Balance in Your Homeschool

 Janita Pavelka and I talked about balance in the homeschool.  She followed the Moore Method:  Comparable amounts of Academics, Manual Labour and Service in her day.

This sounded familiar to me, a Benedictine monastic at heart.  Our family has striven for equal amounts of prayer, work and leisure in our daily practices as we homeschool.   We keep a balance, we do things in moderation, we try to avoid excess.

When I look at the studies of healthy, elderly people, especially centenarians, it’s not that they don’t ever do anything harmful to their bodies, they just don’t do it excessively.

Eating cake and ice cream is all right in moderation.

Attending church regularly is good.

Drinking caffeine and being lazy for a while is a treat.

I agree with Janita that we need to work towards balance in our children’s lives that they may grow up well rounded and able to listen to their bodies and know when to step back and take a breather, to change focus.

Oh, I can hear you saying,

“That’s all well and good for some but I have eight children and a house to clean, laundry to do, shopping to fetch and meals to cook.  I’m having a time of it keeping my life in balance let alone my children’s.  As long as they get their school done then that’s all I’m worried about!”

Perhaps as busy Mums we would be wise to shed the ideal that “mother does it all.”  I had to drop my standards a little, well a lot really, when I roped my crowd into housework, cooking and grocery shopping, but it did help me manage my balancing act.

When Janita described the businesses her children had, and they are all little entrepreneurs, I began to think,

“Wow, I never knew you could do that, turn a lot of normal activities into potential money spinners.”

As a family they sell products on line, board horses, buy and sell jewellery from Peru.  These activities give her children the opportunity to use what they’re learning academically and make it work financially for them…or not.  Over the ten years they’ve been homeschooling some of their businesses have been successful some have not.  They’ve all added experience!

My mind started working as I thought how I as a homeschooler could balance my days and the days of my children?  Janita had sown a seed.

A lot of things we do daily overlap in the areas of Academics/Work, Labour/Play and Service/Prayer.  Business dealings with math or social skills; cleaning the house with exercise; listening to music with Arts learning and relaxation for example.

In the monastery prayer is placed firmly to the fore, and rightly so.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all this will be given unto you.” (Mathew 6:33)

Unlike the monastery we do not expect our children to arise in the middle of the night to pray the hours, but we do make sure our day is opened and closed with prayer and pop in a noonday devotion to balance things out.

So, let’s look at a 24 hour day.

In our house two things had to be accomplished otherwise we would be unbalanced and miserable.

One, sleep.  Imagine not getting enough sleep? We wouldn’t dream of letting our children shirk on this essential commodity, and we as adults should not either.  That’s 8 hours out of the day used up in gentle slumbering.

Two, nourishment.  Eating is the next most important commodity.  This may take about 4 hours when preparation and clean up are included, longer if it is an elaborate meal, but for the sake of argument let’s just say, 4 hours.

That leaves us 12 hours.

There have been times in our house when a community service activity at the theatre has meant we use up a lot of our available balancing hours on one activity, but in the end things do even out if prudence is employed.

With no compelling Community Service we have any number of things to squeeze into those twelve hours:  private prayer, academics, house cleaning, bed making, trash disposal, dishes, laundry, baking, cooking, dreaming, mass, walking, reading, listening, participating in youth group, watching a film, playing at the park, napping, performing in a show, ballet, gymnastics, rough and tumble with each other, bath-time, and hobbies, to name but a few.

Whew, all of a sudden 12 hours doesn’t seem so long does it?

Never fear!  After prayers and academics some of the other activities overlap, a science project could be a hobby counting as academics and play.  Theatre and dance can be recreation and service as well as academics.  Of course reading, listening and music can all fulfill leisure and academics. The busy day begins to fall into balance just as Matthew says it will.

My children have learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels while reciting their math facts; we’ve had spelling B’s in the car while shuttling from one activity to another; life problems have been discussed over sandwich making; memories tested while dusting.

Twelve hours!  Variety will do the trick of balance.

Manual labour was a stretch in our house, my blue eyed cowboy did all the grunt work and my children may or may not help, depending on the project.  Building an addition onto the house, or adding a bathroom upstairs, stirred their imaginations so we had a fair share of labour during those seasons in our lives.

Anything that works up a sweat counts for me, so come on board housework!   Other work included cleaning up after a game, making beds, wiping splashes off mirrors, weeding the garden or potting plants, kneading bread or mashing potatoes.  These activities all contributed to the children’s sense of responsibility and not taking things for granted.

Can you see how we parents can be freed up too?

If I train my children to balance their day with things they have to do, things they don’t like to do and things they love to do…

I can too!


Share this:

No comments so far!

Leave a Comment