Putting the Home Back in Our Homeschool

We haven’t left the house in four days. Thanks to an unwelcome visit from The Polar Vortex, who tore into town on 40 mph winds and decided this was a nice place to set up camp and unload his collection of snow, ice and frigid, below-zero temps with wind chills that plummeted to depths so cold, I swear I saw a Woolly Mammoth trudge past the house (or maybe it was the snow plow, it’s kind of hard to see through frost-covered windows).

Schools were closed (no big deal, we homeschool), libraries were closed (a little bit of a deal since we have a plethora of books checked out, but thankfully online renewals are a thing), church services were canceled, the girl scouts took a week off and even the mail didn’t come  — no, we weren’t one of the towns who officially suspended mail delivery, so I suspect this was a personal decision on the part of our mail carrier (can’t really fault her for not wanting to drive on our rural, hilly, iced-over, Woolly Mammoth-infested road).

Needless to say, all of our extracurricular activities and homeschool co-ops were canceled. And so, in place of our usually jam-packed, on-the-go week, we were forced into a week of hibernation. No complaints here, I welcomed the reprieve from the whirlwind that has somehow become our routine and embraced the chance to sleep in a little, read a lot, catch up on the things we’ve been trying to get up to speed with since the holidays, and reconnect with the place that is the heart of our homeschool, our home.

It was lovely. I cooked three meals a day, prepared homemade snacks and drank coffee from a cup that didn’t have a lid. And because we had nowhere to go, we worked on lessons without the pressure of the clock, endlessly ticking a reminder that it was almost time to get to theater class or co-op or the eye doctor or wherever it is that we always seem to have to be.

This is what I miss about how we used to homeschool. When the kids were younger it was so much easier to just gather every day around the kitchen table and go over lessons, snuggle on the couch for read-aloud time, or cook balanced meals while they worked on their studies. As the years have passed, however, their interests have grown beyond the home, and in pursuit of friendships and activities, we’ve shifted to a new routine where we attend not one, but two co-ops a week. This, combined with music classes, clubs, church ministries and errands like groceries, orthodontist appointments and additional gatherings with friends and I’ve somehow become married to my car. And I don’t even like my car.

Does their schooling suffer? It does not; because we manage to work around our various appointments, schooling in the early morning before we leave, or after we return, and on our actual “at-home” days. And the co-ops, classes and ministries all fit nicely into either core subjects or electives. Honestly, they get more from this than they ever would simply staying at home doing bookwork, but I miss the freedom, the relaxed state of regularly homeschooling in our actual home.

It’s funny, usually a week of being snowbound would have me crying cabin fever after the second day. But this time around, I was so grateful for the forced slowdown, I really never longed to leave the house. Like the kids, I also missed our friends and the camaraderie that comes from being part of a homeschool tribe, but I also know they will still be there next week, when the snow melts and life turns back to “normal.” For now, I’m enjoying the break, sipping my still-hot coffee and thinking about how to perfect my time management skills so they can have their friends and activities, but we still get to put some of the home back into our homeschool.


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