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Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

10 Ways to Find Joy in Our {Catholic} Homeschool

It was the third week of Advent. My shoes were uncomfortable, my skirt did not fit right, my veil kept falling off and even the cushion on the kneeler beneath me felt bumpy. I looked up and shot my two sons one of those disapproving look and looked up at my husband and frowned. Tears swelled up in my eyes so I shut them quickly and created a dam for them with my eyelids. First tear rolled down. It was useless, I was sad. My thoughts raced. I opened my prayer book and something feel from it, a paper? a book mark?  And there it was, the answer to my frustration but I couldn’t really see, so I left it on the tile floor and closed my eyes to pray, “Dear Lord, what is wrong with me? Why am always so upset, bothered and angry? Why is it that my children do not listen? Why do they hate school so much?” My mind raced. I was going to THAT place again and Communion was coming up…I was feeling so sorry for myself, again.

How did I lose my joy?

Then I felt my four year old crawling over my legs to get to the other side of me.  Which annoyed me, of course.  But when I opened my eyes and wiped the tears away, I see his little hand reaching out to me, handing me a paper that had the answer to my frustrations.

34884-The-Joy-Of-The-Lord

I came to the realization that Joy does not simply happen to us. We must choose joy and keep choosing it daily! I spent the last two weeks working on finding my joy. I have to be honest: I felt lost.  So I turned to prayer, I asked for prayers and I begged God to help me, to guide me.  As I type this, tomorrow marks the end of the first week back to school after this discovery and after two weeks off of school on Christmas break. It was the most successful week in the entire six years we have been home educating.

Did I get upset at a child not doing what they were supposed to be doing? I sure did.  Did I loose my temper? No, there was no need. A quick redirection and back on task we were. But this only happened first thing in the morning. So, what happened? How did I find my joy? How did my children learn to love homeschooling again?

Well the week didn’t exactly start off with a happy note, but I was expecting this so I did not let it shake me. I was standing on firm ground with my husband on the same page as me, God my by side, my guardian angel helping me stay on task, and Our Blessed Mother holding my heart each time it felt like it would break. I was not going to allow anything, nor anyone steal my joy. Not even this journal entry written by my nine year old son:

"Today is our first day back to school after our Christmas break!!! Which I loath!!! Now I "have to" go back to school."
“Today is our first day back to school after our Christmas break!!! Which I loath!!! Now I “have to” go back to school.”

 

So what did I do to find my joy in out homeschool?  I came up and tried these ten simple things and guess what?  THEY WORKED!

1.) RULES AND SCHEDULE.

Review your house and school rules.   If you do not have rules established yet, this is the time to do it.  Go over the schedule and stick to it. Don’t have a schedule, make one!  Even if you hate schedules like I do, do it.  Trust me, you will thank me for it later.  Having a schedule helps you have a focal point for the day.  Even if it is as simple as this:

8AM Eat Breakfast
9AM Start School
12PM Eat Lunch
1PM Afternoon School
5PM Eat Lunch

2) NEW BOOKS.

Get new read aloud books for the children and also get a new book for yourself.  This year we got each child a book on a saint and then a book or set of books from a series for independent reading as Christmas presents.  We read during quiet time after lunch and also at bed time.

3) FREE PLAY.

Allow for more free play time.  Play is so underrated and children learn so much from just playing.  We got the children some horses, and a set of royal families and my eldest son made a castle for them.  This is what they love to play with the most right now.  I actually sat down and listened to them play today, they were reenacting scenes from books we have read…sweet!

4) TEACH ART.

Don’t teach Art?  Time to start!  Teaching Art adds spice to your school day! There are so many things available online for free for Art, there is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive programs!  This week I taught the color wheel and how to mix colors to make new colors.  Keep is simple and fun!

5) HANDS ON LEARNING.

Do hands on things like painting or sewing because crafts make this kind of learning possible.  Children remember more when they do things. I would love to add wood working to these tasks, but the weather will have to cooperate for this.  There is so much we can do from home.  I also planning on field trips to local museums that have hands on attractions.

6) TEACH MUSIC.

