Transitioning from homeschool to private school
So, we’ve made it through our first week of “regular” school (you can read about our decision to stop homeschooling HERE and HERE). It’s been busy and challenging and a transition and a blessing all at the same time. It’s been an adjustment. A few of our kids have holes either from the fact that we just hadn’t hit certain subject areas yet that they’ve already hit in school, or because it wasn’t something I focused on. So we’re playing catch up with a few of them. Of course, you can read about how this was one of my fears HERE But even though I had great fear about how the kids would do, you can read on to see why those were unfounded fears.
There are some things we’ve been doing to help with the adjustment. It’s taken a little trial and error, but we’re getting there!
Transitioning from homeschool to private school
Homework was chaos
The first few afternoons were crazy. We pulled into our driveway at 3:45, and the next few hours were a whirlwind of homework, chaos, five kids yelling, “Mom! I need help!”, dinner, and then falling exhausted into bed, wondering if I was going to be able to handle this whole thing.
One moment, it hit me: my word for 2016 is “grow.” Yes, this was a big change. But thanks to the insight of a wise friend, I realized that this whole transition was a way that God was stretching and growing me. Just what I wanted! It completely shifted my perspective and has allowed me to go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling excited that God is growing me–just like I had asked!
We’ve initiated some changes with homework time that have helped a lot. When we get home, each of the kids goes to his or her own designated spot and starts working. If they have a question, they have to wait for me to come around: no calling out for me, no getting out of their seat to come ask, they just need to wait patiently. It has helped immensely and made those few hours after getting home much more calm and manageable!
New homeschooling hours
I used to homeschool from about 7 am until noon. Now, I expect to “homeschool” each afternoon/evening from about 4 pm until 6 pm. If I know ahead of time that this is the plan, it helps me to focus on the task at hand, and not get impatient because I need to get dinner made or laundry done or feed the dog. All that stuff is prepped ahead of time, or already done when the kids get home so that I can focus 100% on supporting them during their transition.
Getting things done
For the last three years as I’ve had my blog and it has continued to grow, I have always struggled with balancing work time with family time. I work about 20 hours per week on my business, and usually I would do some work before the kids woke up, after they went to bed, and 20 minutes here and there throughout the day. But anytime I was working on “work,” I felt guilty that I should be spending time with the kids (even if I had spent all day with them), and often, when I was spending time with them, I was distracted by how much I still needed to get done. It was like I was working at 75% capacity in both aspects, doing neither wonderfully.
The biggest blessing of all of this has been that I know each day, from 8 am to 3 pm, I’ve got a chunk of time to work. I am hyper-focused and so much more productive because I don’t have any distractions–either from the kids or myself (with all the guilt and such). The very best part is that at 3:00, when I go pick up the kids, I’m done for the day. I can say to myself, That was a great, productive day. And then I can be done. Anything I have left to get done, I write down for the next day. And again, when my kids get home, I can focus on them instead of all the other things I need to get done. So much better!
One of the best things Superman did for me the day the kids went to school for the first time was to tell me not to sign up for anything. He told me not to volunteer, at least for a few months. He wanted me to adjust to this whole new thing, and he knows that I’m the type of person that would sign up for a bunch of stuff, and then regret it and be drained before the week was up.
I am so glad he laid down the law on this one. I have been taking the time during the day to fill my cup this week–extra long quiet times, sitting on the couch with my coffee and worship music blaring, blogging, reading a book for fun, going on runs, cleaning parts of our house that haven’t been cleaned in ages…just doing things that make me happy. So when my kids come home, I’m filled up so I can turn around and fill them up. I can’t encourage them if I’m not encouraged myself.
As I kinda mentioned above, I’ve been spending extra time with God. I’ve wondered: what things has He been waiting to do in me until I had the time to focus and put the time in? Yesterday, I literally sat for 45 minutes at our kitchen table, Bible laid open in front of me with every intention of reading it, but I ultimately decided to turn on some worship music, close my eyes, and just feel Him. It was wonderful. I have talked to Him more this week than in the last year combined, because there is so much silence. Who else am I going to talk to? It’s fabulous.
Prepping ahead of time
I have to admit, I’m becoming a master at prepping ahead of time. As soon as my coffee is brewed in the morning, I wash out the carafe and prep it for the next day. Each day, when we get home from school, a different child is in charge of making lunches for the kids the next day. (It’s nice that we have five kids, and there are five weekdays!) I prep as much of dinner as I can ahead of time so that when we get home, I can just focus on homework instead of prepping food. I usually just have to pop it in the oven, or quickly cook it up on the stove (or I use the crockpot!). This has been a huge help in keeping me un-stressed. =)
The kids are loving school. Yesterday we asked them if they missed homeschooling, or if they were happy at Forest Lake, and it was unanimous: they love their teachers, they’re all making friends, and they are happy!
Sure, it’s a transition. But honestly, I’ve always loved change. I like moving forward, and seeing our kids thriving is a blessing beyond belief. Homeschooling had its place in our family for the last six years. And now, the Lord has something new. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
So, back to that fear thing–yes, a few of my kids have some holes and need to catch up. But are they so behind that they’re a lost cause? No. Did my world fall apart? No. Did they fall apart? No. I stressed myself out for no good reason, because Forest Lake has amazing teachers with servant hearts and the willingness to work alongside us as parents to ensure our kids’ success!
So, what are your favorite tips for keeping homework time manageable?