Homeschool, New to Homeschooling

Real Life Homeschooling: Flexibility Is Key

I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Oklahoma, we’re kind of known for winds that randomly “come sweeping down the plain.” Not the gentle, breezy type, but the ones that leave trees laying in your yard and have roofers stopping by out of the blue to provide bids.

Those winds come out of nowhere, act in ways that you can’t really anticipate, and disappear just as suddenly as they began.

Life is kind of like that sometimes.

Flesibility in homeschooling is key - how to homeschool through life's storms at www.helpinghandhomeschool.com.

 

People around here just sort of take those winds in stride. If the winds are howling, we stay indoors and wonder what the yard is going to look like in a few hours; if tornado sirens are going off, we go to whatever shelter we’ve designated and hunker down for a bit. When it’s done, we post on Facebook about it, clean up the yard, and move on. It’s just part of living here.

It strikes me as odd, though…we tend to accept things like that so easily, but fight changes to our schedules tooth and nail. When a storm hits, though, it’s often the flexible things that make it through. The oak and maple branches are laying all over the ground (hopefully not on the roof of the car) while the willow tree or ivy vine are perfectly fine.

Weathering the Storm

When storms in life hit – whether they are minor little hiccups or massive life changes – they’re not likely to come with much warning. They’re going to come in, take apart our perfectly structured plan, and leave it laying all over the yard for us to clean up.

And, well, that’s never fun.

When you homeschool, it can be even less fun…not only do these storms disrupt your schedule, but your lesson plans, your activities, and your kids’ routines. And if you’re like many other homeschool moms out there, this all spirals into disrupting your confidence as a homeschooler. Suddenly, you don’t have it all together.

While it isn’t possible to stop life’s storms from happening, it is possible to weather them gracefully. And that’s the goal.

Flexibility - Learn to Buy an Umbrella

Buy an Umbrella

I’ve told you a bit in past posts about my totally out-of-the-box kiddo; he’s amazing to teach and be around, but he sees life so differently than most other people. Some of my greatest insights come from him. (Funny how that happens!)

A few years ago, he was looking over my shoulder while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and he saw a meme that showed a person dancing in a rainstorm. You know the one: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

This one always brought me comfort. He, being him, saw it differently.

“Uh, no. Life isn’t about learning to dance in the rain…it’s about learning to buy an umbrella. You already know the storms are going to come, that’s not exactly a secret. So prepare for them.”

It seems really simple, but think about it. That’s quite a concept when it comes to our homeschools.

And when it comes to our families and our homeschools, that umbrella is called flexibility.

Bend, Not Break

Our lesson plans, schedule, and organizational strategies are amazing things. On a day-to-day basis, they keep things running pretty smoothly, and I completely encourage their use.

What I would warn against, however, is becoming so dependent upon them that they become your security. Unfortunately, because structure is so comforting to many of us, that’s incredibly easy to do.

Be willing to put those things aside when necessary; be willing to bend. Hanging on for dear life to structure and routine in the midst of the storm won’t help you…it will just result in more “branches” being strewn around your yard, figuratively speaking. When the storm is over, you’ll have a lot more to clean up, and it may be more than you bargained for.

If you’re willing to embrace flexibility in times of change or distress, however, you’ll find that life becomes a lot easier. Messier, maybe, but a lot easier overall. And once the storm is over, picking up the pieces of your routine and structure is a much quicker process.

If your child is sick, drop (or lighten) the lesson plan for the day. You can make it up, I promise! If you’re running late for co op and the car won’t start, it really is ok to stay home that day, or to come late. Your child’s instructors will understand, and the other moms will too.

If you’ve had a rough time of it and need a day off, take it. Chances are, the kids are in the same boat. (Hopefully this isn’t already happening in August, but chances are it will sometime during the year!) If you’ve got a neighbor or friend that is truly in need, it’s not a bad thing to reschedule your plans to serve them. (Actually, this can be a really good thing, as it teaches your kids to put others above themselves in tangible ways.)

