A Box of Chocolate & A Bubble Bath
By Jodi Whisenhunt –
This fall, my oldest child, Kyle, started tenth grade. As a homeschooler, I’m a bit anxious about it. Ok, I’m a lot anxious about it! “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way,” according to 1 Corinthians 14:40 (NIV). Paul’s referring to regulations for speaking in tongues. (By the look on my kids’ faces, sometimes they think I’m doing just that!) However, it’s also good advice for teaching. Problem is, I struggle to do anything in a fitting and orderly way. Recently, I carried a basket of clean laundry down the hall where I found something that belonged in my bedroom. I set the basket down and carried the item to my room where, after catching my reflection in the mirror, I stopped to brush my hair. My daughter came in, so I brushed her hair too. She was still in jammies, so I led her back to her room to change. Only when I took her dirty clothes to the laundry did I remember my original task.
I admit I’ve been a bit lax with our homeschool structure in recent years. Lax is an understatement. Let me try unorganized, panicked, disappointed, unstructured, befuddled. Like the laundry incident, distractions during class time often divert our attention. Some have become bad habits, like how, being the teenage boy that he is, Kyle must eat every ten minutes.
My daughter, Chloe, started first grade this year. Sure, I’ve been there, done that, but she has a totally different personality and a completely different learning style than her older brother. She wants to do her schoolwork at 9:00 at night when she’s avoiding bedtime, but still, if the child wants to learn, how can I turn her down?
Adam’s four. His education is not a major issue yet. He’s quite satisfied with number charts and picture books and children’s videos. As I said, though, he is four. He still longs to spend a lot of time on my lap with my eyes and ears tuned toward him. That can make teaching the other two difficult.
So how do I go about accomplishing school in a “fitting and orderly way”? Simple. With a box of chocolate and a bubble bath! I convince my husband to spend some quality time with the kids, or at least keep them from unlocking the door, and I barricade myself in my room. The running water is soothing (and drowns out the squeals and whines on the other side of the door) and allows me to commune with my Father. As I relax, I seek a higher education. I invite Him to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV), and I ask the Lord to arrange our daily schedules and to order our lesson plans. I also pray His hedge of thorns to surround us and prevent the enemy’s distraction.
I’ve also implemented some changes, including removing Kyle from the kitchen. He may take a snack to his room to do assignments, but he cannot come out until the work is done. I don’t think he’ll starve. I allow Chloe flex time. It just can’t delay bedtime. And with cool teaching aids, like a hand-shaped pointer and a fast facts dial, sweet little Adam can direct. I’ve also discovered that dry-erase markers work very well on the glossy ceramic tiles surrounding my kitchen desk. Fun for all!
Now if you’ll excuse me, my bath is ready and a box of chocolate awaits!
Jodi Whisenhunt is a 2009 Amy Writing Award recipient. She and her husband, Richard, homeschool their three children in McKinney, Texas. You can find her at www.jodiwhisenhunt.com and www.magicalmouseschoolhouse.com, where Disney IS school.