How we Continue our Studies in the Midst of Life Changes

How in the world are you able to keep up your studies in the midst of an international move and while living out of just one suitcase each?

I believe the reason our studies haven't fallen behind is because the children's good work habits and routines were already in place beforehand. Little by little over the years, I trained the children to take control of their daily schedules. If I can't be by their side continually, I can trust them now to follow personal schedules and get their work done. And it is usually neat and complete. This is not because I am some sort of super woman, but I believed that bit by bit, if I didn't quit, I would see results.

Last week, we had to go to the title office to sign the contract for our new home. The trip would take all day so I didn't want to leave the children alone. We took them along with us. The four of them waited for two hours in the lobby. No one heard a peep from them. They were too busy working on their schoolwork. My five year old had a little car and a fishing magazine. Normally, this little boy is very active, but he has been trained to play quietly when the need arises and he did just fine. I don't have little angels dropped from heaven, I am just reaping the benefits now from those many years of training my little ones to control themselves and to establish good study and work habits.

We have had bad days just like every other family. I have felt discouraged at times asking myself with exasperation, "Will they ever learn the most basic tasks!?" But they have learned them after all! So if you are discouraged in this area, take heart, your patient love and resolve will win out in the end. But please realize that you can't have one without the other. A child will have a hard time feeling loved by a mother who is always flying off the handle or barking commands and threats. On the other hand, a child feels insecure and grumpy when he doesn't have established boundaries for behavior and daily routines. He needs his mother to say NO when necessary and remain firm because he has not yet learned to make himself say NO in many areas of his life. He needs his mommy and daddy to be sheltering, immovable rocks that he can lean upon. This makes him feel secure and happy even though he may, at first, resist new rules. Most importantly, our own example of patient, firm love and good personal habits will influence our dear children far more than persuasive words.

Here's some more helpful advice from Miss Mason:

Acquiring a habit takes some effort, but once the habit is in place, it is rewarding because a habit is pleasant in and of itself. It's easy to do something on auto-pilot, something that doesn't take a lot of thought or will power. This is what mothers often forget. They forget that habits, even the good ones, are a pleasure. When the child has formed a habit, the mother thinks that continuing to act out of habit is as tedious as it was at first when the child was having to make a conscious effort to form the habit. So she admires his effort and starts to think that he deserves some relaxation from doing the habit, a sort of reward. So she lets him break the habit every now and then to give him a rest, and then he can continue on keeping the habit. What she doesn't realize is that, after a break, he isn't continuing on, he has to start all over, only now it's harder because he has both habits and must make a decision each time about which one to follow. The little relaxation she thought would be a treat turns out to form a new bad habit that now has to be broken. In fact, the mother's misguided sympathy is the one thing that makes it so hard to train children in good habits. vol 1

A typical 'not so ordinary' day looks something like this:
I let the children know we are going somewhere (a few days ago we had to drive 2 hours to our new, very dirty house to clean and repair it. It was infested with wasps and has some rodents too. eek!) and then I declare a "readings only" day. My children know that this means they don't write narrations or any other assignments that require writing but just read the assigned books on their daily schedules for that particular day. This cuts a four hour school morning into about 1 and 1/2 hours. If they have time, they work on Math. If further time permits, they work on Apologia Science too. If not, that is okay. All other subjects are simply cancelled. ONLY the scheduled readings must get done. Some oral narrations are shared in the car or at the supper table. In this way, the children never get behind in their 36 wk schedules but they don't feel undo pressure either. We have used this emergency schedule for several years now and it has enabled us to stay caught up with our schedules in spite of traveling across the globe every two years and living in other folks' homes for months at a time.

The reason we can feel good about skipping some basics is because we have been diligent to stay at home most of the time during the important morning hours throughout the earlier years. My children have filled many notebooks with written narrations and now write well, so I can be confident that they can afford to skip some written narrations when time is limited. I also know that we will pick it all up again in due time because we have disciplined ourselves to do so. They have plenty of time to learn the three Rs.

Now, my kindergartner's simple school schedule doesn't always get accomplished during this move, but I just read aloud if and when I can fit it in and make sure he reads to me or another family member daily for at least ten minutes. He plays the occasional math computer game when we're really busy, but already his life is full of natural math learning opportunities through the games we play and the conversations we have, so I'm not concerned about completing the list because the routines have been established through time and consistency. We just fit the rest in whenever we can. After four kids, I no longer worry about the kindergarten years. I know my child is living in a stimulating home learning environment. It is enough.

If you make the choice to begin now to establish simple routines and good work habits with your children, the peace that follows is well worth your efforts. I can certainly testify to this with enthusiasm. Even a life change can be just a bump in the road rather than some huge obstacle for your family.

one step at a time...