"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -St. Francis of Assisi
Maybe you're getting ready to start homeschooling for the very first time, or perhaps you're coming back to a regular routine after a much-needed summer break. Whether you've opted to do a little bit of school throughout the summer months, having concentrated on one area such as math or reading, or taken a completely unstructured approach to summer learning, we all come to that moment when we reflect on what's ahead, and how we'll orchestrate everything for the upcoming months...
Part of the beauty of homeschooling is being able to coordinate and tailor your children's education in a way that suits your family and in a way that's optimal for your child's progress, and in a way that works logistically.
Sometimes I had to say no to certain activities, say a field trip or an outside art class simply because it would cause too much "running around" and wouldn't enhance or benefit what we were currently studying. Too much time in the car; I really disliked that. But, we said yes to some very enriching, worthwhile ventures, too. So, it's all about balance and what you personally can handle in terms of driving, time away from the house, things like that...
Whatever your particular scenario, I encourage you to approach the upcoming fall one step at a time, one day at a time, knowing that day-to-day faithfulness is what's truly important. Plan what's most important, and make sure those things get done first. For instance, I always planned math to take place in the morning hours when everyone was at their freshest.
One thing I discovered about teaching was that small, consistent steps were the way to accomplish something. Whether the goal was for the twins to nail down fractions, learn the Presidents, or to play Yankee Doodle on the violin for the umpteenth time, repetition and practice were the name of the game.
I remember when the boys were in baseball during the middle school years, and the coach emphasized the fact that it was crucial to be consistent, and that he'd rather have a boy step up to the plate and get a hit every time (get on base), then to miss most of the time and hit a homerun only once the whole season. Of course, that meant hitting dozens of baseballs at every practice!
I found that in teaching, it was the little, everyday bits of learning that really had the most impact in the end. Seemingly mundane things, like studying geography and the globe a few minutes each morning right before lunch had a bigger impact than I imagined as the twins memorized capitals, continents and countries in those key elementary years.
In music, I learned that the "wheels turn very slowly" as one instructor said in those early years when the boys were just starting their instruments. The violin screeched. The guitar strings snapped in some unusual ways, and I wondered how the boys would ever make it to the next level. Well, it takes tenacity to stick with it through those early years, and involves an incredible amount of time on the part of the parents and the students. Hey, no child plays a concerto at three! Homeschooling is like that. Our kids take years to become true scholars. But small steps really do add up. Little things are big things when children are learning! One note, one measure, one song, and so on. When it comes to reading, it's one word, one sentence, then one whole book...
So, as summer wanes and we look to a new homeschool year, my encouragement to you is to stay steadfastly faithful and consistent to your calling to teach. And remember that homeschooling's a huge task. You might need to cut out some activities that sound good, but will be too much for the family schedule.
Give homeschooling all you've got, and teach with all your might! Keep teaching. Keep learning, and don't give up.
God bless you!