Family Focus and Balance

Encouraging new homeschool parents ~

What do you, in your homeschooling family, feel is really important?  How do you know where to focus?  How do you schedule enough time to cover all the topics, skills and activities that need to be done?

WHY Pray and define your homeschool vision

Here’s a tip ~ it is not information! Vision normally focusses on growing in character, developing relationships, learning life skills and finding the Lord’s purpose and individual calling for each person.

WHAT What to teach and when?3Rs Ruth Beechick

New homeschool parents get really caught up here!  Curriculums are written with a general standard and range of skills in mind.  Customise yours for your children, their learning styles and your unique family lifestyle.

Initially, your focus with toddlers and young children is exploration and discovery,.  Your homeschooling will also focus on learning basics such as reading, writing and numeracy.  I highly recommend Ruth Beeschick’s books!  They are an excellent “how to” guide with really basic examples.  But, essentially, you will aim towards middle schooler becoming more independent learners.  Ultimately, with your high schooler, you are more of a tutor and facilitator.

Follow Charlotte Mason’s approach with short sweet lessons, not more than 20 minutes for each Maths, reading, handwriting, LA and spelling lesson.  Combine and teach as many of your children together as possible for almost all the other subjects like Bible study, read alouds, Fine Arts such as art appreciation, classic music, poetry, and nature study.  Check my Refreshed Theme of the Day.

Christy Hissong, guest writer at Brandy’s blog Afterthoughts, wrote an excellent post “Secrets From Charlotte Mason on Scheduling for Peace” and included an extract from a Parents’ Review article entitled The Work and Aims of the Parents’ Union School” by Miss O’Ferrall {PR Vol. 3, No. 11, 1922}:

“Practically all the book work is done in the morning when the children are fresh and ready to tackle the more arduous part of their work … This is exclusive of practising, dancing, sewing and a certain amount of reading. The lessons are carefully arranged for the various days, no lesson is longer than twenty minutes …”

Important ~ Focus on your family

Homeschooling is a family affair.  These days, far too many families sacrifice their marriages, time, money, and energy for the sake of their children.  New moms often place their children’s needs and demands ahead of their husbands.  And many new homeschool moms, in those anxious, frightening, early homeschooling days, strive and stress, and poor dad is often deprived of his wife’s calm and available attendance.  Pray for wisdom and balance in this area.

Again, I will quote a quote from Christys post,

Nancy Kelly [a speaker at an annual Charlotte Mason Education Conference who blogs at Sage Parnassus said] the words that would rock my world, change our lives, and become my mantra for the following year: “Keep cutting back until there is peace in your home.”  My mouth dropped open and I caught my breath. What? Did she just say what I think she said? But what about all the lovely living books we might miss? What if we had gaps in our history and science learning? What if we {gasp!} didn’t finish a book?  Throughout the conference I heard various speakers say, “Are we reading too many good books?” “Are you teaching your students to build margin in their lives?” “A full life does not equal a busy life.” “Choose the best books and less of them.” “Don’t rush! We have a lifetime of learning ahead of us.” Are you seeing a pattern here?”

Please pop over and read Nancy’s blog post “Time, Peace and Creativity” and read Christy’s follow-up post “School is War: Scheduling for Peace revisited

Here are some of my practical tips:

  • Avoid too many out of home activities.  Check your family’s church involvements, sport and cultural activities.  Even that ‘helpful’ homeschool co-op is a stressful commitment!  “Good” stress is still stress!
  • Create at least one stay-at-home day = my kids’ favorite day!
  • Adjust seasonally = one sport per season + one cultural activity per year.  Pare down other activities during concert, competitions and exam sessions.
  • Unity and peace is your guiding rule.  I have learnt to ask myself/ my kids, “If you feel relief being told you DON’T have to “do” something, it is a good indicator that you should not do it.”  If everyone groans because of one person’s commitment, the family could suffer or loose out.  Check if it is really worth it!
  • Restful pleasurable afternoons – we love to do our extra subjects after lunch.   If school is done, then encourage a Charlotte Mason-type of activity such as handicrafts, nature walks, reading.
  • Scale back with new baby/ illness/ moves …  and just read aloud.  You will be amazed at how much your children learn and grow with read alouds.  Even for a long period.  It is a homeschool superglue!
  • God’s “YES” gives me peace to say “no” to the rest – When the Lord shows me what my calling and purpose is for this season in my life,  it is easier to say no to others who may call me to other seemingly very important things.  When pushed for an answer, it is still better to promise the person that “I will pray about this and get back to you,” than to impulsively commit to something that takes me from my true calling.  You have God’s permission (and mine) to say no.

May I encourage you with this last quote from  Imagination as a Powerful Factor in a Well-Balanced Mind by E. A. Parish, Parents’ Review Vol. 25, No. 5, 1914:

“…two things are necessary — solitude and independence. Children must have these…Miss Mason devises time-tables which cover such reasonable hours as to leave time over for this solitude, but parents are often very culpable in thinking that some other new thing must be learned as well, and the much-needed time for solitude is used for plans which necessitate hurried journeys … and the thinking time, the growing time, the time in which the mind is to find food is diminished, and the child becomes restless, tiresome, irritable, disobedient – everything that a child who is reputed to be difficult can be.”

May you find you peace, rest and focus for your new year!

Blessings In Him,


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