What I thought homeschooling should be...[but its not.]

The first year of homeschooling was comparable to feeling around in a completely dark room. You run into a few things unexpectedly. You may knock a few things down. You stumble, you fall, you get hurt....but eventually, you find the lightswitch you've been searching for. I'm thankful I've found that lightswitch. {But it wasn't easily found} It turns out that this particular lightswitch has a dimmer feature, and as I increase the brightness in the room, I am further enlightened on how I may have just gone about that first year all wrong.

Here is what I thought homeschooling should be...[but its not.]

a Xerox copy of public school.If it was supposed to be, you might as well send your child to public/traditional school. Just go ahead and file this one away into your personal recycle bin.

a lot of sitting down, and a lot of worksheets.Turns out, worksheets don't work and sitting down all the time is just dumb. And when you have little boys doing the lots of sitting and lots of worksheets, prepare yourself for battle. Instead, keep seat work and worksheets to a minimum and do some real learning! Get out of the house, into nature, discover, explore, inquire, go on field trips....lots of them!  Give breaks as needed, go for nature walks, be spontaneous and encourage movement from the little ones as they are learning. Kids having fun AND learning??? That's priceless. And I guarantee they will retain more information this way than from any colorful worksheet.

very scheduled.I quickly found out that with having ONLY {four} little ones, this schedule you made with the BEST of intentions, will NEVER be followed like it should. Homeschooling should give freedom, not restrict it. One must be willing to account for major/minor mishaps, toddler tantrums, nursing babies, sick mamas, cranky "students", and just any other wrench that might get thrown into the mix. Relax. Throw out that rigid schedule, and decrease your blood pressure all at once! If you cant get everything done that you meant to that day, thats OKAY! And if you arent on the same number lesson for phonics and math, thats OKAY too!! [this one I've had to work on A LOT] And did I mention, relax?!?

a necessary burden.  We were excited, but very nervous at first thought of homeschooling our kids. We weighed our options and almost felt sometimes that we really had no other choice. I have an uneasiness about public school that I've never been able to shake off and private school, whether Christian or not, is just not financially feasible. We even looked into charter schools as a sort of last resort before taking the homeschooling plunge, but that was a HUGE bust. What I knew more than anything was that God called us gently to this, He's given me a love for teaching since I was a young child, and I knew that with His help, I can and will be an effective teacher for my children. It only took the summer before my oldest sons' Kindergarten year for me to see how amazing it is to be my child's teacher. Teaching my son how to read was hard work, but when I sat with him each day and saw visible progress, lightbulbs going off in his head, and in just a few short weeks going from a non-reader to second grade level, I was hooked. I cried even. What a PRIVILEGE to walk with him through that journey. We did it! Together! I couldn't wait to jump in to a school year filled with new discoveries and concepts.

like everyone else'shomeschool. It's so hard to not be that mom that compares what her kids are doing to what others are doing in their homeschool. There's countless opportunities to compare curriculums, schedules, activities, learning tips, progress, and goals with other homeschooling parents. What great opportunities these are as long as you stay guarded and protect the homeschool you have. Take any information you receive during these conversations and weigh them heavily against your personal homeschool philosophy, your child's specific learning style, and consider your entire home situation {number of kids you have, naptimes, working around a work/volunteer schedule, etc} before feeling the need to add this or that to what you already do. What works for them may not work for you....and that's OKAY!

Although last year was hard and so stretching, I am so thankful for what lessons I learned along the way. I'm thankful for the mentors God gave me in veteran homeschoolers. I'm thankful for an extremely supportive husband who loved to praise me and encourage me along...especially on the rough days. I am thankful for friends that God allowed to choose homeschooling the same time we did so I had a friend to walk with in that dark room. I am also thankful that I get the GIFT of educating my own children for the glory of Christ because it is indeed a GIFT! I am committed to home education for as long as God wills and am very humbled by His grace. I am so proud of my children and I am so loving this second year so far of our homeschooling adventures! I will always look back on that first trying year with such fond memories....but boy, am I glad it's over!:)

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-Alicia