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Homeschoolers and Margin Time
“Margin time” is one of those things we all know is important, but tend to ignore or delay because it’s not urgent. This dynamic is downright ironic in homeschool families, because of the importance we tend to place on flexibility and attention to priorities. Margin time is the prime time for enrichment, building relationships, and exploring personal interests.
In fact, it’s so important, and so in line with typical homeschool values, that you might almost ask why we would homeschool in the first place if we don’t have time for margin?
The main reason we don't take margin is usually that we don’t feel like we have time. However, it's also valid to ask, why do we have time for so many other things if we don’t have adequate margin in our lives?
Even the Bible speaks to margin, often in an explicitly spiritual context (such as taking time for prayer and worship), but also for simple recreation, curiosity, healing, and more. If God thinks margin is important, surely we at least owe it some thought!
Matthew and Lisa had a rough time toward the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. Matthew’s deteriorating health added to the already heavy weight of several other major stressors. It took a near-breakdown to send them to a local Christian counselor, who soon explained the problem wasn’t emotional or spiritual, but physical.
“You’re under a massive amount of stress,” he said, “and you’re dealing with it fine emotionally and spiritually. But stress has a physical component too, and you’re not dealing with that well at all. You desperately need to make time – or take time – for some self-care so your body and mind can repair themselves.”
Matthew and Lisa decided to take his advice, but it wasn’t easy. As the counselor had suspected, they couldn’t make the time . They had to take it. That meant deliberately letting some important things go –deciding some of the plates they were spinning could crash to the floor – simply in the pursuit of margin.
A year later, they mark that meeting with the counselor as the time Matthew’s health began to improve and their lives began to feel manageable.
You may not be dealing with huge amounts of stress right now. Some families may feel their children aren’t getting to explore “non-essential” areas of study or interest. Others might feel a need to spend more time outside, or to read some classic literature, or any number of other things.
Regardless of what your personal or family needs are, an internal cry for “margin” is one that deserves serious consideration. And if you can’t find the time, or make the time, then consider taking it. You might find that’s exactly what you need to re-invigorate your homeschool, your relationships, or who knows what else!
Until next time,
The Lewis Family
Frank & Kari
Matthew, Lisa, Abigail, Chandler & Elliott
Jonathan, Linnea, Patrick, Timothy & Katherine
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