by Kimberly Miller
When you are homeschooling, interruptions are inevitable. You will experience them, and you should expect to experience them. The phone rings, the baby needs a diaper change, a cup of juice gets spilled and has to be cleaned up, someone in the family gets sick. Homeschooling happens around real life, and so real life happens when you are homeschooling. Interruptions are a normal and expected part of the homeschooling process.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged by the interruptions, or that they have to derail your entire day (or week or year!). The question is, how do we best handle these interruptions when they do come?
Minimize the interruptions you have control over
While there are plenty of interruptions that are unexpected and cannot be planned for, there are some that can be. Don’t answer the phone every time it rings. Let it go to voicemail and return the call later. Don’t feel obligated to answer every text the minute it comes in, especially if it’s not about something urgent. Avoid making appointments during homeschooling hours. Put away electronic devices—sometimes it helps to physically remove them from the room you are in so that they are not a temptation, either for you or for your kids.
Maximize the time you spend in homeschooling
For a variety of reasons, it is a good idea to have a basic schedule or routine for your homeschool day. Having an order for how things should be done each day will help you and your children stay on track, or get back on track whenever you get off. Be careful not to become a slave to your schedule, and be ready to change it up if it isn’t working for you. But don’t hesitate to have some structure to your days. And when it’s school time, it’s school time. Be focused and as efficient as possible with your time, but also remember that a relaxed attitude will help all of you enjoy homeschooling much more.
Get back on track as soon as possible
The good news about interruptions is that, most of the time, it’s not hard to get back on track afterwards. Depending on the type of interruption you are dealing with, you should be able to deal with the interruption if necessary and then get back to homeschooling, either right away or the next day.
Don’t get discouraged when interruptions do come
Interruptions will come. Don’t be too hard on yourself or on your kids when that happens. Try to keep a positive attitude toward interruptions and avoid falling into frustration or resentment. Having a negative response will only exacerbate the situation. It’s better to meet the interruptions with a smile and simply take care of what needs to be taken care of. Then move on with the rest of your day.
When all else fails, embrace the interruptions
Yes, the interruptions will come into your homeschooling. Sometimes the best way to handle them is to simply embrace them. Lean into whatever is happening and take it in stride as much as you can. If you have an appointment to go to, make a field trip out of it. If a spill happens, have the children help clean it up. If the baby needs to be changed, talk to your children about waiting patiently for you while you take care of it. And always keep in mind that true education involves much more that just what can be learned through formal schooling. The value of real life learning cannot be measured. Use the interruptions as a learning opportunity, both for yourself and for your children. Interruptions don’t always have to be a negative experience. Sometimes wonderful things can come out of life’s interruptions.
Kimberly Miller is the mother of nine children and has been homeschooling them for over twenty years. She has served HOME for almost fifteen years as the Publications Coordinator and a Regional Representative. In addition to those roles, Kimberly is also a freelance editor and a published author of several books, both fiction and nonfiction. In her spare time, she loves reading good books, sipping tea, working in her garden, and enjoying the animals on her family’s hobby farm in Western Maine.