Don’t know anything about music?  Me neither but I can honestly say we are a music loving family.  Anyone can put a CD on and just sing!  Listen to music while you school and even in between schooling. Once they have learned a new song, record them!  Send them to relatives to see or if you are on social media, share it with friends!

7) LAUGH.

Introduce laughter into your day.  Read funny stories, tell jokes or read funny jokes!  My eldest son found this one comedian who is pretty good and funny, we listen to him all the time, in the car and in between school and supper.  My eldest was dictating spelling words and making up sentences with some of these jokes, we were in stitches!

8)  JOURNAL to TRANSITION.

While you are preparing breakfast, have them sitting at the kitchen table journaling already.  Journaling helps transition into the school day. Journaling is really simple to do, at first it is not so easy as the children have to get accustomed to doing it.  I wrote a whole article on this which you can read. Journaling also helps you see if your children are happy or not… (see journal entry above)

9) NEW WAYS to do OLD THINGS.

Find new ways to teach basic subjects.  There is a plethora of ideas available online.  Make a lap book, create a mini book, etc., so many other ways to learn than just a textbook or a workbook!

10) REST, READ, RELAX & PRAY

Last but not least, rest, read, and relax.  Mothers work so hard at home and school and we need to take care of outselves.  We need rest, we also need to feed our souls with good spiritual reading.  We also need to relax, the more I am on social media the more I realize we are so stressed about being on task and time and, and, comparing ourselves to others just kills joy.  Do not do this to yourself.  If something does not happen today, there is always tomorrow. Always, always, always turn to prayer when things are not going right.

How do you find joy in your homeschool day?  Here is my successful week in a slide show:

Categories
Charla Ink Slingers Motherhood Vocations

Back-to-School Blues

school
It is that time of year, when most of us are going back to school. The start of the school year affects most people in one way or another. Whether you are a teacher, a parent, a student, or any working person, back-to-school days are bittersweet– exciting, yet mournful; happy, yet solemn.
I am a teacher and a mom. Back to school for me, means many things:
1) My vacation is over. I use the summer vacation to recharge. No matter what your opinion is of a teacher’s schedule, deserved or undeserved. One hundred eighty days of high energy individuals not only inspire, but they also drain the energy from those who are entrusted to their care and education. It takes a lot to love so many children, and it is truly a gift from God to be able to do so day in and day out. So, yes, I do need a vacation—a long one.
2) I have to be without my kids. I know some parents are relieved when their kids go back to school, but for me, there is a little pleasure in letting go, even if only from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. The summers, for me, are filled with sleeping in, trips to the zoo, afternoons at the pool, and daily Mass. I get to have lunch with my kids every day. It is sad for me to be without them.
3) My kids are getting older. The years with my children have flown by. I have one more year until my oldest, a senior in high school, goes off to college. Each back-to-school time brings my family closer and closer to life-changing moments. This year holds a high school graduation and First Communion for us. Exciting rites of passage like these begin with the start of a new school year.
4) I get to meet a brand new batch of students with whom I will fall in love. As I entrust my kids to other teachers, I am able to pay it forward. I can express my love for my own children and give it to the children of others, if at least just from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm.
5) The most important thing that all this means is that I understand my vocation best at this time of year, even more profoundly than at any other time. I realize that God placed me here to care for others. My job is to help them all grow in one way or another—intellectually, physically, socially, and, most of all, spiritually.
My own children are a part of me. I am given by God a great responsibility as a mother to help them become what God has intended. I lead them in the ways of the Church; I nourish them with food and spiritual nourishment. I love them and educate them. Back-to-school for us as a family is a natural progression of life. It signifies the process that God has put in place, the passing of time and the movement closer and closer to Himself. My children are a true extension of myself and the older they get, the closer they are to God’s purpose for them.
As for my students, I am fortunate enough to teach at a Catholic school where I am always able explore the spiritual side of myself and my students. Back-to-school as a teacher enables me to move further and further outside of myself. It means I get to influence, and be affected by, a hundred different souls every year—some of these years better than others, but all of them a part of God’s plan for me.
Back-to-school is bittersweet, but oh so very necessary in what I call life. God gives me an opportunity to extend myself further and further through my own children and to those whom I “mother” at school. The excitement of a new school year is my opportunity to develop grace and bring myself closer to my purpose.