MINOOKA – Laura Dominick’s original vision for “A Plan for Joy in the Home: A Workbook for Organizing Your Day for Homeschooling Mothers” wasn’t a book. It was a workshop, based on Dominick finally achieving order in her home and home school.
“I never felt like I was getting anything done,” Dominick, of Minooka, said. “I felt like I was going from one child to the next and answering questions and never in any organized fashion.”
It took years for Dominick to create a system that worked for her. Then, instead of teaching a formal method to other home schooling moms who felt overwhelmed, Dominick began offering workshops that showed them how to structure their days.
Only when Dominick decided she wanted home-schoolers outside the Chicago area to have access to her work did she decide to publish her materials. What makes her book effective, Dominick said, is its adaptability, especially for home-schooling parents teaching multiple grades and juggling competing responsibilities.
“How do you spread yourself so that you teach each of your children in the way they need to be taught?” Dominick said. “How do you keep your house livable and everyone dressed and fed while still nourishing yourself and actually having time to spend with my husband? Throw in a cranky toddler and special needs or learning disabilities, and you’re compounding the issue.”
Dominick’s book addresses five core areas: prayer time, chore time, school time, meal time and husband/family/personal time. Because Dominick is Catholic, she admits the first section has a decidedly Catholic slant.
“With a few minor changes, it could apply to anyone of any faith who wants a prayer life,” Dominick said. “Without that prayer life, I think you’re missing an important foundation of your entire day and your entire home-schooling experience. It’s not an easy lifestyle to be around your family 24/7.”
One way for tackling chores, Dominick said, is to decide what jobs need to be done and who is available to complete them. The same goes for handling schoolwork, she added. For instance, can an older child assist a younger child? Will each child have one-on-one time with mom?
“Or is it simpler to say, ‘From 9 to noon and from 1 to 3 we’re going to do school,’ and leave it at that?” Dominick said.
Dominick recommends meal planning, but that view partly comes from not living close to a grocery store. It’s inconvenient for Dominick to drive 30 minutes into town for two cans of soup she forgot on shopping day, she said.
The last section, Dominick said, helps busy home-schooling parents map out times with their spouses, families, themselves and even general errands. Some parents, Dominick said, might need refining only in certain sections. If so, skip the irrelevant parts, she said.
“It doesn’t have to be rigid,” Dominick said, knowing some people dislike formal schedules. “It’s meant to make you think.”
Now in her 16th year of home schooling, Dominick understands no schedule goes according to plan. A fussy baby means spelling words are drilled by yelling louder. Some parents stress academics; others see value in sports, too. On challenging days, a skeleton plan means the basics can get covered.
“I know I can always make it up the next day,” Dominick said.
Having graduated three children from high school and still teaching her youngest four children, Dominick said she once thought home-schoolers were “crazy” and that she didn’t have enough patience to home-school. She suddenly changed her mind the spring before her oldest started kindergarten.
“And we never looked back,” Dominick said.
“A Plan for Joy in the Home: A Workbook for Organizing Your Day for Homeschooling Mothers” can be purchased through Dominick’s website: www.aplanforjoyinthehome.com.