By contributing writer Tabitha
They disrupt the entire day. You have a good thing going and you look at the clock and remember the dentist/doctor/midwife/ophthalmologist/car mechanic appointment you need to get to soon. You go to make an appointment and the only time available is right when you are usually working on… something really important to your children, or you, or even just nap time.
How do you deal with necessary interruptions to your homeschooling time? I know this happens frequently at our home. With ten children, it seems someone is always needing to be somewhere.
Here are some tips that help me deal with necessary homeschool interruptions:
Make room for a day off. Sometimes I know I will be gone long enough that we’ll never get back on track. We’ll do a little extra the day before or the day after and make that day a fun day. Sometimes it turns into movie day when the weather is bad, or a trip to the park.
Make it a field trip. When it is all right with the office staff or waiting area, I bring some or all of my children along. They can learn from the experience or at least get out of the house and go for a drive. This doesn’t work when the appointment is for myself and there isn’t anyone capable of keeping the younger ones on track.
Make it fun. Bring treats and distractions. Have car trip games even if the drive is only five minutes long. Sing the 2 year old’s favorite song all the way home. Be silly. Be spontaneous. Get lost and see what happens.
Make it fun to stay home. When the appointment is for me, I arrange for the kids to stay home (or with friends) and make sure there is something different in store, like board games or Play-doh, while I am gone. Treats go a long way, too.
Make it interesting. We learn as much as we can about what is happening. Whether it be an eye exam, a well child check up, a brother’s job interview, or a dentist visit, there can be library books and a children’s TV show themed to fit. It’s amazing what you can find with a little searching. The ones not involved can’t wait to hear how things worked out.
Make school fit the interruption. Bring what works. I know we’ve done history read aloud while on the way to the zoo as well as the doctor’s office. We’ve also done math practice out loud and tried to practice Spanish on each other in the car. Spelling is also good on the road.
Make it fit YOUR time. Make the appointment for the time that’s most convenient for you so you don’t have to go out of your way. This doesn’t always work but we all know days go better when nap time is honored, lunch is on time, and we don’t get up earlier than usual.
Mid morning appointments work best for us because we’re usually doing chores and self directed things at that time, and I know that if I leave, no one will melt down too badly. We will have already completed breakfast, getting dressed, and our family scripture reading, giving the day a move in the right direction. Whoever has the appointment gets back in time for lunch and we go from there.
Just make it through. Despite all we can do, sometimes we just have to grit our teeth and make it through. We all have those days. No one wants to be there. The office staff is rude. The doctor runs late. We’re all out of goldfish, we’ve read every single magazine in the waiting room, and we don’t want to know what is sticking to our shoe. Everyone is just having a DAY. Just when it’s hardest to keep things calm, that’s when we just do it…we calmly get through the rest of the time without screaming at anyone.
Even if we don’t, there’s always next time.