Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I Should Be Vacuuming.

So! I said I would keep the updates coming in regards to our decision to homeschool this year and look at me! No updates! It's like I'm busy or something, HA. Or I'm jockeying for a turn on the computer amidst my avid Starfall-loving children.

I'll go ahead and categorize these into "Good, Bad, and Ugly". Here it goes!

The Good:

The perks of homeschooling are what I thought they would be: Lots of family time, no more hectic mornings trying to shoo everyone out the door, and a relaxed home environment all-around. I love our routine (I would go absolutely nuts without a routine, which is why, I think, summer break can get REALLY OLD after only a few weeks ... no routine!) of waking up, taking our time with breakfast, doing morning chores, and then starting our school work. I've loved the flexibility of doing what we want to do, when we want to do it. Beautiful weather means we're outside. Hot hot hot weather means we're getting more sit-down work done inside. I've loved our Classical Conversations community and the once-a-week classroom setting my kids get to experience with different kids and their tutors. I love their memory work and the content of Classical Conversations, even if the memorization songs get a little mind-numbing at times (next time you see me, I will give you my operatic rendition of skip-counting the two's, if you would like). I love tailoring our week's learning to whatever interests my kids at the moment. For example, when last month's flash floods (followed by hot, muggy weather) hit our area, mushrooms popped up all over our yard. So, we picked them and spent a week studying the exciting world of FUNGI, woo-hoo. And I found a rotted mushroom in one of my tupperware containers last week. Awesome. Gah. My oldest is in first grade, so school doesn't take more than a couple of hours, if that. I'm taking advantage of their young ages by having lots of fun. We have an activity every day, whether it's CC, gymnastics, BMX, church, or piano lessons. We go to the kids' museum, we go bowling, we have fun. Homeschooling looks differently in that way than I thought it would. I like it.

The Bad:

I don't know if anything has been BAD about our experience thus far with homeschooling, but I have encountered challenges when it comes to knowing how to translate a classroom curriculum into a one-on-one tutoring-ish situation. Does that make sense? I'm getting better at understanding the different learning styles of each of my kids. Caleb reads it, gets it, moves on. Naomi needs to touch it, shake it, taste it, and manipulate it to believe its true (she is my child, for sure). Just like she had to touch the stove as a toddler before she believed it was hot. And Lydia is kind of along for the ride, so I'm still figuring her out. I put a crazy amount of pressure on myself since I am now their "teacher", so my tendency is to nit-pick things. Like, say, this blog post. Many of you may read it and point out my typos. How can someone who uses so many commas be capable of educating children?! The struggle is real. So, I would say that I am learning to step back and see the bigger picture. Pretty much once a day I have to zoom out, refocus, and approach our day with a broadened perspective. What are we really trying to accomplish here? Do we beat a certain concept to death or do we take a break and revisit it? Exasperated kids don't learn, and I'm learning to maneuver my way through being tough and focused and giving grace. On myself and on my children. I want my kids to love to learn. We have math curriculum and a phonics curriculum that we follow and I am figuring out how to make it work for my kiddos. We read a lot, read aloud a lot, and are acquiring quite a library of books ranging from Beverly Cleary's Henry Huggins to old-school encyclopedias to books about George Muller. I read to them while they eat lunch. Awesome tip I learned from a friend. They can't talk when their mouths are full of food!

One thing I struggled with was comparing the experience my kids are getting at home to the experience they would have if they were at school all day, every day. People have very strong opinions about education and I felt that if they disagreed with homeschooling, they disagreed with me personally and that's kind of hard for me to take. But wow, I had to get over that. People disagree all the time. What matters is that we are doing what we feel is best for our little family at this time, until God tells us to do something differently, no matter what that looks like--public school, private school, or homeschool--we trust Him. It's not complicated.

Oh, and I have to try to stay organized whilst also trying to cook and keep the house somewhat clean-ish. It's an ongoing process.

The Ugly:

Vowel digraphs.

No, really, I hate them.

So, in summation, homeschooling is going well. Not every day is great--I have definitely had my share of "Mommy Time-Outs" over the past few months. But this process is refining and while it is hard at times, the rewards have been worth it.

Also, I've learned how to take care of myself amidst all of this. I'm training for a marathon (I'm a psycho, I know), so at least three times a week, I'm up early, running with a friend before the sun comes up. I have a quiet drive into town on those mornings, and I use that time to pray and focus for the day. It's the only time that I'm alone in the car. :) Running is something that I do for myself and having that time is super-important. We have "rest time" every afternoon, where the girls nap and Caleb has to read in his room for one hour. I use that time to do whatever I want--watch Cutthroat Kitchen, browse Pinterest, crash and nap from my early running wake-up time--that time is mine, and necessary for my sanity. I make time in our schedule to see friends, and for me to see friends alone, too. All of these things matter!

So, there you have it. An update. Have a lovely day!