Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quite Domestic

While I have been frequently complimented on the coziness and order in my home, some have criticized my habits of house and home as being "quite domestic". I have to say that I believe in the raising of children, and the making of a home, domesticity devoted to Providence seems to be the proper method. Homemaking is an adventure all it's own, and adding homeschooling to the mix just makes it more interesting.

When my children were much younger (they are turning 22 and 17 in March), several habits were developed through much reading on my part. Realizing early on that being away from home was not helping advance our educational goals, we placed limits on the amount of time and activities in which we would participate. Field trips, co-ops, and play dates were limited, along with commitments to groups and organizations that would pull us, as parents, away from the home. It was of much benefit.

After we limited our away-from-home time, a schedule for our at-home time seemed like the logical next step. I've used several over the year, including simple Excel spreadsheets, or printable forms like these from the Internet. They are of great help, but only if you USE them.

I'm not a slave to schedules, but I believe schedules are MY slaves, just like my washer and dryer, and are created to assist me in my day. When children have a schedule, they understand what is expected of them; it places a boundary mark so they understand the territory.

In studying landscape architecture, there is a concept called "Dot on a Landscape". It means that in creating the atmosphere of a place, thought should be given to how the person enjoying the landscape relates to their environment. Do they feel they belong, like this small corner was made for them, or are they like a pioneer on a wagon train, passing through the vast open valley on the way to the mountain on the other side?

This mental picture helps us to realize that, at home, we can create an atmosphere where there is a coziness, a sense of "normalcy" and belonging. Each child should have responsibilities, tasks that are their own. They should have freedom to express their creativity, with boundaries, of course. (It's never appropriate to take crayons or markers to the wall, at least in my home!)

Being part beaver, I love to make charts and control journals. I like the order it brings to my life, and it helps others understand what I need and expect of them. For children, that can be a real comfort. Of course, there are those who resist charts, journals, and order, but there can be a benefit obtained from them, and the use of them has assisted me in making my home what it is today.

Every January, I purchase a new DeskPad calendar.

It hangs on the wall in my kitchen, and we use it as the main calendar for ALL events to which we commit ourselves. It has enough space, I can even do menu planning right on the dates, in pencil of course! I started using this method several years ago, and it has proven to work well for us.
As for our daily schedule, because we limit the time away from home, errands must be incorporated into the trips we make to town for other events, like our homeschool co-op classes. When I am not the mother helper in class, I utilize the time by running short errands like bank trips, Walgreens stops and Library pick-ups. Recycling bins are located directly across the street from our co-op building, so I can take care of that as well.
During the school week, we leave the home two days a week for classes, errands and field trips. The other three days, we are at home, learning, growing and living. I like it this way, and it has proven to be a good schedule to accomplish learning in our home.

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