Homeschool Commentary #4: Be Flexible

This is my first post about lessons we have learned from homeschooling. So, why is this labeled post #4?  No rhyme or reason, actually.  Does it seem strange to you that I didn’t choose to start with #1?  I just picked the number, but it gives credence to one of the most important lessons we have learned and that is to be FLEXIBLE.  Everything is not going to go according to our most thoughtful and well-laid out plans.  Things are not going to proceed in pristine order.  And that is ok, quite special even, because it opens the door for so many learning opportunities.  It also teaches a necessary quality as an adult/business owner/potential employee – the ability to quickly and smoothly adapt in any situation.

Flexibility is one of the most important reasons that families choose to homeschool, yet it can be a challenge to accept and master for home educators who were raised in traditional brick and mortar schools.  The focus word is HOMEschool.  We are at home. Our school day does not start at 7:30 am and end at 3 pm.  This is not a corporation or manufacturing plant.  It is home – a place of safety, warmth, love, and comfort.  And that is what homeschool should be: a safe, warm, loving environment to foster learning.  There is space and time for questions, diversions, expression, and creativity.  We are not on the clock – learning takes place anytime, any day of the week.  Learning takes place in the school room, at the kitchen table, outside in the backyard, on the front porch, at the library, at the park and a host of other environments to which we have access.  Learning can take place by collaboration with people of all ages, friends and strangers which is reflective of the real world.  This is the flexibility we love, have been granted, and I seek to maintain.  Yet, it is easy to slip into the mode of sitting up straight at a desk, hands folded, eyes straight ahead. This is necessary in a classroom full of students, but we are at HOME.  And our focus is on enjoying the learning process and seeking to develop LIFELONG learners without the distractions of classroom management.  

Lastly, flexibility in our schedule proved very beneficial as we welcomed our fourth child this past February.  With a first grader and two preschoolers, it would have been quite the challenge for our family to navigate pregnancy, the birth of our son and the sleepless weeks that followed all while maintaining a rigorous and fixed school attendance schedule.  We were able to work over the traditional Christmas break and take our two week “winter holiday” in February when the baby was born.  Not only were we able to smoothly welcome our newest family member, but we stayed on schedule and finished the state-required school work early for the year.

I am not opposed to structure as it adds a sense of security and helps us work efficiently.  However, knowing that it is ok and wonderful to be flexible is a perk of which we take full advantage.  In our homeschool, we strive to have school adapt to the student rather than the student having to adapt to the school.  I encourage home educators to discover what methods work best for your family, for each individual child and be open to adjusting those methods as you proceed.

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