||We have had many upheavals in our lives the past three years--ranging from a too small house, remodeling, job layoff and finally relocation. Consequently, the past few years of homeschooling have been non-optimal. We are now settling into a new house in a new state (moved about 6 months ago). I am homeschooling five children grades 1 thru 9. I am struggling with getting it all done in a day. I like to listen to the younger children read and usually teach everyone's math lesson. The first grader needs me there for most of his learning time (2.5 hours). I feel like I am just doing the minimum and having a struggle accomplishing even that. Additionally, it is hard to keep on top of correcting work to make sure my older students are understanding the material and putting in their best efforts. Generally, I follow a routine for the day, rather than a strict timed schedule. This method doesn't seem to work right now. Do I need more discipline and regimentation? Any thoughts, strategies would be appreciated.
Bless your heart. You have really had a time of it. I believe that the Lord is going to reward your faithfulness and your desire to do your best. I am also certain, as I pray about your letter, that you are in the storm and are not able to see the wonderful work that is being wrought through your patient efforts. Many times we can not see the fruits of our labors until the harvest. The Lord is showing me within my spirit you to be a woman of great courage and one who is dedicated to the education of her children as well as the well-being of her family. There are many times in life when we are called to sacrifice for the greater good of the family. I am certain that though the "lost years" of homeschooling were hard to endure, there was much being accomplished despite the challenges. This is to be admired.
I will tell you some of the tactics that help me when I am homeschooling upper grades. I think that the little people are really not the issue. Their work is so straightforward and elementary that, as you explain, it can be accomplished in short order. I agree with you that reading with your children is an important and fundamental skill that will serve you well when building the foundation of their schooling. I admire and esteem your efforts with math. How amazing that you are so dedicated that you yourself are the math teacher. If you have read any of my letters and replies you obviously know that math is my nemesis. My husband takes over starting in 5th grade.
With that said, let's look closely at the upper grades. Students in junior high and certainly high school should be independent as far as staying on task. They should be responsible for a certain body of work and do it well. You are correct to check their progress. Perhaps, however, you are not the one who should be doing the checking.
In our family the older children answer to my husband. He checks their progress each evening after supper. It has really taken a burden off me. I know that I am there to troubleshoot problems as they arise through the day, but that the bulk of their interaction and discipline with schoolwork will be with him.
As the spiritual head of the family, my husband's position of authority is a blessing to lean upon. He is many times more demanding of the older children than I would be. Because he is not "in the trenches" on a daily basis he is in a better position to look with a fresh perspective and to cut through the mishmash of debates when they have not worked up to his expectations. This is wonderful for me. He is the Head Master of the upper grades and the children just naturally seem to understand that. If this is an option that might work for you, ask your husband how he feels. My husband would not have volunteered his services, but was glad to help when asked.
Remember that we all travel through seasons in our lives. We must learn to take these seasons with peace and an attitude of reliance upon the Lord's strength. It is obvious that you have been through many changes and as such your stamina may be waning. However I sense that you are a woman of prayer and do turn to the Lord for His guidance and rely upon the wisdom and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Trust that the Lord will fill in the gaps and make up the spaces as necessary. Give yourself time to adjust to the changes and allow a time for healing that will make you feel able and ready. Remember that there are no hard and fast time limits to your homeschooling year. I believe that you are walking in the Spirit when you explain that you stay on a routine but are not locked into a time schedule. Look at your outside activities. Perhaps there is something (that in your relief of being finally settled you took on) which has become a burden now. Let go of burdens. Spring is just around the corner. I find that I always lose momentum in the winter. I have to make myself stay on track. I am weak and will falter more often than my children.
Pray. Sit before the Blessed Sacrament after Mass and pray for five minutes. Then wait for five minutes in the silence. You will be inspired, I am sure of this, for the Holy Spirit is ready to do so.
Again thank you for your letter. I would imagine that as we approach the half way mark in school, many mothers are wondering the same questions and concerns. Your witness and willingness to share will be uplifting and encouraging to them. Thank you.
Jesus, we come before Your throne today to ask for a fresh anointing upon the homeschooling efforts of our dear sister in Christ. She has been through much in the past three years and now has reached a place of rest. You have led her out of this troubled time into Your light. Lord, her strength is waning and her spirit is troubled. We know that You are guiding her as we pray. Give her the clear knowledge that You are holding her and the needs of her family close. Please send new ideas and inspirations to her so that she may feel empowered to continue in the journey. Amen.
Please make certain that you are getting enough rest and nourishing food to eat. I worry about all of the moms during these frigid cold months of winter. Stay warm. I will be lifting you up in prayer. I always pray for homeschooling moms on the Fourth Glorious Mystery.
Sending out a prayer,