Homeschooling ABC’s: J, K, and L

Sand beach alphabet: letters J, K  and L

With this post we’re officially half-way through our “Homeschooling ABC’s” journey.  I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts!  If nothing else, you’ve got to love the picture above.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a trip to the beach.  The sun and the surf…I love ’em!

J is for Jocularity: Isn’t that a great word?  Jocularity.  It just sounds cheerful.  One of the definitions of jocularity is “fun characterized by humor.”  And let’s face it, it helps to have a good sense of humor when you’re homeschooling!  Amidst the messes and the math drills and the running around to baseball games and dance lessons, it helps to have a frame of mind that can see the humor in a situation.

I’ll give you an example.  A couple of years ago one of my sons (he was about 17 at the time) heated up some homemade chop suey in the microwave to have for his lunch.  As he was removing the bowl from the microwave it somehow slipped from his hands and crashed to the floor.  Chop suey went flying everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.  There was about a 10 foot radius of chop suey all over the kitchen…and elsewhere.  It was on the ceiling.  It was on the floor and walls of the entryway.  It was all over the kitchen cabinets.  It was really extraordinary what a mess that one bowl of chop suey managed to make.

My response?  “You’re lucky I’m in a good mood today.”  And I was.  And HE was.  Lucky, that is!  It took a good thirty minutes (at least) to clean up the mess and there are still grease stains on the ceiling today.  And yes, we can joke and laugh about it now, but he was definitely lucky I was in a good mood that day!

One way to ensure that you can better face those “chop suey moments” is to take care of yourself as a homeschool mom.  Make sure you get your rest, eat well, and figure in some down time.  It’s a lot easier to deal with those daily disasters when we’re in a good mood!  And keep in mind that a good, dry sense of humor can diffuse many situations.  Look for the irony.  Appreciate the physics that go into the mess that one dropped bowl of chop suey (or oatmeal, or *name that food*) can make.  Laugh with your children.  Embrace joy.  Your kids will be very thankful for it and you will enjoy the homeschooling journey more fully as well!

K is for Keeping It Real: When we homeschool it’s hard to fool our kids.  What I mean is that our children see us at our best…and our worst.  Yes, we are dealing with training, disciplining, managing and teaching our kids, but we are still a work-in-progress as well, aren’t we?

There’s no such thing as a perfect homeschool mom.  And for that matter, many of us aren’t particularly patient by nature either.  But that’s okay.  We don’t have to be perfect, or perfectly patient.  We don’t even have to all be grinding our own flour or sewing our own clothes.

The important thing is to be ourselves.  God gave your kids to you, after all.  Not to that other homeschooling mom, who has it all together (by the way, in case you haven’t figured it out already, NONE of us has it all together!)

Keeping it real means, as I pointed out above, that it helps to have a sense of humor.

Keeping it real means that your vocabulary should include two very important words: “I’m sorry.”  You’re going to screw up.  That’s okay.  Ask for forgiveness from your kids.  (I’ve found my children are probably the most forgiving people in my life!)  The fact that you are an example to your kids means that you’re also an example of a fallible human being who knows how to apologize when you mess up.  That’s an important example to set.

It’s okay to be real with your kids.  It’s okay to say, “I’m not having a good day today.  How about we put the books away and head to the park?”  (I’d suggest picking up pizza on the way home too!)  Cut yourself some slack.  Give yourself a break.  Your kids aren’t expecting you to be the perfect mom, just their mom.

L is for Living Books: I spoke about using “living books” in my post on the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling.  Living books are, well, books that you read – the kind of books that you find at the library or that are filling your own shelves – as opposed to textbooks, workbooks, etc.

Living books can be used as a primary source for your curriculum or to supplement your curriculum.  For instance, you could use historical fiction, such as the G.A. Henty novels, as part of a unit study or to give flavor to a standard curriculum.

You could use biographies of famous scientists like Johannes Kepler or Louis Pasteur (which I’m reading right now with my son) to supplement your science curriculum.

There’s nothing quite like cuddling up on the couch with the kiddies to have family reading time.  Or perhaps reading aloud is part of your bedtime routine (and yes, that counts as “homeschooling” so don’t forget to include it in your portfolio!)  When my kids were younger we went through the Boxcar Children series.  In later years we found the Ralph Moody series to be not only entertaining, but also very inspirational.

I know I might be preaching to the choir here, but the use of living books can be one of the most powerful (and fun) aspects of your homeschool.  What I would encourage you to do is think outside the box.  Consider where you can use living books to add excitement, inspiration, adventure and enjoyment to any and every part of your curriculum.  It works!

So, to wrap up, remember to keep your sense of humor, keep it real, and keep on reading!