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Tuesday March 5th 2024

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Homeschooling Starting Points: Simply Watch the Dust Settle

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Homeschooling Starting Points:

Simply Watch the Dust Settle

By Linda Dobson

homeschoolingYou’ve just finished tonight’s chapter of the family’s bedtime book and tucked the last child into bed. As you descend the stairs your eyes scan the living room: There are three gaps on the bookshelf where the D, K, and S encyclopedias belong; tiny pieces of magazine and newspaper pages, along with the scissors and glue, are scattered across the floor (are those pieces on the coffee table glued into place?); the telescope lies inside the front door – barely; the desk drawers yawn back at you, still open from the mad search for paper clips.

The kitchen, you soon see, looks even worse.

Do you spend the rest of your evening vacuuming, wiping, and straightening up?

No. In the morning, available pairs of hands will help. (You may want to pick up the scissors!)

If you’re a neat freak, the thought of having your kids creating and exploring in and around the house all day could lead you to scream, “Not me!” But you’d be thinking with your “old” mind.

With some exceptions, homeschooling parents say they begin each day doing household chores – as a family. From cleaning up yesterday’s mess to laundry to dusting to gardening to window washing, kids are capable of a lot more household responsibility than we normally allow them. But you’ll have to change your standards and settle for what I lovingly call “kid cleaned.”

Homeschooling and “Kid Cleaned”

“Kid cleaned” means some of the laundry will be put in the right pile, some of the dust will be displaced by the cloth and some of the library books will be readily found when you need them again. “Kid cleaned” means most of the dishes don’t have egg on them, most of the rug will be visible after a vacuuming, and most of the garbage has found its mark. “Kid cleaned” means all do whatever they can to contribute, all realize they are part of a cooperative group effort, and all will, eventually, know how to do it all.

Granted, you will not likely invite Good Housekeeping photographers for a tour of the house and you are likely to apologize (frequently) to visitors for the inconvenience of having to sidestep the replica Roman Villa (complete with aqueducts) that graces your driveway.

For your sanity’s sake, just think of your home as a learning laboratory where resident scientists conduct experiments in the field of life. As a science laboratory must, of necessity, stay cluttered with materials the scientists need so, too, does your home overflow with the tools of your children’s very important trade called learning. When you consider your home as the location of a grand experiment in a better way of life, it’s easier to look at the mess as a minor inconvenience that leads to major accomplishments.

Homeschooling Experiment #44:

We’ll Have You Fix Your Own Dinner

Oldest child resists. Middle child thinks it will be great fun. She heads straight for the biggest bowl in the house ready to create a salad for her and me. Suggested a smaller, “big” bowl. Oldest child thrilled when he learns he can make fried eggs. Squeezes two out of three yolks to oblivion while cracking. Upset with appearance, but he perseveres.

I prepare bacon and youngest decides to try yellow eggs (scrambled). Oldest child watches over these from his post in front of the stove. Middle child has most of the refrigerators contents scattered across the table for use in the salad. Before she can finish her masterpiece I stand helplessly, pot holders in hand, watching smoke billow out of the oven. The bacon is extra, extra crispy but served, nevertheless.

Fried egg yolks turn rubbery. Middle child drowns the salad in a whole bottle of Italian dressing. Youngest decides he doesn’t like yellow eggs, but has two of everything else.

Results: Oldest child – “It’s not the best, but it will do.”

Middle child – “Next time I’ll put in more lettuce and less dressing.”

Youngest child – Tried something new.

Let the kids use the house. Let the kids clean up the house. While their playmates sit and read books about self-responsibility and grow up thinking Mom is a synonym for maid, your kids live self-responsibility and realize Mom is but one of the team that is your family.

Homeschooling: Simply watch the dust settle.

homeschoolingWant to know about the 11 other “Homeschooling Starting Points” are? Read The 15th Anniversary e-Book Edition of The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self by Linda Dobson. 250+ pages and just $4.99!
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