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So often a homeschool mum, or any mum for that matter, asks – “How do you handle interruptions?”
There are many things which cause interruptions to my focus time with my children. These days it is likely to be the telephone or a household chore that needs doing but when the children were younger it was more likely to be a baby crying or nappy change. When I have to walk away from my children, leaving them with the temptation to lose focus, fool around and cause major disruptions it helps to keep control of their choices and to have options.
Control their choices: Just because you are not physically present does not mean your authority is not present (or can’t be). Before you leave the room make it very clear what you expect of them. Tell them what to do while you are away. Eventually, as they grow up, you want them to be able to make this choice wisely for themselves, but during the training phase you need to show them what a wise choice looks like. I remember studying Punctuality – which is using our time wisely, there was an aspect about using our unexpected ‘free’ time wisely. This is exactly this type of situation – the child has some unexpected ‘free’ time – how will they use it. Initially we need to direct their choices with the goal in mind that they will eventually make these choices for themselves.
Have options: What do I tell my children to do? Once again in our study of Punctuality we discussed that if they are left waiting for someone then they need to use their time wisely but still be ready to go when the person comes back. This means going outside to play while Mum takes a phone call is probably not the best choice, neither is going into another room. The best choice in this situation is to occupy yourself and yet stay in the area so you can see when things are ready to get back on track. Reading books, playing with Lego, drawing, or playing with the doll house were the favourite things that I used to direct my children towards, these days they tend to read or work on their independent studies (something that they can drop quickly when I return). The other thing I learnt was that it worked better if they all had individual, independent activities – this way WW3 didn’t break out while I was out of the room.
Hi, Belinda! This is so true, it's very important to set the expectations in advance! And then to follow up on the kids' performance after the interruption or parental absence is important as well. Sometimes they'll "slack off" a bit if we don't keep tabs. I don't think it's necessarily a deliberate disobedience, but if I don't remind them of the expectation now and again, it won't be up front and center in their minds!
Wanted to let you know, too, that there is now a Part 6 to "I Wish I Could Go To A Farm!" Hope you have a good week!
Lori (aka Plans4You)