In my opinion, you cannot give your child a decent education if you cannot be consistent.
This is not to say that I think homeschoolers need to achieve perfection.
None of us are perfect people, perfect Christians, perfect wives, perfect parents, or perfect homeschoolers.
Even though perfection alludes us on this earth, consistency with schoolwork is possible.
Another word for consistent is harmonious. Remember that word from this series? *w*
Consistency means dependability.
It is the opposite of erratic and irregular.
One way we "find harmony" as homeschooling parents is through being consistent with our teaching of our children. An example from Leigh Bortins book "Echo in Celebration" (available free in PDF form online) that really stuck with me was this one:
(I'm paraphrasing and adapting it to illustrate my point here.)
Jayne's grandma had a cow.
The cow got milked every day.
Whether it was raining, snowing, or the sun was shining the cow got milked.
The day Jayne's grandma died, the cow got milked.
The day the relatives came for the funeral the cow got milked.
The day after the funeral the cow got milked.
Are our children's educations of less importance than the cow?
Though we would initially say "No!" to this question, our actions will tell the true answer.
We always have time for the things we want to have time for.
A person who owns a cow makes time to milk that cow.
Do we consistently make time for the kid's lessons even when it cuts into our own agenda?
Do we model a love for learning and reading for our children on a regular basis?
Do we demand excellence from our kids or let them do just enough to scrape by?
Do we strive for school to be "easy" and fun above all else?
Do we cancel school when we're having a rough day or feeling lazy?
Do we allow our kids 100 days off from schoolwork and reading and learning during the summer months?
I know many, many homeschooling parents. While the majority are doing their best to teach their children and give them an excellent education, I know that consistency can be a struggle for many families. Life is full and there are many interruptions. If it hard for people to commit to events and groups, then you can imagine how hard it is for parents to not want to give up when schoolwork demands sacrifice and struggle.
It isn't easy, and it takes a LOT of discipline.
Consistency is of extreme importance to our children's education.
If you can't provide consistency for your children, I think your children are better off in public or private school.
Some families will approach academics more rigorously than others. Some will spend 8 hours a day doing school and others only 2. Some will want to include lots and lots of extra-curriculars or foreign languages and other families will stick with the basics. What books you use and what teaching method and what extras and crafts you do are less important than the fact that you remain dependable about carving out time for learning on a regular basis.
When moms ask me for advice on homeschooling I tell them that, after reliance on the Lord, personal discipline is the key to successful homeschooling. There are lots of great curriculums on the market, but it won't matter which one you buy if you are not faithful to use it! I knew that I lacked discipline when Ali was a preschooler. My life was pretty chaotic, with 3 kids 3 and under, and how each day went depended largely on whether or not I got any sleep the night before or how many kids were sick or had diaper blowouts. It was an exhausting season of life.
However, I knew that in a couple of years, Ali would be starting school. I knew that jumping in from "uber-flexible mode" to daily schooling would be hard for me. So, I slowly began to build school time into our days. We did morning Bible stories and songs together. My parents paid for Ali to attend Christian pre-school for a year and that helped us get into more of a "school mode." When she was 4, we did a little bit of school each day, working on fun projects, crafts, and reading lots of library books together. By the time she did start homeschooling officially we were in a habit of making time for school studies in our busy days.
Each year, as my kids get older and need to spend more and more time on schoolwork and reports, our time spent homeschooling grows. This means we have less time for some of the activities and playdates that we used to enjoy. I ignore the phone during school time and have to put chores and laundry on hold for later in the day. It requires my own committment first and foremost because I am the model my kids will follow. If I am ready and excited about school every morning, they will get on board and join me. I have found that 8am-11am is the best time for productivity at our house, so if we waste those hours, getting schoolwork done becomes a much harder task. I have found that for our own family, jumping into school immediately after breakfast is the best way for us to get on task and accomplish what we need to for the day. Dirty dishes may sit in the sink, but they will wait. We can get to the chores later; studying and learning are more important ways to utelize our best hours of the day. There are times we have to be flexible, like our 2 weeks of homeschool swimming lessons every fall, but this is our plan for the majority of our school year.
An excellent education requires consistency.
I love that Classical Conversations helps parents remain consistent with weekly support and accountability, yearly training practicums (which are offered for FREE!), and outstanding content that truly raises the bar for kids in our culture today, who have little, if any, understanding of History, English Grammar, Latin, Science, Geography, and also have a lack of ability to speak well in front of an audience. By consistently working on memory work and memorizing a little each week, CC students come away from their school year retaining most of what they've studied and knowing more than most people learn in college.
If consistency is a problem for you, get some help!
Talk to some experienced homeschool moms about what has helped them to be consistent with schoolwork. Find a trusted person you can pray with about growth in consistency. Join a homeschool co-op or a CC group if you have one in your area. If you order curriculum packages, join an online forum or fb page related to the program and check in with people weekly, sharing joys and struggles. Put your phone or internet in lockdown for certain hours if it helps you avoid distractions.
The kids will model your behavior.
If you make studying a priority, they will follow in your footsteps!
Milk the cow!