While Homeschooling, January through March was the most productive time of our year. We were past the adjustments of fall and a routine had been established, we’d scaled the mountain of Christmas and were on the other side, and there were no major holidays to get in our way until spring. Reviewing my written goals for our school year was an essential strategy as I planned our major winter attack. Like a good general, I would map out for my “troops” how far we’d come, which battle strategies had succeeded, and the plan of attack for the battles ahead of us in order to “win the war” and finish school on time, or even early! I enjoyed calculating how many pages were left in the math book, dividing the number up into the remaining days and casting a vision for my children of success if they just completed “x” number of pages a day! My pep talk was convincing, and partly for me, and it worked!
Another strategy which was very effective was rewarding ourselves for getting the bulk of our schoolwork done in the morning. We would do the “hardest” subjects first and get them out of the way. (This was Dad’s idea: he’s a “morning person.” But it worked!) After family devotions, the children would have time to do their “list.” This consisted of things like making their beds, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, etc. Then they began their schoolday: while one did Math, the other practiced piano, and then they switched. Then there was Language Arts, and Science before Lunch. Now, we figured, if interruptions came, we’d already accomplished the bulk of our schoolwork. Promised rewards for them of time to build snowforts outside, and drink hot chocolate inside, while listening to mom read, were all the motivation they needed!
Cold winter days in Minnesota are cozy times when afternoons are filled with “just one more chapter” from a living book–our favorites were historical fiction–which not only whisked us away to another time and place, but also satisfied the State Education requirement for both history and language arts, and was a part of a fascinating Unit Study! Our local librarian and I saw a lot of each other in winter!
For me, a supremely satisfying day was when we actually accomplished all that I had planned (maybe even more!) and I experienced the thrill of igniting a fire of desire to know more about a subject and saw the love of learning on my children’s faces. What was most fun was when Dad would come home and they couldn’t wait to tell him what they’d learned and accomplished that day! Dad would ask appropriate questions, and get excited himself, maybe suggesting an experiment or activity which would complement our study, while I, smiling, listened as they fell all over one another in their exuberant excitement to be the one to tell Dad each detail of what they’d done and learned.
Today, the sun is pouring in my window on this cold January day, and both my grown children are home, and I’m enjoying being together: a rarity, it seems, these days. I’m reminiscing about the “good old days” of Homeschooling and grateful for every single one of them.