Life can get crazy. At times, moms can struggle with consistency at homeschooling, especially as they try to run a home, run a home business, do volunteer work, be a good neighbor, sister, daughter, mother, aunt, grandmother, and wear many more hats. Not to forget medical and dental appointments for the children. I get it. I have had to work through this with my seven children.
So, what can we do? We can learn about Homeschool Defaults and Plan Bs.
Routines and Habits are Our Default Mode
A default is something that automatically happens unless something interrupts. But when you reboot the next day after the crisis, the default is back in place. Let’s face it, life happens. Children get sick. Moms get morning sickness. Many of us over-schedule, then we pay for it with our health and sanity.
We Can Say "No"
I feel less is more. When we simplify and say "No" to somethings, it creates the space in our lives to say, "Yes," to other more important things.
We can say: "No," to low priority interruptions.
"No, not today," and we do not have to explain why. Explaining is defensive and can get others thinking about how to overcome your objections. Just say, "Thank you for thinking of me, but I must say, no."
"No, I cannot take this whole thing on right now, but I can do part."
"Thank you, this is a great idea, but no, the timing is off for us right now, but perhaps after Christmas."
We can refuse to overschedule.
Defaults and Plan Bs
What about homeschool defaults and Plan Bs? If something is simply designed and easy to carry out, regularity is easy to maintain. For our family, the homeschool default (or Plan A) we use a 21st Century one room schoolhouse approach- "The Power of an Hour: Gateway to a Classical Education." It is simple and clear, I also know we cover a wide variety of learning and that it addresses general knowledge and individual skill development. This keeps us progressing! If needs be, I can split up the day. Our learning is broader and deeper than they would get in school, because we are not tangled in the classroom management technique of busy work!
What happens if our default is interrupted? I can choose to do Bible Study in the morning. I can read the classic after the crisis is over and catch the Gateway learning of the day, before dinner. If things are really crazy my default might get derailed. I can condense and still move forward. We can focus on a Bible verse rather than a whole story that day. We might read a page of a classic, rather than 20-30 minutes of reading aloud. Surely, I can find a few minutes to cover the Gateway of the day. I am free to do this because I see learning as a continuum.
My home is arranged simply to support my Defaults and Plan Bs. I do not have my home real estate tied up with a room dedicated solely to school at home. We tend to congregate in the living room and the dining room. Both lend themselves to discussion and conversation, which I feel are vital to the development of their thinking and learning processes. This keeps our home feeling like a home.
What do elite classrooms do? I find it interesting that some of the best most elite classrooms try to mimic a warm home environment. They have reading nooks that feel like home or discussion areas that feel like living rooms. Their walls are not loaded with bright distractions of the typical classroom. Yet, somehow we feel our children will learn better in an unnatural classroom setting and often try to turn a room into a classroom. Learn from the best! The best elite classrooms work to create a home like environment! Why would one want to settle for and create a regular classroom in one's home., when they can have something better?
Five Homeschool Plan B Strategies
Bookshelves or a Library Basket
I have loaded bookshelves in each room. They are loaded with quality books of a wide variety in interests and genres. If you are just starting out and do not have a home library, consider a basket of library books. With a home library, children can have a follow their interest day.
Arts and Crafts Drawer
I have a drawer in the kitchen buffet for craft supplies. If you do not have a drawer to sacrifice, a plastic tote with a lid will do. This can be stored under a bed if room is real tight. With available arts & crafts supplies, children can have a creative day.
Learning Basket or Morning Basket
I keep a basket next to the living room couch. I bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. The basket is 14 inch- long, 10 inch wide, and 8” deep, with handles at both ends and a fabric lining. The basket is perfect to put my Kindle in (my kindle has my grab and grow, grab and go default for homeschool- Power of an Hour), some pencils, the classic we are reading, scholar Portfolio, Commonplace Book, and other books or resources we are currently using. I can also grab the basket and quickly and put it away when little children visit.
Wanderschooling is schooling on the road. The tote serves as a place to put items that can be used for learning while waiting for appointments. We sing in the car, play road games, and sometimes listen to a classic on CD. One homeschooling year, we had one car, and my second oldest son had job interviews to get to. Some interviews were an hour a way. So, I grabbed a tote, stocked it with things I felt we could do to learn while waiting for his hours of interviews. This was a Plan B. We did learning, we moved forward, and took advantage of the situation. We even did some nature studies for science because the job interview was at a higher altitude and therefore different things to learn. Today, my kindle or smart phone would also be a take along. This is one thing that helped me make my Power of an Hour grab and go! The smart phone can also double as a field guide, help us access scriptures online, and read or listen toi classics on line, and still travel "lite."
When one of my older sons was interviewing for jobs, we only had one car. I would drive him to his appointments and we homeschooled in and near the car, while he went in for his interviews.
Nature Studies Bags
Creating a nature studies bag, for each child, is a good idea. These are grab-and-go. These Nature Study bags can be a backpack that can store in their closet or in a plastic tote in the back of the car. the Nature Studies Bags can also be used on field trips! Items to consider Including:
1. Sketchbook/ Discovery Journal for each child in their packs.
2. Drawing/ water color tools, at least pencils for drawing.
3. Magnifying glass.
4. A snack and water bottle.
You can also include a different field guide in each pack (optional) or you can ditch the field guides if mom carries a smart phone.
Sometimes children are just not focused. You do not have to give up on school for the day. Get out into nature and study God's First Classic! With nature bags already to grab and go, you can be out side learning in no time.
As you can see, Defaults and Plan Bs can help you ditch the guilt from interruptions, stay on the homeschool path and moving forward every day. The above drawer, basket, tote, and bag can help things go smoother, increase regularity in home learning, help you be more flexible, keep your family moving forward on learning, and enjoying the journey more.
Here is another hint: Defaults and Plan Bs can be applied to menus, as well. I do the same for menus. I simplified and streamlined with a default menu for the week and a Plan B Emergency menu for unexpectedly crazy days.
Enjoy the Journey!
What do you do as your plan b?
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