Things I Wished I’d Known Before I Started Homeschooling – #3

#3: Life Will Happen

Life does just happen. Even the best-laid plans for getting the schoolwork done can be thwarted by the unexpected. Doctors visits, out-of-town company, car problems, bill payments, sick pets, necessary phone calls, friends or family in trouble, a neighbor in need — all types of situations can throw off a school day. If your children were in school, you could handle a lot of things while they were away. But because you homeschool, your kids are often involved in these life activities.

When my children were small, I didn’t have many extended family members living in town. When I had to take care of something, the kids came along with me. Sometimes the day would get away from us, and I would have to consider it time spent learning life lessons.

But since you know life will happen, there are some things you can do to prepare for the unexpected. You can devise some backup options for school days that get thrown off schedule. Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Workbooks – Have some math, handwriting, and puzzle books on hand that your children can work on by themselves.

2. Reading Books – If your child is a strong reader, you might want to keep some books tucked away that he hasn’t read before. Then, when you’re otherwise engaged, he could delve into them.

3. Educational Videos – You can purchase educational videos, or just check them out from the library. You can also find educational videos online. Have some go-to videos ready for times when you just can’t teach.

4. Educational Computer Games – You might purchase these or find them online. We’ve used computer games a lot recently to practice geography skills.

5. Field Trips – Visits from out-of-town guests create great opportunities for exploring parks, zoos, and museums.

6. Educational CDs – If you have a lot of places you need to go, take along some educational CDs. Many times, we’ve listened to stories, novels, and history books on the go.

7. Educational Errands – You might be surprised how much learning can occur during a busy day of errands. A trip to the bank might involve counting money together or a discussion of how a checking account works. You might even ask the teller a few questions about his or her job. A trip to the vet for a sick pet is a good time to find out all about the animal and the best way to care for it.

8. Help From a Family Member – If you just have too much on your plate for the day, ask an older sibling or grandparent to step in and help with a subject or two.

I used to get quite discouraged when I couldn’t keep my homeschooling days on track. But after trying for so many years, I finally realized that no matter what I do, at some point life events are going to demand my attention. And that’s okay. It may take us a little longer to finish the year, but the kids will still be learning all along the way.

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