It occurred to me that with regards to having a large family, I have learned to think differently about a number of things. I have learned to draw inspiration from industry in managing our home. I know, for example, that a $40 blender will not perform the way I need it to around here. I know we will wear out carpets four times faster than other families, that our door hinges take more abuse, and that toilet paper runs out at an alarming rate in our home. When I face a home management issue, I often ask myself, “What would a business do?” I know a commercial kitchen would not buy wooden spoons at the dollar store and expect them to last through heavy-duty cooking, so I don’t either.
I have been hobbling along in our homeschool for quite some time, now. I just can’t seem to get everything done. Long ago, I let go of unrealistic expectations of doing art, nature and music studies. In our home though, sometimes even the basics are not finished by the end of the day. As I have been praying about what to do differently, it occurred to me that I am missing a good potential source of inspiration.
What do schools do well? Crowd-control. What do I have? A crowd.
Thus began my initial brainstorming about a week ago. I pulled out my red cloth-covered home management notebook and started making a list. What are some things that schools do to help manage large numbers of students that I could make work in my home? Things such as ‘teacher does not breastfeed any one during teaching hours’ and ‘drug unruly students’ were not going to be practical, of course. However, other things caught my attention:
- start at an exact, set time each day, not simply ‘after breakfast’
- teacher does not wait for students who are not ready
- breaks are scheduled and taken at a set time regardless of what has or has not been accomplished
These are only a very few ideas that seemed to turn on a light-bulb in my head. I am in the process of thinking and praying about what changes I will be making to the way our homeschool runs. I am feeling very hopeful and excited…if only I had more uninterrupted time to think things through!
The best part is that within about two days of coming up with these ideas, I had a wonderful confirmation that I was on the right track. Our family was invited to my friend LB’s home for a short, impromptu visit. (I love LB. Her home oozes cleanliness even though she has five children. It is such a pleasure to visit her home.) During our short visit, I started spouting forth my idea of looking to schools for inspiration for our homeschool, particularly for managing lots of people. When I paused for a breath, LB said, “Let me tell you what I came up with this year.” Then, she began to describe almost exactly some of the things I had been thinking. Not only had she decided to try these things, they had actually been working for the entire school year so far. It was one of those moments that I know God must have orchestrated. I left so encouraged, as I always do after spending time with LB.
In my next post, I will describe in more detail how our morning has been changing in accordance with our school-y inspiration.