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Are You Present?

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As a homeschooling parent, you are physically near your children most, if not all, of the time. You know what subjects they are struggling with, what issues they’re having. You have likely met all of their friends, and quite possibly all of their friends’ parents. You know their favorite books, their favorite movies, their favorite television shows. You know what they had for lunch today, and probably how much of it they ate. You’re there for everything.

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Or…are you?

What are your kids doing right now? Are they engaged in solo activities—reading, or napping, or playing video games?

Or are they doing something in which you could join in?

Are they engaged in a lesson where they might need your help? Watching a movie that you’ve seen before, but which they would love to experience with you? Working on a school assignment that might benefit from just a little bit more help?

Are you physically there without actually being present?

Take a mental inventory. How much of your day do you spend thinking about and even doing other things even when you’re in the middle of an activity with your children? Do they have to compete with your cell phone or your computer even to get your attention to ask you a question?

Are you missing the chance to make memories even when your children are in the same room?

Almost every homeschooling parent has done it at least once: checked out and stopped paying attention sometime in the middle of the day, in spite of all the other things that still need to be done. They’ve played a Facebook game longer than they should have, or spent too long browsing new ideas (or recipes…or crafts…) on Pinterest, or curled up with a good book and ignored all of their children instead of engaging with them. Every once in a while, that’s a good thing. Homeschooling parents need breaks, too: breaks, and moments that are entirely their own, and hobbies that have absolutely nothing to do with their children.

Those breaks, however, can quickly become the focus of the day. What begins as “five minutes to check in on Facebook” suddenly turns into an all-day Facebook binge, complete with games and applications. Sitting down with a book “while the kids are doing something else” can become burying your nose in it for the entire day without looking up, no matter what the kids are doing. The TV that was on as background noise suddenly becomes the focus of your entire day.

What are you missing because you’re not engaged?

Are you missing teachable moments? Sweet memories? The chance to share something with your kids?

Are you being a homeschooling parent, or simply a parent whose kids happen to do their schoolwork at home?

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