articles / Family life / Homeschooling

Homeschool is about how we school

As I waste my time away looking at the mommy blogs and homeschool groups on Facebook I find that another homeschool is about to bite the dust. The mom is frustrated. She’s concerned about how it will work if her child decides to pursue sports as he gets older. She’s been uncomfortable with the curriculum she’s chosen. She doesn’t like how every day seems like a struggle. Her family isn’t super supportive and within her first year she’s considering throwing in the towel.

The frustration is real. The burnout is real. The desire to hide in your closet and cry some days instead of try to teach your children is a real possibility.

From the women I have seen that have given up or on the verge of giving up there’s one common theme: They’re trying to fit into a certain mold.

“We’re going to use XXX curriculum and we’re going to do school 3 hours a day, 4 days a week, 30 weeks a year.”

Why? Because that’s the way so and so does it and it works.

“We’re going to forget curriculum and we’re going to just study nature and learn naturally and simply follow guidelines. We’re going to be super flexible and encourage our children’s love of learning.”

Why? Because that’s the way so and so does it and it works.

 

You know what? What so and so does that works, may not work for you and your kids. It may not even remotely work. It may be catastrophic. It may push you to the brink of giving up.

Homeschool is about how I am comfortable teaching and how my kids best learn. It’s not about what every mom in your co-op does or what every mom in your mommy group does. It’s about what works best for your family.

I have homeschooled Josiah for two years (we’re in the process of year three). I have taught him through preschool, Kindergarten, first grade, and we’re working on second grade now. For preschool and Kindergarten Josiah was very worksheet oriented. He wanted to sit at a school desk and learn (most of the time). I bought a book to get through preschool.

Once Josiah hit Kindergarten I started developing my own curriculum that fit my teaching style and Josiah’s learning style. He’s been very hands on, natural learning about science and social studies, but has been very standard about how he learns language and math.

By the beginning of first grade we had moved the school desk to create a whole classroom look and Josiah liked it. After the first few weeks of second grade I realized that wasn’t going to work anymore. He didn’t like sitting around behind a desk with me standing in front of a marker board anymore.

We moved all of the daily school stuff to the kitchen table, a less secluded part of the house. Now it was less lecture from me and more guiding him as I sat with him at the table. He’s responded to that much better than he was the desk at the beginning of second grade. We started out the school year with me choosing what subject we did and when. Josiah, like all children and adults, wasn’t always in the mood to do what I was planning on us doing. School for us wasn’t about me saying “I say we’re doing XXX because I said so and you’ll be happy with it,” it was about Josiah completing the school work he needed to complete. I could care less what order he did it in. So he started picking the order and for a while that worked.

Then he started trying to leave out reading (his least favorite subject) and started trying to focus on math and cursive. I noticed he was slipping behind in some key areas. So now, starting today I’ve put one or two days worth of each subject in a large plastic envelope. He will have the option to complete the school work in that folder in whatever order he chooses, but once math is gone out of the folder he can’t do anymore math until the folder is empty. This way he feels like he has some control over what subjects he’s studying for the day, but I also have the security of knowing that he’s not going to fall behind because he’s getting way ahead in one area and ignoring another.

Sometimes we have to school differently because of different things we have going on in our life. I am 15 weeks pregnant which means for about 13 weeks school was very lax because Momma was tired. School is about to pick up for a few months and then we’ll slow down again when baby is born.

Don’t force yourself into a mold. Your family is not my family. My family is not my sister-in-law’s family. My sister-in-law’s family is not our other sister-in-law’s family (all three of us daughter-in-laws homeschool). Trying to force yourself and your children into a mold will only push you towards giving up and fitting into the public school mold. Obviously if you’ve chosen homeschooling you know you don’t want to fit into that mold.

Feel frustrated? Feel like giving up? Take a break. You’re kids are not going to suffer if you take a week or two (or more) break in the middle of fall or in the middle of April.

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