I’m thinking most of us are either winging our way into a fall schedule by now or will be very soon. Schools are starting. Home school’s are getting underway. Canning is coming to an end. Cooler weather is setting in. The call to organize and sort and "store our nuts" for another winter is beckoning us. The goldenrod is yellowing, orange pumpkins dot the gardens and colorful mums are just around the corner. I’ve seen a few changing leaves and umm… it’s a delightful time of year.
I recall when my girls were young and this time of year approached. I was always ready for a new, more structured schedule. I’d sit down with pen and paper and establish new chore ideas, design lists and plan activities.
As I was reflecting on all of this the past few weeks I remembered ideas my daughters have taught me. Practical things they’re doing that I never thought of. Things that make chores easier for their children. Creative ideas of jobs for younger and older ones. And numerous school ideas I never dreamed of.
My daughter Rachel found it was confusing for three-year-old Aleya to sort silverware. Rachel looked through her containers and found one the right length and size for all the silverware to fit into. When Aleya empties the dishwasher now it’s much easier for her to put the silverware all together into the one container. Rachel also sets up the clothes drying rack each week. This has worked great for five-year-old Sierra to hang out small pieces of laundry.
Christa, my youngest daughter, believes she’s lit on the perfect plan for younger children when it comes to table setting. She transferred all of her tableware from the upper kitchen cupboard to a lower one. Now even three-year-old Alyssa can collect the items needed to set the table when it’s her day to do that job. Christa also had her husband Rod string a clothes line that is just the right height for five and six-year-old Kyle and Kassie. They do a splendid job hanging up the small laundry items as well as collecting them when they’re dry.
The children have weekly jobs of wiping mud off the mud room walls, sorting shoes and putting them in perfect order on proper shelves, and picking up toys until there is not one left on the floor. It’s amazing to me that by age four and five they can sort laundry, and be responsible for dusting and vacuuming the children’s bedrooms on cleaning day.
My oldest daughter Carla, in her ninth year of teaching, has spent endless hours on the computer. She’s preparing charts, lists and schedules for the students that will be in her classroom at school. She took one-half day to help Christa set up a school room at home with books, charts and materials all in place. She shared ideas with both of her mother-sisters for making their home-school days effective and smoother.
However, as I have listened the past weeks to my two new home-school moms, it’s with some amusement. One day one mom had an excellent day. Her students cooperated and the curriculum seemed like the right pick. The pre-school children enjoyed their activities while Mom helped with school things. On that very day the other mom felt like the schedule wasn’t working at all. The younger children weren’t happy with the whole plan, and none of Carla’s carefully worked-through ideas seemed to be working. Back and forth these girls’ days seemed to go.
And then by Friday they both reached their limit. By noon, the girls had been on the phone with each other. Rachel was ordering another some kind of school book that Christa liked, and learned she could return some of the former chosen curriculum. Her toddler’s morning had not been conducive to teaching Sierra. There had to be a better plan.
Christa at her home, eight hours away from Rachel, had decided her day also was not working. One-year-old Dylan was weary of playing with playpen toys and three-year-old Alyssa didn’t want to entertain him. She wanted to color and sit at her desk just like her older brother and sister were doing. Six-year-old Kyle who is a Math wiz mentioned to his mother, “It’s ok, Mommy, if you want me to just keep learning these same things, but I really did think I would learn new things this year.”
And then, by the time the weekend was over, both moms decided these children have to understand school isn’t all about just pleasant things. They simply need to learn that school is school, some work is hard, some is easy, and all takes discipline. The younger children needed to learn just as many things with a new fall schedule as the older ones. And that they, the moms, will keep plugging away organizing, sorting, charting, teaching and planning just which of all their ideas are right for their family for the upcoming fall and winter months.
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Donna, what a well-written and interesting article. I am neither a parent (nor a grandparent, of course, but have been a foster mother). Your story held my interest. I think mothers who homeschool their children in this day and age are to be highly commended. Schools the way they are, are not conducive to Godly teaching. It would be difficult teaching children, like your daughters are doing, in that they have toddlers to keep watch on too. I think the idea of the chores also, is wonderful. It seems that children these days are not being taught home responsibilities. I admire your daughters. Please tell them so.
Donna, I really was captivated with your account of the home schooling. I am a volunteer computer teacher this year at a private Christian academy, and I have enjoyed watching the different age levels of students and their respective teachers learning how to cope with each other. Thanks for sharing. Thomas