Friday, March 16, 2012

Reflections of our first year schooling at home

Here's my top ten list of things I've learned this year:

10. Yes, its okay to stay in pajamas while we learn. I started off the school year saying we would get dressed. But this being our first year of homeschooling...I think its one of the things my daughters love best. Who cares right? After we learn, we get dressed and get out the door to wherever we gotta go! Not every one of my homeschool friends do this and that's okay, too. Its the beauty of homeschooling...we're flexible!
9. We stay up a little later than we probably should. My daughters are all the time saying, "Regular school kids are probably in bed." Sometimes we just like to spend more family time together and with my husband sometimes working late - we stay up late. We don't do it all the time...they do have a bed time of 10:00 on school nights. They are happy with that time, because its 2 hours later than when they were in public school. However, there are sometimes that we do have to make exceptions.
8. We sleep in longer than we probably should. I've learned for my daughters that if I wake them up too early, they are just cranky. No one wants to learn when they are cranky. I want my kids to want to learn. So we wake up at 9 (3 hours later than if we were in public school). When we wake up, we get breakfast and usually wake up with reading a story to start off the day. Again, not all my homeschool friends do this. Another beauty of homeschooling - we can do what works for our family. And there are always exceptions...if we really had a rough night, I let them sleep in. Its great!
7. Transitioning from public school to school at home is rough. This is hard in two ways, one it was hard on my oldest who was in public school for 3 years and knew nothing else. Two, I've had to get out of the "public school" mentality. Which means...its not always "textbooks, textbooks, textbooks...." I've learned that everyone CANNOT learn with a textbook in front of them. They just aren't going to all grasp it in that way. The way my oldest daughter learns is completely different from my youngest daughter. I can't just make my youngest daughter "copy" spelling words. She just copies and doesn't learn. So, we had to come up with other ways of learning. Its great though. I love learning her style!
6. In saying "textbooks, textbooks, textbooks," it is possible to finish a curriculum WAY under the time of regular public school. My oldest daughter and I finished her language arts curriculum in January and we finished her math curriculum in February. Now, we're just reviewing and doing fun stuff...for instance, Mad Libs! Since we are way ahead of schedule, I'm trying to learn to relax more when it comes to getting things done. Everything is gradually coming along though and I'm so confident in where we will be next year.
5. Learning is ALL DAY. Whether we are working on chores, character, getting along, or scenery on the roads - we are learning. Its amazing how I don't blow my daughters questions out the window anymore and just say "because". When they were in public school, I used to teach my kids stuff but I also thought, “Oh, they’ll learn how to read/how to do that specific math skill/etc. in school so I’m not going to worry about it.” So if I didn't want to explain why something was the way it was...I would just say, "because." That word is overused. Now my focus is more like stop and seize the learning opportunity whenever you can. It is my focus and my passion and it’s caught on with my husband as well. Now, there's an explanation to everything. When the kids are curious, give them answers.
4. Christ is the center of our home more, now than EVER! Its such an amazing difference to have Christian curriculum. My oldest really enjoyed her reading this year, as a lot of it was about missionaries in other countries that were condemned and even almost lost their lives because of telling the Gospel of Christ. Its also amazing to learn about bugs or animals and realize how SMART and GENIUS God was when he made them. Whether they were camouflaged or whatever - its just amazing to see God's creations and not just "Science."
3. The "S" word (socialization) from non-homeschoolers is really starting to amuse me. While public school kids are in a classroom sitting for 8 hours a day...my kids are at park days, having friends over, baking with friends, jumping junction with friends, field day, karate class, piano lessons, YMCA with friends, 4-H Club for Homeschoolers, Children's theatre, and field trips such as zoo, space museum, symphony, Korean Children's choir, Spelling Bee, The Lost Sea, Tybee Island (Marine Life, Civil War Museums, Lighthouse), and Red Clay Indian Pow Wow...just to name a few (listed as all we have done this year). So if you worry about my kids not being socialized...well, if you are on my facebook - I'm sure you see pictures of my kids with friends all the time. The only socialization my kids are missing is the socialization I don't want them around this day in age. Things start way earlier now in public school than they did when I was in school. Fighting in elementary school, pregnancies in middle school...this is what my kids are missing out on. Not much, huh?
2. My girls and I have made some amazing friends with other homeschool families. Even if our teaching style is different, they are so encouraging. It being our first year of schooling at home, they've made sure to include us in things and pull us in. Its easy to make friends with them, you already have one thing in common which is an easy discussion starter. LOL! I'm so blessed with the friendships my girls and I have made.
1. I've got a closer relationship to my daughters now more than ever before and its growing more and more EVERYDAY. I've always thought my relationship has been okay with my daughters, but I don't think I realized how much of their life I was missing out on. Now - its wonderful! My oldest daughter and I have stayed up WAY TOO LATE at night in her bed...just talking! Its been wonderful learning about her. She's learning me and I'm learning her. We have learned HOW to talk to each other. I've learned who they really are. I've learned their hearts! My daughters have found their own styles. In public school, my oldest was "Miss Priss". She worried about her clothes constantly and if they would live up to her friends expectations. NOW - she's don't a complete 180. She dresses how she wants to dress and most of the time, its based on comfort. Their personalities finally have confidence that grows. It is not based on peers that they have been around for 8 hours a day. They are being true to who they are! I really feel like they are growing their own independence. They are making friends that like them for WHO THEY REALLY ARE! I am so proud of them.


Now, the year isn't quite over for us yet. But it won't be long and it will be coming to an end when we will take a break. Everyone says, "the first year is the hardest." I look back at this past year and I think, "I can do this...it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be." The only struggles we've really had is "de-schooling." That goes for me and the kids both. I don't want us to have "class at home." We don't sit at desk all day and have a pencil in our hand all day. Sometimes, I could see myself getting back to that and I don't want to. It takes a lot of preparing to come up with things so that we don't do that. My kids love being busy! As long as they are busy (which they have been for the past couple of months), they are happy. I'm learning that, too. They can't get in a lazy mode or else their attitude isn't the greatest. So as busy as they are, with me as their chauffeur, I enjoy seeing them happy. I enjoy the rewarding experience of capturing their "a-ha! moments". I enjoy seeing them socialize and seeking out friendships. I enjoy seeing them learn. I am learning so much myself! Its really the most rewarding experience, especially when its your own child. My youngest daughter has started a chapter book and I just sit back and think, "Wow! I taught her how to read." I couldn't do this without the support of my family. Both sides of my husband and I's family are supportive. My mom-in-law calls me to ask me questions about my nephew's homework and it makes me feel so flattered. My mom constantly reminds me of how proud she is of me and it makes me feel so grateful and thankful. I'm so glad that I have a supportive family. I'm so glad that I answered God's call to do this. Even in times when I sometimes feel discouraged, God will put something or someone in my way that just confirms we are doing the right thing.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
-Proverbs 22:6

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for a glimpse into your first year. Question: What reading curriculum did you use? That is one thing I don't have ready yet, and am looking for something Christ based. Thanks :)
    Shellie

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  3. Shellie, this year, we've used Abeka and also supplemented with progressivephonics.com. Progressivephonics.com is a free online program and I love it and don't know what I'd do without. They have books that teach the lesson, such as "when two vowels go a walking, the first one does the talking and calls out its REAL name." I loved the online books, because it taught me and my child a story to go with the phonics rules. Then we would just use Abeka readers and charts to reinforce it. Beware I didn't by the whole Abeka program, but my 6 year old is reading great!! My 4th grader is also using Abeka. She loves that they are Christian books. :) We will continue to use Abeka next year.

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