Balancing Personality Extremes in Homeschooling

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 says,

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

    King Solomon wrote these words over three thousand years ago, and they are just as true today. You know sometimes we read Scripture, especially familiar passages, and don’t really focus on their meanings.  So take a minute and really meditate on the meaning of this passage.  What do these verses mean to you?

To me, these verses say that God has blessed us with a variety of experiences in our brief time on earth and there is a time for everything.  On that note, let us discuss the concept of balance in your homeschool.  This is a discussion that I really need to consider.  It appears to me that there are two possible extremes in homeschooling.  Just to liven things up a bit, I’m going to name them Serious Sally, and Fun Loving Fran.

Serious Sally gets up at the same time each morning with a long list of things to be done for the day and a strict timetable for accomplishing everything.  She loves workbook type curricula, and enjoys the sense of accomplishment that checking things off her list brings her. It is very hard for Sally to be spontaneous and she does not handle interruptions very well. A child who does not learn in the way that Sally expects troubles her greatly.  A child that is a kinesthetic (hands on, moving) learner nearly drives Sally crazy. Sally loves things scheduled, neat, and orderly.  She gets along best with the children that sit quietly doing their assignments and learning right on schedule.
Fun-loving Fran gets up whenever the first child wakes her.  She really doesn’t have much of a plan for the day, maybe a general idea of what needs to be done.  She loves doing extra projects and taking field trips, sometimes even to the point that  “regular” school doesn’t often get finished.  Workbooks make her feel stifled and bored, so she picks unit studies and many times aimlessly drifts through several types of curricula in one year, depending on her and the kids’ interests.  Her children have no trouble getting Fran distracted and they enjoy lots of activities, even though sometimes the busyness interferes with real learning.

These are two caricatures of personality extremes that can be exhibited.  However, I think that most people sort of lean toward one type or the other.  Which person do you identify with more?

There are positives and negatives to both types.  Sally gets a lot done, but because she sometimes focuses more on her to-do list, she can miss opportunities to help the learning sink in a little better.  Sally is in serious trouble if she has a child who does not learn in conventional ways. She needs to loosen up a little, and try to have a bit more fun.  After all, what is the point of homeschooling if you simply mimic the  traditional classroom and don’t get to do some unconventional things?  Sally needs to learn to be flexible.  Lists and schedules are good tools, but only if she does not let them master her. If a child isn’t learning on schedule, she needs to take the time to figure out why instead of reacting in frustration that they may be getting “behind.”

Fran sometimes feels like she was busy all day, but nothing of merit was accomplished.  Because she is so distracted, her kids sometimes have huge holes in their education.  Fran needs to begin the year with an overall plan and choose materials ahead of time that will help her accomplish those educational goals. Perhaps she should consider using a traditional mathematics and English program to make sure her basics are covered. Then she can be a little freer in learning history, science and reading.  She should try to stick to one theme at a time and thoroughly cover it before moving on. Fran’s kids will have broad experiences, and provided they do not get over committed, they may retain more learning since they experience their learning in a variety of ways.

In our passage today, we read that there is a time for everything. There is a time for fun and a time to knuckle under and do things we do not like.  Learning should mirror real life.  Some things in real life are not fun, but we have to learn to do them anyway. But we must also be able to set work aside and enjoy ourselves.  Laughing, singing, and playing are important parts of life as well
How balanced is your life? Do you need to step back and re-evaluate?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trish
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 19:46:04

    I have been so overwhelmed (when am I not?) lately with trying to balance everything that God has given me & continues to give me. Lately I feel like I am just winging it to get through the day! The passage from Ecclesiastes was totally for me today!!! Thank you for sharing!


    • fairfarmhand79
      Jul 29, 2014 @ 01:49:26

      The juggling act is very hard. Focus on what is most important and get to the other stuff when you can. Each morning, when I start to feel overwhelmed with what I need to complete, I pray that God would help me accomplish what HE wants me to tackle AND that he would help me to let go of the stuff that wasn’t on his agenda for me that day. Handing my agenda over to God totally transforms my feelings of being overwhelmed with life.


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