Remember Assignment #3? Let’s keep going on your Teacher’s Planner:
Assignment #7: Balance!
Back to your Teacher’s Planner, once again. Let’s make this happen in your homeschool! Your Planner can become your compass, your brain, and your goals for your children’s upbringing. Don’t try to make it nice and neat. It has to be in worksheet format, scribbles here and there, to work out right. My natural tendencies make me want to type it all up and print it up and organize it. But children are changing growing beings. And your Teacher’s Planner has to be that way too, because if you type it up and print it off, you aren’t going to like jotting something on that nice neat paper, or crossing something out and wrecking the page because then you’ll feel like you have to update it, and it will be burdensome. So, leave it “worksheet-y” and you’ll be happier. Believe me.
If you have a zippered pencil pocket case handy that fits in your binder, or can pick one up at Wal-Mart for 88¢, that works well. Put it in the front of your binder and add just pencils and pens in there, and paper clips. No library card, bills, or lipstick, etc. This is not your purse, nor your calendar planner, nor your household info. This is your work: what you bring to homeschool daily, just like your kids bring their Student Planners. It is your homeschool brains, so your own brain can be free to be creative. Don’t muck it up with other mothering/wife/housekeeper stuff. Keep it homeschooling/child raising (which is one in the same thing).
If you are up-to-date with your assignments, you have a binder, with a section divider for each child, from oldest to youngest, with paper behind each name for ideas that come to you while you are working with each child. Right?
Now, print off a “Balance Page” on colored paper and put it behind each child’s name divider, right after the first page where your notes are. I like to use colored paper so I can spot it quickly. So, I have 7 children and 7 yellow Balance pages are spread throughout my Teacher’s Planner. The idea is to create 4 boxes, representing the four areas of a person’s being. I get the four sections from the verse Luke 2:52—”And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man”. These areas represent four dimensions of human development: Mental, Physical, Spiritual, And Social.
When we homeschool our children, we are really striving to do what is best for them in raising them into a good, balanced adults. The word “homeschool” suggests academics, or the area of the person entitled “Mental”. But really, “home schooled” means “home educated” or better yet, “home trained”. Teaching our children only academics would obviously not prepare them for life. We must train them in each dimension of a person’s being in order to truly educate them.
Now, evaluate your children. Begin at the oldest, and do one child per day, or per week, if that is what it takes. How is he doing in each area? Is there balance? Is he challenged? Is he growing and developing? What are you doing, as his mother, to create opportunities for growth in each of the four areas? If you have put all your efforts into academic studies, your child might be heavy on “Mental” and lagging in the other 3 areas. Taking a look at your child as a whole person (with 4 areas of need) will help you balance your efforts. Don’t get overwhelmed with what comes to mind. Raising a child is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. You are just taking your child’s “temperature”; so to speak, to determine what state he is in, as far as being balanced.
Now, at the bottom of the page, list the days of the week in a column, as well as what activities your child is involved in. Extra activities can be very useful in helping you create a balance. They can also drive you crazy if you have lots of little ones and you spend too much time in the van running kids here and there. Decide what area of your child’s being (Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Social) you are striving to develop with that activity. If the activity is not creating balance, it might be time to cut it out of your life.
Here is what I strive to do:
Mental—this includes schoolwork, academics, music studies and more. I really try to help them follow their areas of interest in learning. This takes up the whole morning when you are homeschooling.
Spiritual—we have at-home gospel lessons to teach our children about God, attend church, sing hymns, read the scriptures as a family. I assign memory verses (1 x week) or poem memorization (just the good stuff, so their minds are always full of uplifting, meaningful thoughts), their own personal scripture study, prayer, journaling, etc.
Physical—setting fitness goals, involving them in sports (I insist on this because I think they need the exercise and coordination, as well as the teamwork), learning how to select nutritious foods, eating right, sleep time goals, looking good, grooming, hygiene, having dental work up to date, etc. etc.
Social—okay, so here is where most homeschoolers go AWOL. Social means learning to interact and get along with people, and it takes a lot of practice to do this smoothly. Kids need best friends. I put a lot of work into this area by hosting playdates, clubs, parties, dances, campouts and more to involve others in our lives. It also means learning to use your time to bless others–serving, befriending someone who needs a friend, visiting the older ladies in the neighborhood, etc. Kids need to have friends and interact with others outside the family. I put expectations on my kids. They want to homeschool, and I tell them: If you homeschool full time, you must have 2 scheduled “play dates” per week. You can’t just be non-social.
As a side note, I don’t let my kids do video or computer games. I only allow educational computer programs (typing, music ace, math fact drill, etc.) and time to email their friends and relatives, and no games. If we watch TV, I prefer it to be educational videos that I get from the library, old classic movies, old television series from an innocent time, or conservative movies of great people in history; and I am most often with them while they watch, and I limit them. The TV and video games can be such big time wasters.
I also planned for “baby duty” when I had young children, meaning a older child was assigned to a younger child for 30-45 min to read aloud, play games with, take on a nature walk, practice their colors or numbers, etc. I assigned that on their chore chart with a specific time—4:00 to 4:45 pm (for example) rotating between little ones. This was a way for the child to learn service and to become closer with their sibling. Bonds the kids, and lightens Mom’s load.
Just because you have a chart with daily slots doesn’t mean you want or need to fill them all up. You can have balance without running faster than you are able. Take your time at creating your balance page. It is a work in progress, really, because activities change (the scoutmaster changes and this one takes your son on lots of camp-outs so his social needs are better met, for example). You will want to assess your children’s balance charts from time to time as the year goes on to make sure they are still working for you.
Once you get your child’s chart filled out, you can see where you are going overboard, and where you are lacking. Our goal is a balanced child, who is nourished in every dimension of his personality!
Best success to you!