Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lesson Plans

This is my first year homeschooling my children. When I first started, I had all these grand ideas of how things were going to go. We set up a special homeschool room. I put the alphabet in cursive on the wall. I had a white board and maps on the wall. I did my lesson plans for the entire year. I worked out a daily schedule. It was great! I felt so efficient! Then we came across a little bump in the road. Then another. Then my husband was injured and was flat on his back for 3 days (months later he is still not full recuperated). I got behind in my precious lesson plans. I tried doubling up on lessons. That just frustrated the kids and got me WAY too stressed. We just got further behind. I was convinced that I was failing. I was devastated. I pictured my kids failing their tests at the end of the year and having to put them back in public school. It became hard to even get through one day's lesson. I fought back tears on almost a daily basis. I tried to revamp all my lesson plans (thankfully I did them all in pencil on the advice of a veteran HS mom). I put an immense amount of pressure on myself. My children were miserable. They no longer enjoyed school and it showed in their work.
Then, for whatever reason, I just stopped. I took "time off" from school. About a week. Really, I did. The kids relaxed. I relaxed. I was able to get things done around the house again. I felt my sanity returning. At the end of that time, I looked over my lesson plan book. I began to get overwhelmed again. I stepped back, took a breath and put the book down. I decided to let it go. If my children were going to learn, they would have to be free to do so. The pressure I put on myself trickled, no, poured, down to them. I decided that I would use my lesson plans as a general guide. I wasn't going to get stressed if I didn't get every item checked off each day. We would take our time each day. If the kids struggled with a concept, I felt free to spend all the time needed for them to get it. Without my blood pressure rising due to our schedule not being followed. If they were fidgety, I let them go run it out for a while and then return. Guess what happened?! We all started enjoying school again!! Plus, I felt free to do more unstructured teaching. We were out running errands and the kids wanted to stop at the local reservoir. They had never been then when it was warm (we go sledding on the big hill there every winter). We did it! That led into questions about reservoirs and bodies of water. We researched and they learned things. Naturally. Because they were curious. It was great!
You know what else I found out? That we really weren't behind at all! I recently printed off the state standards for my children's grades. The stuff they would be tested on at the end of the year. I carefully looked over them, somewhat fearful of what I would find. Lo and behold, they had already conquered more than 2/3 of the information and we were only 1/3 of the way into the school year. Wowza! I was pumped!
So what did I learn through all this? In all my stress and trying to do it all on my own, I neglected the most important thing. Because I was so concerned about getting through our academics, I had stopped doing our Bible lessons and prayer each day. I had stopped truly seeking God's direction. Sure, I sent up desperate quick prayers pleading for Him to fix my mess, but I never bother to quiet my heart to listen for His response. I was trying to do it all on my own. I had grown prideful, and man, did that come before a fall! I still struggle day by day to keep my priorities straight and to lean on Him. I have to keep reminding myself that these two little ones that I adore are first and foremost His precious children. He is simply lending them to me and entrusting me to guide them in the right way. He is their Heavenly Father. He knows them even better than I do AND He never lacks for wisdom. He is the ultimate Educator and He is still teaching me my daily lessons. I pray that I am following His lesson plans for my life.

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