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Time4Learning Demos

Care For the Primary Caregiver

How to take care of your self first, as the primary caregiver in a homeschool family.

I tend to make elaborate homeschooling resolutions in September. But now, after attending Ed Dickerson’s “Destinations” workshop at the Home=Education Conference in Sacramento, I’m determined to put ME FIRST! If I am to model patience, self-motivated learning and enthusiasm, then I just can’t be too tired to do so. Before you all think I’ve gone totally egotistical, let me tell you, I love nurturing my family, but I need time to myself, to read, to create these web pages, to take a walk, and just be me.

Part of “detoxing” a child brought to homeschooling from the school environment is learning to accept responsibility for ones own motivation for learning. Helping with household tasks, so that they will become routine and easy to do, is an early, important step. Believe me, your child will not be “falling behind” his peers: in September schools are also setting up routines and going over forgotten skills, such as the orderly passing of ditto sheets, from last year.

Ed Dickerson is a pioneer and leader of the homeschool movement in Iowa. I got to talking with him during hors d’oeuvres about his educational philosophy, and I found we were sympathetic. A homeschooler for 20 years, he is dedicated to promoting the well-being and functionality of the family, as well as education that is child-centered. His workbook, “Destinations,” has a jaunty, nautical theme, to help you chart your course for your homeschooling family, and help you stay on that course.

The first step toward charting your own course for cultivating a rich learning environment for your family is to start with meeting the needs of the primary caregiver. A ship flounders without a healthy, motivated and enthusiastic captain.

Preparing to Cast Off

Answer the personal questions below as honestly and completely as you can. Answer as they concern your needs, no one else. None of this information is submitted over the Internet but remains on your computer temporarily while you use it. You may also SAVE or PRINT from the FILE menu to use this offline.

What is missing from your life?

Sample: A social life. I never have time just to sit and chat with women friends.

What do you long for but never allow yourself?

Sample: When I was younger I used to play guitar. I wish I could justify the time for practice again.

What personal necessities get slighted or neglected altogether?

Sample: Exercise! I want to do the fun kind, like swimming or walking, not bending to pick up stuff.

Ed next suggests you look for those obstacles which are crowding out your opportunities to fulfill the needs you listed above.

What’s driving you crazy at home?

Sample: The laundry. I’m doing it all, over and over and over.

What tasks would you like to give away? Have someone else do?

Sample: Meal planning. All I get is complaints for my choices.

What important things aren’t getting done, anyway?

Sample: The garden drip system went on the blink, and the plants are dying for lack of water.

Setting and Prioritizing Goals

Thinking about the above concerns should have helped you focus on your personal goals for the near future. You are ready to start setting and prioritizing your goals. This is not set in cement. You’ll want to redo as these goals are met and new concerns arise, probably once a year is enough.

Ed, in his workbook, “Destinations,” recommends you start by making a little table like this one, and filling in your own seven top personal needs in order to maintain your enthusiasm. I’ve entered a few to give you ideas. Keep or toss these, and add your own in the clear online table below. Mine: Solitude, Exercise, Grooming, Writing Time

Personal Goals








In the right column, list your seven top personal goals, in simple terms, chosen from the thoughts you entered above. Order doesn’t matter.

Goal #



Personal Goals


Next, compare, by number, each goal to another, select the goal that is most important to you. From the sample, if Solitude [#1] is more important than Exercise [#2], where it says 1 or ?, you’d click and hold on the down arrow, select 1 and release the mouse.

Goal 1 or ?

Goal 2 or ?

Goal 3 or ?

 Goal 4 or ?

 Goal 5 or ?

 Goal 6 or ?

Count the number of times in any row or column that each goal number has been selected, and enter in the second column of your Personal Goal chart above.

Next, rank your goals in order of the most frequently chosen to the least in the third column above. If there appears to be a “tie,” go back to the selection grid. The goal you chose there determines the tiebreaker.

Last of all, make an action plan on how you can meet these goals, at least to the extent you feel you can maintain enthusiasm for homeschooling. You may enter it here, or if you need more room, make your own larger chart offline.

Personal Action Plan

 Personal Goal

Specific plan
to meet this need

Frequency [Daily, Weekly, Monthly, etc.]

Priority #1
Priority #2
Priority #3
Priority #4
Priority #5
Priority #6
Priority #7

There! Feel better already, don’t you? Your spouse and older children may be interested in trying this exercise, too, and then you could compare your lists, see where they overlap and where others have goals of their own.

To save this worksheet, most browsers allow you to Print or Save from the FILE menu at the top of your screen.

For information on ordering Ed Dickerson’s workbook, “Destinations,” email him at his website or email:[email protected]

The nautical-themed workbook covers additional goal setting for your homeschool and strategies for attaining those goals. It also covers profiling your “crew” and help logging your progress to attaining your family goals. The workbook comes on 3-holed punched pages, ready to put in a binder. I paid $20 for it at the Home=Education Conference years ago. It is $25 now. Tell Ed you heard about his workbook at “A to Z Home’s Cool” from Ann Zeise.


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