A friend of mine recently asked if I would blog about our year of homeschooling. Cramming it all into one blog post would be akin to drinking from a firehose, but I will do my best! I do have two previous posts that talk a little bit about our experience, and you can check those out if you'd like.
So! Homeschooling! I'll start with the basic info. For my oldest kiddo, we used Horizons curriculum for math and phonics, and for my middle, we used Bob Jones math and Explode the Code phonics (we did a blended preschool and kindergarten with her, and she will be going to kindergarten this fall). My youngest was basically along for the ride, and did a preschool workbook we found at Sam's, plus Handwriting Without Tears. Oh, and she also learned how to count to ten in Spanish...? Maybe from our oldest? Not sure how that happened. I'm fairly certain the youngest child learns strictly through osmosis.
I loved our school mornings together. We would do our read-aloud book during breakfast, then work on our memory verse, and then hit the books. If it was a nice day, we'd spread a blanket on the back patio and alternate worksheets with jumping on the trampoline or exploring around our property. The rest of the time, school happened at our breakfast nook table. All in all, it took about two hours for us to finish from beginning to end.
One aspect of homeschooling that I loved, LOVED, was making our own schedule. We took a lot of field trips to local museums, restaurants, parks, etc. It was fun to create a haphazard curriculum based on specific art exhibits (we did a fun day of "Wyeth and Warhol" when both artists were on display at a local museum). My favorites in life include art, music, and food, and it was fun to expose the kids to different experiences involving all three.
My Mom came along with us for most of our field trips, which was so fun. My second favorite thing about homeschooling is the copious amounts of family time that is involved, and we got a lot of it. We made a lot of sweet memories.
We homeschooled with a local Classical Conversations community. The kids basically went to "school" once a week (as a parent, I had to stay, too) and they learned memory work and gave weekly presentations. I loved the public speaking that was emphasized with CC, and saw my kids really grow in their ability to express themselves.
I know this begs the question, "Then why did you choose to stop homeschooling?" It's a fair one. Our kids had previously attended a school that we loved, so when it came time to choose to re-enroll with CC or go back to their old school, we felt that we needed to establish a baseline for their education (rather than change every year, which I could totally see myself doing), and we wanted that baseline to be their old school. We know that things can always change and we now know that we could homeschool again if the need arises. We feel incredibly blessed with the options we have. I am excited for them to return to a school they love, and I am also dreading the moment when I will walk into my empty house after dropping them off. Don't get me wrong, I love my quiet time as much as the next Mom, but I know the house will feel lonely. As with anything, their success at school and my experience at home will depend squarely on the attitude with which we choose to face it. I'm already praying for a good attitude for all of us as we prepare to start back up in August! And this will be a new chapter for me--being home alone, three days a week--and I am praying for clarity as to my next step in this new chapter as well.
This past year I learned the importance of catching the hearts of our children, to truly invest in their learning, to be intentional in seeing things through their eyes. I learned that success is not dependent on how you measure up to anyone else, it's measured in tenacity, in diligence, in suddenly recognizing the letter "r" as "r" instead of "f", after weeks of seeing it otherwise. God created their little minds to function as they do for a reason and I felt that this year I was able to really see that clearly. I know that it doesn't necessarily take homeschooling in order to see that, but it did take homeschooling for me to see it. As they enter back into the classroom with checks and marks and prizes and honor rolls this next year, I want them to know that their highest achievement will be to remain tenacious and imaginative, to love learning, and to finish each day knowing that they gave their best. To know that assessments simply measure selective knowledge, not intelligence, and that God is preparing the way to greater things for them regardless of their class ranking. As for me, I learned that the home remains our children's greatest influence, the words we speak here and the perspective from which we see the world are always under the observation of little eyes and ears. Whether they are here or in a classroom, their scope of compassion and worldview are cultivated within our walls. It is both a heavy responsibility and an inspiring privilege.
Have a lovely day!