Building Forts

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When my kids wanted to build a fort today, I told them “Fine.” But then I yelled downstairs, “Only two blankets!”

You see, quite often, in the past, my kids have spent so much time and energy building their forts that they never actually have the energy or interest to play inside them before it is time to take their forts down.

As important as their creativity is, I also think it’s sad that in all that fort-building, they may never actually leave their childhood with vivid memories of being in their forts. So I try and help them by limiting how many blankets they get to use and it seems to work. From my seat upstairs, I can hear them now giggling and chatting from underneath their covers, playing games with their imagination.

If you will follow me for a moment, I’d like to say that the same kind of thing is often true for homeschooling moms. We home school moms can easily spend too much time “building our forts” like our kids.  We research, shop, organize, fuss, and plan so long and when everything is finally ready, we have very little energy or enthusiasm left over to actually teach our children every day, day in and day out, at home.

Moms of grade school children will approach me, wringing their hands, asking, “What math do you use?”  I don’t often answer this question directly. I usually ask them, “What have you been using?”  Many times, they answer me, “Nothing.” and their children are too old for them to be asking this question. That’s when I tell them to choose the program they’ve heard about, whatever it is, (it’s usually always a good one) and just start doing it.

I have to be very careful with this in my own life and by the grace of God, at times, I have often felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and restrain me when I was tempted to get caught up in details that aren’t essential. As a homeschooling mom, I want to actually teach my kids at home, not just play school with my kids.

The worst that could happen, that has happened to me, is the program I pay so much for doesn’t work.

No, actually, the worst that could happen is I don’t ever choose a program and my kids don’t learn something they need to learn and I fail them. (That sounds harsh, but I think that is true.)

The Lord has taught me to just choose a resource and teach from it, teach from it, teach from it everyday, day in, day out. Consistency is more important than novelty.

If something isn’t working well for whatever reason, the Lord has taught me the freedom to just throw it out right away and get started on something different as soon as possible (and often that is as soon as I can afford to replace it, which might be a while).

It’s like when your kids build a fort, climb into it, and it collapses for some reason.  The effort isn’t wasted.   Your kids learn from that experience and quickly adjust and build it differently the next time.

I’ve learned most of what I know about home schooling by just doing it. I know other home school moms would say the same thing.

Researching, planning, building, improving, organizing, and even decorating a home school can be fun (and overwhelming at times). But teaching my kids how to read or write or divide at home- that is the authentic home schooling experience I actually want. It’s like building forts, then crawling in them and making memories.

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