Today marks the beginning of Heart of the Matter‘s Homeschool Blog Hop. I am so excited! Every week day for the next two weeks you will find a plethora of homeschool blog posts. Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to all the other great homeschooling mamas who are participating.
My wonderful husband and I have been so very blessed with many children. Before we start let me introduce you to my area of expertise (ha!), my large family:
Truffle (9), Bon Bon (15), Cookie (6), Mr. Ferrero Rocher, Hershey (1), Me, Brownie (12), Special Dark (4), Semisweet (14), Fudge (8)
One peculiarity you may have noticed – 7 of our 8 children are girls! Poor little Special Dark has to deal with six older sisters telling him what to do. It may come as no surprise that he spends as much time with Dad on the farm as he possibly can. Special Dark is sincerely hoping that baby #9 due in July is a boy. That’s right, we have another one on the way, and we couldn’t be more excited! Out here on our farm in Northern Nevada we like to grow children as well as alfalfa hay. ☺
Now that you know a little about us, let’s get started on homeschooling with a large family!
One of the first questions I’m asked when people find out I homeschool all eight of my children is, “How are you able to teach all of them at the same time?”
My reply usually goes something like this, “We have built a good structure for our homeschool, one that we are all able to rely on.”
The typical response to this is, “Huh?” So let me explain.
What is the first thing that happens when a house is built? A good solid foundation is laid. Then a basic framework structure is built on which the walls and roof rest. Remember the parable Jesus gave of the wise man who built his house upon a rock?
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Matthew 7: 24-25 KJV)
A solid foundation and structure are necessary for any good thing to last. Our families, our bodies, our homes all endure when built upon a solid foundation and around a solid structure. The same holds true for our homeschools.
Some of us have one child we are homeschooling, others of us have 3, 4, 5 or more. Regardless of how many we have, we all can benefit from a firm foundation and stable structure. You probably already have somewhat of a framework in place like specific mealtimes, bed times, wake up times, time for devotional, etc. Some call this a schedule, I like to call it a structure. It seems to have more meaning and becomes more of a necessity when thought of in that way.
It took me a few years to realize the importance of having a reliable structure in place. There were so many “good things” I wanted to do, too many “good things,” so much so that those which were most needful were sometimes neglected. The ‘rocks and sand analogy’ presented by Stephen R. Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, came to mind. I realized that I was filling my days with sand and pebbles first, all the fun things I wanted to do that are good but not totally necessary, leaving little room for the rocks (my family, my home, scripture study, physical health, etc). I was doing everything in the wrong order! Worse still, my children were learning from my bad example.
Big changes needed to be made.
My husband and I, together, decided what sort of structure we wanted. The basics included: family devotionals with scripture reading and prayers, specific bedtimes and wake-up times as well as mealtimes, chores, family time, and, of course, a set time for homeschool. Once we had the basic structure in place we followed it until it became a habit. Then we added the walls and roof, or in other words, the extras like hobbies, playtime, extra-curricular activities, work projects, service, etc.
Here are a few tips to help you build your structure for your home and homeschool:
1) Decide what your basics are, those things that are the most important for you to accomplish. Each family is unique and has diverse goals. Your list will look different from mine. That is okay!
2) Be reasonable in setting time frames. Think of how long it typically takes to accomplish certain tasks setting aside a sufficient amount of time to do them.
3) Be consistent. This one was the hardest for me. I get easily sidetracked. Asking my children to remind me to stick to the structure was a huge blessing. They loved being able to help mom stay on task.
4) Create a visual reminder of your structure. For us this meant creating an actual time chart to look at that was posted for all to see. My children and I knew what was expected of each of us. Looking at the chart kept us all accountable. The program that has helped the most for us has been Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell.
Since we first began building our framework I have “remodeled” our structure a little bit. Our homeschool structure includes one-on-one time with each child, as well as time for each of them to work together, the older ones helping the younger ones. It is amazing what a difference this has made to our homeschool! There is more time for each child with mom and they are developing special relationships with one another. We all have learned to be more responsible with our time, making sure the rocks are taken care of first before we fill in with pebbles and sand. Our foundation and structure is being built to last.
Tomorrow’s post….Running a One Room Schoolhouse.
Heart of the Matter has partnered with 16 of the most inspiring, lovely, and just plain awesome bloggers in the homeschool community to bring you 10 days, 160 posts full of resources for those starting out, burned out or need new ideas.
Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.
10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori | Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool | Delightful Learning