Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling- Flow, Grow and Tools
I've written before about how I like to over plan for school- knowingly planning too much stuff at the outset and then when school hits going with the flow. This requires that I know what I'm doing- that I have my budget decided upon, I know where to acquire things from, have my curriculum, books and supplies gathered, my support in place (co-ops, class days, outsourcing) my books binned and carted, my CD's in their basket- in other words, stuff ready to roll.
At this point, homeschooling is not difficult work for me. It's been my vocation for a couple of decades, I've written a Master's thesis about it, spoken about it, blogged about it, started class-days, co-ops and Mom's groups- it's what I've done. I love education, I love kids, I love teaching. The only thing missing is money and more time.
Enter the working world. I'm currently working in a job that uses my degrees, is challenging, boasts a terrific corporate culture and compensates well. But I haven't been in the working world for awhile. Yes, I'm fairly familiar with computers but I'm the farthest thing from a computer nerd and so I've been on a bit of a learning curve of late. My job isn't IN computers but my job is possible because of computers.
Maybe you are on that same learning curve. Maybe you've been a working Mom and just brought your kids home to school. Or like me, you've homeschooled long enough to have your favorite curriculum catalogs and your routine is so established it s a no-brainer,  but you are now returning to work. Either way, you are growing. Growing is good. But like my 14 year old exhibits daily, it requires extra calories that are nutritious, more sleep than normal and plenty of fresh air and time to mull. Even with all of that, growing pains  and occasional break-downs are still just part of the routine. Growth is challenging. Growth also messes up our established routines and habits. We have undergone a massive transition this year. Our established routines are dis-established. Our habits are out of whack. We are in transition as we re-evaluate what is working and not working. We haven't don't much "flow" this year and we have realized that some of the tools that have been wonderful in the past just don't fit anymore.
Here's my advice. Be nice to yourself. Be gentle as you learn the ropes of either your job or of how to homeschool. It's O.K. not to know everything, to make mistakes, to ask questions. My supervisor gave me a great gift by telling that she expected me to be asking questions for at least a year. Pshew. What a relief. And as much as I hate to do it- having gained some mastery in an area or two over the years, the fact of the matter is that at certain things I'm a newbie. And I'm discovering whole new areas in which I'm challenged and I have to ask questions, make mistakes and admit I've messed up. So not my favorite thing to do. But necessary if I'm going to learn the job and have the ability to do it well.
To keep growing we have to find the experts in the areas we want to grow. Not everyone who claims to be an expert is. Not everyone speaking publicly or publishing books is either. Have discernment and choose people in the areas you need to grow in - while I've read many, many books on education, there are some I just wouldn't recommend to anyone. 
Like the chart at the top states, eliminate distractions and gather your tools. For me, this meant purchasing a new computer. For you it might mean buying a 3-hole punch or a printer, or a camera, or going to a conference, or making time to listen to MP3's of great homeschooling leaders. One of the greatest lessons I learned during our house rebuild was this: Set up and tear down often take as long as the actual task. The correct tools can make the difference between success and not happening.
I know not everyone is in the position to buy a new computer. Frankly, we looked at it as an investment. I couldn't do the job without it and it will make the time I'm at work infinitely more efficient.

Eliminating distractions has been more difficult. While I love our first floor open floor plan, working out of it is not very time efficient. Mainly because there are a zillion distractions. Growing often means learning how to manage distractions.
For investment's sake I treat homeschooling pedagogy and curriculum from an eliminate the distractions pove- the classical method simplifies most everything imho. We invest in non-consumables, simple and effective curriculum that does what it says it's going to to do, without costing a fortune. Distractions in the homeshcool world include but are not limited to the siren song of Look, you don't have to try out stuff just because someone else says it's good or it works for their kid. My 14 year old does not and will not enjoy activity books or lap books, period. Investing in curriculum like that for him is a distraction and causes us both to suffer.
Gather your (management) tools. Evernote and Google Doc seem to be the tools of choice for a whole lot of Working Homeshcoolers. There's apps and daytimers and wall calendars. The important thing is to get something that works for you and use it. I like the thought of on-line apps but at heart I'm a paper and pencil gal and still need a calendar to write in. On Day #1 I talked about "Knowing Yourself." Know which tools will work for you.  Just like the best curriculum is that which you take down off the shelf and use, so too the best planning tools are the ones that you utilize. Management tools for our homeschool are simple- a list for each kid outlining their curriculum, coded by text, workbook, CD, MP3, PDF, on-line, etc. Train them to use the list. Ka-bam.

Call to Action
Inventory 3 areas you need to grow in and set SMART goals.
Identify 3 distractions to work and homeschool and set SMART goals to eliminate them.
Research 3 tools that would make your work and homeshcool more effective. Determine how to aquire them.

Be sure to stop by my fellow Crewbies for some more great reading this week.
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Planning Your Homeschool Year
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings ~ Family Friendly Finger Food
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Also be sure to head over to Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to see what all 60 of my fellow crew members are blogging about this week for their 5 day blog hop!

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