Do you dream of the day when your youngest will behave like the child in this picture?
In this three part series I provide some mindset level help to those who are in the midst of teaching school age children while also trying to tackle and tame the toddlers.
If you have a toddler: Look at the big picture, create realistic routines, and make peace with chaos.
In this Post I will talk about finding and focusing on your big picture. In the following weeks I will post about creating realistic routines and making peace with chaos.
Write down what your life/homeschooling priorities are. Don’t forget to include all the things that may be even more important than academics. It helped me to use the following categories: Necessary, essential and desirable. (I think I got these categories from a book…Charlotte Mason, or Ruth Beechick? If you have read this idea let me know where so I can credit it.) This list should be unchanging. It is grabbing the core of what you believe are the most important things to teach your children. I’ll share an example of one thing we put down for each category to give you some ideas to jump off from. Under necessary we have character training, under essential we have reading, and under desirable we have spelling. Don’t let the list take up more than a page, the point here is to focus on the most important things, not list every detail of life. (Replacing the toilet paper roll does not belong on this list, but learning how to do chores well or keep a clean house may show up on here somewhere.) Don’t be generous with the number of items you put under necessary & essential, so much of what we strive for does not belong in these categories and it helps to put desirable things in the place where they belong.
When you are struggling in any area, look at your list. Is the issue even on here? If so what category is it in? If it is under desirable, that is your cue to calm down and be patient. If it is under necessary that is your cue to focus in on the problem and pull out all the stops until it is solved. You may have to drop some desirables while focusing on something in the necessary or essential categories, which is okay. There is plenty of time in life to pursue desirable knowledge and skills. We do not want our desire for these things to crowd out who we want our children to become, (like trustworthy, hardworking, and polite people.) You made the list, look at it often and trust it as a kind of sign post to help you keep your own priorities straight.
Keep in mind the three R’s which used to be the foundation of learning. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are all skills that your child will learn better if they work on them each day. The rest of learning is content. There are two things to keep in mind about content. One, you can never teach your child all the information content that is available to us in the modern world. Two, your child will never stop learning content, so there is no rush.