Choosing Homeschool Activities Wisely: Battling the Beast of Busyness
There are co-ops, field trips, classes. There are museums to visit, parks in which to take picnics, friends to visit. There are plays to see, library programs to attend, sports to play (one for each child at least). Most homeschoolers I know are as crazily busy as our family. The problem isn't the lack of socialization opportunities. The problem is too many really good things to choose from.
Too often I fall into the trap of too much busyness. I can't choose to leave out anything. I fill our schedules full of so many good things. And then reality hits. We are tired. We spend too much money. We don't have time to get any book work done. Can you relate?
Does it fit in the budget?"What budget?" you may ask. You should have a budget for homeschooling activities. Then this question is a no brainer. If the money isn't there, don't sign up for the activity.
Can more than one of my children benefit from it?This may not be an important question if you only have one child or maybe even two. But if you are homeschooling multiple children, it is more time effective to choose activities that more than one will enjoy. Obviously some things- especially sports- will only be for one child. But, when possible, if you can do it with more than one child, it is better.
Does it fit with our goals as a family?This one is a little harder, a little deeper question. Hopefully you've thought about your goals and your purpose in homeschooling. (I have a whole post on creating a vision statement for your homeschool.) There will be some activities that just don't fit- even if they are really good activities.
For example, I have many friends who are involved in our local Classical Conversations. I think it is a great program, and I've looked into it several times. But, it really doesn't fit the goals/plans I have for homeschooling right now. It doesn't mean it isn't a worthy program or a good thing to be involved in. It just doesn't fit for us.
Is it for this season in our lives?This is closely related to the above. There have been some activities we've done for a season that don't fit now. There have been some activities that we've never tried but that might be a good fit for us now.
There is a local ladies Bible study group here that has many homeschool families. There are fun things going on for the kids while the moms are studying the Bible and fellowshipping. I tried it out several times when my kids were younger only to quit because my kids were so unhappy and wouldn't stay very well. The fact was, the program was during nap time. And my younger kids just couldn't make it very well.
Even though it was a great program and would have been fun- for me at least!- it wasn't for that season in life. I did it later, and it worked very well. My kids were older, and the time was much easier for us.
What else is going on in our lives physically/emotionally/behaviorally?Sometimes there are really good, really fun things that we need to skip because it isn't a good time due to other things going on in our family. If we have a certain behavioral issue we are working on, we may need to skip certain things for now. If a child- or me- is going through a rough time emotionally for some reason, we may need to spend more time at home building our relationships with each other.
Life goes more smoothly when I can remember these things. When I find myself frantic and struggling, I can usually step back and realize that I've neglected one of these questions and have overscheduled us. Then it is time to reevaluate and reconsider exactly how busy we've become so that I can tame that busyness beast.