture view anyway. So know that I'm describing what I did after the fact. I understand that not everyone can get away for a week on the beach. It may be challenging for you to get away for a shower! But I highly recommend that you make time to be alone for a while. It may be to a coffee shop while your friend or spouse watches the kids. It could be on a weekend visit to your parents. Maybe Grandma could watch the kids while you head out for a few hours on your own. Or you can get a little perspective while the kids play at the park. My fresh perspective didn't come after hours in solitude, but rather in little pockets of time surrounded by kids and friends.
I recommend that you have a Bible, a journal and pen, and a mind open to what God has to say to you. Once you're there…
First, think about what's most important to you.
One of the things that came to mind as I reflected was how important it is for me to have my children play an instrument. It has nothing to do with performance. Only one of my three instrumentalist older children performs musically in any way. It has to do with joy and a productive pursuit. My three oldest children play their chosen instruments all the time. They absolutely love it. As a bonus, it keeps them from being overly focused on screen time.
Another thing that came to mind as I reflected was how important being focused on my family is to me. I don't want to be the mom always staring at my phone. I talked about this in the episode on being a hands-free homeschool mom. I want to be present.
A final thing that I focused on was my commitment to writing curriculum. I love writing it and I love that students who are using Grammar Galaxy are enjoying it and learning a bunch. I did an episode on Grammar Galaxy as well.
The second step in getting a fresh perspective is to think and pray about what's keeping you from attending to what's most important to you.
The last part of Hebrews 12:1 reads: let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. As I thought about my younger children and music, I realized that having me teach them and self-directed curriculum just wasn't working. No matter how many times I renewed my commitment to be diligent in teaching them piano, it was always getting put on the back burner. I was tired or already running kids to classes or behind on other subjects.
What was hindering me with respect to focus on my family was notifications. I read the book Two Awesome Hours and was convicted by the research on distractions. I was constantly being distracted by notifications on my phone, even though I had the sounds turned off. Every time I saw one, I had to make a decision about whether to check it or not. Decisions are exhausting. It's no wonder that after a few hours I just wanted to give in and chase every squirrel presented to me. Meanwhile, I was distracted from focusing on the people who matter most to me.
My curriculum writing, which primarily happens first thing in the morning, was being missed repeatedly. I was staying up late, focusing on things that weren't priorities. Then I slept in and started my day, not with exercise and writing as usual, but with social media. For me, social media is definitely something that “so easily entangles.”
The final step is to repent and do the things you did at first.
It's true that this isn't always what we need to do. While I reflected, I realized that I needed to hire more help and that's honestly something I haven't done a lot of. But considering what you did at first that worked is a great place to start.
Repent means to turn around, to go in a different direction. It's technically more a result of a fresh perspective, but it's so closely related, I'll share it as the final step.
With respect to my children's passion for music, I realized that my three older children had thrived with an in-home piano teacher. While still on vacation, I messaged my local support group and got an excellent recommendation for a teacher. I contacted the teacher and arranged a first lesson time. My kids have had their first lesson and I immediately saw the same interest and motivation I saw in my older children. Hallelujah! Just as an aside, I started my three oldest children in piano and two of them moved on to other instruments. I'm not requiring them to continue with piano.
With respect to focus on my family, there was a time that I homeschooled without a smart phone. It's hard to believe, but it's true. I turned off many notifications on my phone while on vacation and determined not to look at my phone until later in the day. My fresh perspective on this has continued after vacation. My HomeschoolScopes.tv friends recommended deleting my Facebook app from my phone, scheduling time for social media, and leaving the phone off and in another room. This is still a work in progress for me as I need event notifications on my phone so I don't miss appointments. One compromise I could make is that on days I don't have appointments, I could leave my phone in my room. I did live without it once!
Finally, with respect to curriculum writing, I reaffirmed my commitment to my bedtime, my workout routine, and my writing time in the morning. Several months from now, I won't be proud of how many hours I've spent on social media or how late I slept in, but I will be thankful to have another volume of Grammar Galaxy to offer to students in the fall.
Today's Action Steps
Think about what's most important to you. Most likely these will be the areas of your homeschool and life that haven't received the attention they need. You may want to ask yourself why each area is most important to you, just to make sure you aren't trying to impress other people, for example. Second, think and pray about what's keeping you from giving your priorities attention. Be honest with yourself. If you're really brave, ask your family or close friends why they think you aren't focusing on these areas. If you have a problem with your phone like I do, Allie of The Purposeful Housewife.com has a tip for iPhone users. Click Settings, then Battery, then the clock icon. You can see how you've spent your time for the past day or the past week. It's eye-opening. Finally, make a dramatic change, probably returning to what works. Think about when you felt like your homeschool and life were going the best. What about that time could you do again now? Then don't wait. Do like I did and arrange for a piano teacher, turn off your notifications, or simply recommit to a schedule that fits what matters.
I'm so thankful for you taking the time to listen to this podcast. Every time I hear from a listener, I have a renewed commitment to keep sharing in this format. I would love to hear from you, either in a review of this podcast on iTunes or send me an email at email@example.com.
Have a happy homeschool week!