This summer my husband is growing kale in our garden, but we really have no idea what to do with it. Everywhere I look on the internet, people are talking about kale and it’s amazing super-food qualities. Kale chips in particular. People seem to either love them or think that baked newspaper would be tastier. So, last night, after much trepidation, I hopped on the kale bandwagon and made kale chips. All of the recipes that I looked at had the same basic instructions for prepping them, but varied enormously in how to bake them. Several cautioned to not use too much seasoning as it would be overwhelming.
I’m sure you are wondering by now what my cooking adventures have to do with homeschooling. As we were sampling the chips last night, I realized that the process of making the kale chips had a lot in common with homeschooling. The basic instructions for homeschooling are that your children learn at home instead of at school, but the actual process of doing so are as varied as there are varieties of salad dressing at the grocery store. There are countless ways to home-school, from unschooling at one end of the spectrum to school-at-home with weekly reports sent in to a third party at the other end. Most families are comfortable with their own choices. They enjoy the freedom we have to make those individual choices and to change them whenever a particular program no longer works for their family.
The commonality that I see among home-school families is trying to find the right amount of seasoning or outside the home activities for their home-school and family life. Too much and life gets overwhelming; too little and life is bland. In cooking, as in life, I have to work hard at not over seasoning and over-scheduling since I tend to think “if a little is good, more will be even better.” Like many home-school moms, I also have lots of grand ideas and good intentions that never actually see the light of day because there’s just not enough time to do everything. So, the big question is, how do we find that correct amount of seasoning in our lives?
A couple of years ago, a veteran home-school mom gave me some great advice; I’m passing it along in the hopes that it will help your family. Sit your family down and have everyone make a list of their priorities, such as church, family time, schoolwork, sports, 4-H, whatever appeals to them most. Then combine the lists to make a family list. It might look like this: 1. Church 2. Family time 3. Schoolwork 4. learning life skills 5. Music 6. Serving others. Next, decide if each individual activity falls into one of these priorities. If it doesn’t, don’t feel guilty about eliminating it from your schedule. The key here is to mark these items down on your calendar in order of priority. Actually writing down church or family movie night on your schedule first will make you think about scheduling another event on top of it, will help you to say, “sorry, we already have plans” and literally to keep your priorities in order. So, if church is your number one priority and your teenage daughter’s volleyball team always travels out of town overnight on Saturdays, volleyball isn’t going to make the cut unless your church has a Monday night service. Also, look for activities that several of your children can participate in together; maybe one child has a heart for drama and another for art. The first child could perform in a home-school or local production company’s play, while the other helps with set design. 4-H is another great family-friendly option that combines learning life skills with service to others and all of the family can work and learn together. Another alternative that works especially well with younger children is to organize a weekly family P.E. date with a couple of other families instead of having all of your kids play on different sports teams that all have different practice and game schedules. If one of your children really has a passion for something that didn’t make the list, try to incorporate it into their school work. Maybe your daughter is interested in photography; she could take an online class. If your son is really into football; he could research the history of the game.
In case you are wondering how the kale chips turned out, they really were a lot like the different seasons of homeschooling; some were a little bit bitter, some too salty (busy) and some were actually pretty good.