SummaryFed up with trying to do Algebra while the pot roast burns? Amanda Evinger, homeschooling Mom, shares some favorite tips on homeschooling and homemaking.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” — St. Teresa of Avila
Once we’ve been in the “throws” of homeschooling, we know, just because we are teachers and need to spend a bulk of our day forming the hearts and minds of our children, academically and spiritually, that doesn’t mean the dishes just “go away.”
It also doesn’t mean that many of our precious desires to do nurturing and creative homemaking activities just “go away” either. At first, this may seem like quite the predicament.
However, with a little prayer, planning, and careful consideration, we may make homemaking and homeschooling work together.
Here are a few ideas how!
Learning from Our Children
Remember that our children are learning many wonderful lessons from watching us do homemaking tasks, especially if we let them do them with us (with certain exceptions … like, you must be at least five-years-old to make peanut butter pie!).
Recently, a friend of mine with three young children came over and wanted advice on how to keep her house picked up.
I told her that, for years, I would say, “Ok, kids, clean up!” and it was like nothing would happen, or certain threats had to be made, or at the very least, a few items were tossed around.
One day, I got the inspiration to tell my kids (I have three young children and am pregnant) to clean up a certain number of items each — usually about 15.
I also assign them to clean certain areas, and I tell them I want to hear them count their items out loud. Not only has this taught them counting, but it gives them a clear and simple way to feel like an accomplished child, who is on a cleaning mission with a finish goal in mind.
After about three years of this, I must say, it still works well! I also do the same things with drying dishes.
When it is time to dry dishes (we have no dishwasher), the child assigned to dry dishes that day will ask me, “How many points worth of dishes do I need to dry?” And according to the load in the sink, I’ll tell them. It’s usually about 20.
Teaching Math Skills with Housework
To make things fun and to teach them math skills, we keep a point system. Bigger frying pans that get dried and stowed away perfectly earn three points, while forks get one, etc.
If we are in really good moods, we will even sing as we dry dishes. I learned this from a family of nine children that has no dishwasher and has its own family band — perfect time to practice!
When I was in public middle school, I remember taking a home-economics class. It stands out vividly in my mind. As a blossoming young lady, I remember the warm, excited feelings I had as I learned to sew my first pillow and bake a little loaf of bread.
It was a fabulous feeling that awakened a touch of wonder within me about who I was created to be. However, sadly, it was very short-lived.
The little glimpse of how I would spend the majority of the days of my ultimate vocation of being a mother and homemaker were soon crowded out by piles and piles of physical science tests, Calculus worksheets, years of studying Spanish, philosophy, theology, medieval monasticism, poetry, etc.
Although I appreciate all I learned in academia, I truly wish I had prepared for my actual calling and vocation in life. Throughout high school and college, I was deceived by the cultural attitudes that homemaking is not a “real” way to spend one’s life.
Grateful for Lessons Learned
Now that I’m a homeschooling mother, I am ecstatic about the fact that my daughters can spend day after day watching me do what they will likely spend their days doing — loving, cooking, praying, educating, nurturing, sewing, gardening, making music, and creating a beautiful, unique home life.
I am also grateful that my son is seeing how challenging, rewarding, and heroic the life of a mother really is. With these ideas in mind, it’s easy to see how homeschooling and homemaking naturally fit together.
On a more practical level, I’ve found that the kitchen is an ideal place for younger children to do a lot of their school work. I can sit and patiently work with them as I wait for bread to rise or help them with a math problem and then go cut carrots as we talk about how to finish the next few.
Older children may need a quieter atmosphere (like their bedroom) to write a sonnet, sketch a portrait of a sibling, or delve into Dante with passion.
A mid-morning recess can be the perfect time to make quick phone calls, pay bills, or switch over loads of laundry. I’ve also found that driving to Mass or to pick up a food order doesn’t have to interfere with getting school done for the day.
Younger children can learn the Alphabet Song, and older children can bring books or worksheets with them to work in the car. Car time is also an ideal time to get kids to open up about their deeper questions in life.
I have seen that homeschooling need not interfere with homemaking. Sure, sewing an intricate quilt or planning large family gatherings may have to wait until your homeschooling days are over.
But God knows what needs to be accomplished to make a home run sweetly and smoothly, and He also knows what it takes to educate children as well as they deserve.
He will give wisdom to every mother and father who must fit both the demands of homemaking and homeschooling into their schedule.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.”