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Don't let Interruptions Spoil your Purpose - Issue 215
September 03, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week our highlight was an opportunity we had as a homeschool co-op to spend the morning with a team from Covenant Players. The two ladies were fantastic with the kids – drawing them out and helping them be comfortable using their mind, body and voice in communicating through drama. Excellent! The older kids had an extra session and then lunch together giving them an opportunity to talk about a play the kids are working on. The thing that impressed me the most is that in 10-15 minutes these older kids had taken a familiar Bible passage and turned it into a skit from a different person’s perspective (as in, a person not actually in the story, but who would have been there). So not only did they have help in drama but also in story writing. Can I encourage you all to keep your eyes out for people who come into your community or into your church community and see if you can use them in encouraging or teaching your kids in some way.

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Don't let Interruptions Spoil your Purpose

How to handle interruptions is one of the most frequently asked questions by mums – homeschooling or not! We start the day with a plan, and then it all starts to unravel. How can we be intentional and have direction in our family when these unexpected things happen? Interruptions aren’t all bad – they are a part of life – but for them not to take us away from the important things in our life we need to have a plan. Plan to deal with the unexpected.

But before we can look at how to handle interruptions we need to be clear on our purpose. If our purpose is to achieve a to-do list or to complete planned lessons then we are going to be snookered. Interruptions will spoil our purpose. But we are to have a bigger purpose – a purpose that encourages our children to love the Lord and to love others. Our purpose is to be focused on relationships not on the activities. In order to achieve this purpose we have planned activities (our to-do list and planned lessons) and these have their place. But once an interruption happens we may have to look at the bigger picture – relationships. There is balance here and we do need to assess if the interruption is a valid thing – or if it is a distraction. These tips are for the valid interruptions. There are two ways I have found to handle interruptions

  1. Be flexible with our routine – using regular activities at different times throughout the day
  2. Have a list of activities that can be pulled into action whenever necessary – activities that don’t need my supervision
Being Flexible with our regularly activities – We need to remember that our routine is to serve us, we don’t serve our routine. Initially we use our routine to train our children and then once the children master the skills and self-control necessary they can carry on with that activity by themselves. Once they get to this point we can ask the children to do that activity at any time of the day. Three main activities that I use for handling interruptions:
  1. Room time – this is where they play in their room, by themselves
  2. Table time – this is where they work on their individual studies, things that need daily practice
  3. Reading time – this is where they sit somewhere quietly and read, the only talking allowed is if they need help in reading a word.
My children can do any one of these activities for 1 hour each though we started with 10-15minutes, or 20-30minute blocks when they were younger. This gives me a lot of leeway when interruptions come into our day. Of course it isn’t good if these activities become the norm – that isn’t handling interruptions, that is living in chaos and that is another discussion altogether!

Having Choices – The other option I have is a list of activities that my children can do without my supervision. Once again I have three categories

  1. To do by yourself
  2. To do with an older sibling
  3. To do with all siblings
This would include activities like personal interests, creative projects, physical activities, board games, DVDs, and family projects.

It is well worth spending time planning ahead of time how you are going to handle interruptions. Interruptions are often urgent (or make us think they are urgent) and we don’t think very clearly so the more pre-thought we can give to this the better off our family will be. If your children can’t do anything independently, or you wouldn’t trust them to do so with self-control and respect, then it is worth your while to spend a season – yes, even a couple of months, training them towards being able to fitfully occupy themselves without your supervision. Training towards this will mean:

  • You will have a routine (a sequence of activities) giving your children opportunity to practice the things that you eventually want them to do by themselves.
  • You will have to address relationship issues between siblings helping them to get along even if you are not in the room.
  • You will have to be committed to the training phase and it may take a while – but it will be worth it.
Interruptions will always come our way – but we can be less thrown by them!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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