And if a true “storm” actually does hit, take on that flexibility long-term and roll with it. If your husband gets switched to night shifts and your family’s schedule is turned upside down, learn to roll with it. Or if the main earner in the family loses a job or has to take a substantial pay cut, ease up on some things and allow yourself breathing room in other areas. If health issues throw your family for a loop, take some time off and allow yourself to readjust.

And yes, every one of these things happened to us. I know of that which I speak. I’ve approached the storms that life hands out both ways – rigidly and with flexibility. Allowing yourself flexibility in life’s storms allows you to see the light breaking through a lot sooner.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

Flexibility Is Key - Light After the Storm

Keeping It Real

I didn’t begin our homeschooling journey with an attitude that looked kindly upon flexibility. It’s something I used to think would make me appear flaky. I worked in an industry (commercial insurance) that required tons of documentation, attention to detail, and constantly updated information. If I wasn’t on top of everything, all the time, it could mean anything from loss of a major account to a malpractice lawsuit with my name on it. Needless to say, I kept all my ducks in a row.

When I took on homeschooling my son, however, a lot of that changed. It had to. Suddenly, instead of being responsible for legal contracts and financial reports, I was responsible for every aspect of training up my little boy. There’s really no set blueprint for doing that.

My son is “twice exceptional,” which means that he’s both gifted and has learning ‘glitches.’ In lay terms, this means that growing up, there was literally a 7 to 10 year ‘gap’ between what he could understand and discuss and what he could put down on paper. He didn’t read anything past ‘early readers’ until he was 9 ½,  but when he did, he picked up The Hobbit out of the blue and read it in a week with full comprehension.

He read and discussed my college textbooks – with clarity – when he was 10. My boy would go from struggling with a subject to being able to (literally) teach the text within a week or two, which meant that I had to find him new resources from scratch every few months. He started college classes online at 14, but couldn’t physically take a pencil and paper to write a paragraph until he was 13. How do you teach a child with those needs?

Simple. You become flexible.

Both he and I have dealt with health struggles over the years; he ended up missing approximately two full years of school due to dealing with a critical illness. During this time, school consisted of audio books while he slept and movies with some sort of educational value while he was awake. (He did pick up some valuable science lessons while visiting specialists and the ER, though.) Needless to say, lesson plans (and every other sort of plan) flew out the window during this time.

When he recovered, though, he was ready to jump back into his studies and did so with a vengeance. (He’s a bit of a goal setter.) He decided to continue our schedule of year-round school and made up for lost time – he even graduated early, having maxed out his dual enrollment credits.

Flexibility is the only way we got through any of that.

And please know that I’m not writing any of this to brag on my kid…far from it. I’m writing it because I know that we’re not the only family that has met struggles, large or small. And I know that I’m not the only one that could use a reminder to allow flexibility into my day.

Flexible is good.

Wrapping It Up

How do you react when storms hit? Is flexibility something you embrace, or do you tend to shy away from it? Comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*Please note that your confirmation email will come from Jen at A Helping Hand Homeschool (hello@helpinghandhomeschool.com). Please “white list” this email address so you don’t miss it!

Related Posts:

7 Ways to Start Out Strong

Keeping It All Together

Joining In Community

Save

5 thoughts on “Real Life Homeschooling: Flexibility Is Key”

  1. Jennifer, you and your son have gone through the fire in so many ways and and come out as refined gold and sparkling gems. You are a blessing and encouragement to those who have the opportunity to know you. Thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom with others.

    1. Aww, thank you Cherie! I am so blessed to know you and your boy. And I’m happy to be able to encourage!

  2. Hey!!! I was homeschooled from preschool all the way to high school. My boy is only 15 months and I’m thinking about homeschooling him since my experience was so great. My mom was definitely flexible! I think that I need to learn both flexibility and discipline to make it work…

    1. Hi Emily, and welcome! That’s great to hear – I love to hear about both success stories and second generation homeschooling! I definitely agree that flexibility is a necessity, but that there is a balance. It takes some trial and error, but it’s so worth it! Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you’re here!

Let me know what you think!