Some of our best educational moments come from spontaneity and adventure. Still others come during times of structure and routine. Personally, I am most successful and accomplished when I am in a groove, which usually comes from a plan, a process, or a schedule. My kids, on the other hand, have an entirely different idea. So in our household, homeschooling usually occurs in a mix of both guided routine and child-led projects through which learning flourishes.
As much as we love our family and friends and value our time with them greatly, house guests can often interrupt my cherished routine and derail my well intentioned plans for our homeschool. If our kids were in a "brick and mortar" school, they would continue to go to school most days and not miss a beat while there, even while visitors are in town. But since they are home educated, when our home is filled with [loving] distractions, it can be hard to stay on track if we didn't plan for our "vacation time" to coincide with that of our visitors.
So why don't we simply plan around their visits and "take a break" from learning while we have house guests, you ask? Actually, we do. Sort of. It depends on the visitor, their length of stay, and what we need (or don't need) to accomplish during that time. We try to plan ahead and ensure that any obligations we have are scheduled before or after a visitor's time with us. We adjust our schedules and do our best to be able to cherish every moment with our visiting family or friends. But here's the thing: we live in Hawaii and our guests can be frequent and excited to be tourists, which makes us the tour guides. And here's the other thing: we love our guests and want them to visit. (It sure is a wonderful thing to be so loved and blessed that we have so many people willing to come out to see us!) So in order to maximize our opportunities with people we love and care about, we DO take breaks from our routine when house guests are with us... and then there are occasions when we find ourselves taking too many breaks and needing to get refocused on educational goals (particularly with my oldest daughter).
Even with all the possibilities of learning as we go, sometimes we still feel the need to sit down at home and focus on "school". If this happens, I simply must let our guests know that we have something important to focus on. In an effort to show them that we care, that we want to spend time with them, and that we appreciate their taking the time to visit us, we invite them to be involved in our schooling too, if they'd like. If they aren't interested, we offer to let them borrow one of our vehicles for the day, if possible. Or we try to think of somewhere we can take them, drop them off, and do our work while they take some time to play or explore on their own. It can be hard, at first, to speak up and draw the line; to say we have to "do school" (a term used more for their understanding and benefit than ours) when we have houseguests. Once we do this, once we let them know what we need, we realize that our guests are understanding and even happy to be involved in our activities OR to have time to do whatever they'd like without having others in tow. It helps keep us on track and helps me [and my type A, perfectionist, goal-oriented, structured self] keep my sanity, which is certainly a valuable thing.
How do you handle homeschooling while you have house guests? Do you take breaks? Do you incorporate schooling into your activities with visitors? A little of both? Or something else?
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.