And so it was with our decision to homeschool. I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I was excited, but I also had some trepidation and self-doubt, too.
We started homeschooling in the summer, a test run of sorts, in case we decided it wasn't for us. The week before we started, I starting doubting whether this would be the right choice for our family. Let's face it, it's a lot of togetherness. Would my kids be at each other's throats? Would I turn into the world's biggest nag? Would we all feel cooped up? And how would I make it work with our tornado toddler Iris?
It didn't take long to see that many of these concerns were really not issues at all. I was surprised to see how much energy doing school work burned. It was nothing - and I mean nothing - like having the kids home for the summer with loads of unstructured free time. Their school work engages them. They are generally pretty focused about getting it done so that they can get on to whatever else they'd like to do.
Dan often works late and it's common for us to have dinner around 7:30-8p, so we can eat together as a family. When the kids were in school, the dinner hour was a challenge. The kids were at the end of their ropes after a long day of school + homework afterward. We'd have to rush through dinner to get started on our bedtime routine, so they'd be rested for school the next day. That's all changed - so much for the better. Now that the kids don't have to get up so early, we can relax and linger. Also, the kids are better rested and less worn out, so their behavior is better. In fact, we have fewer sibling conflicts now than we did during the school year last year.
Homeschooling with Iris has been a little challenging at times... but not insurmountable, as I had imagined. It took some time to work out the kinks, but I think we've found a pretty good rhythm now. It's important for me to play outside with the little girls every morning while the 'big' kids work on their school work. The teaching time isn't nearly as time-consuming as I was expecting. Being I'm working with the kids individually, it's easy to make progress quickly. Generally, I ask Jude to play with Iris and Tia while I work with Indigo and vice versa. We save our read-alouds for bedtime and our language arts for Iris' naptime. It's totally manageable.
After finding our rhythm academically in the first quarter, we were all getting a little restless and were ready to start adding some outside activities to our days. Jude started taking piano lessons.
He also sings in our city's Children's Chorus.
pre (casual) fall performance, nary a jitter to be found
The kids go to a playgroup every Tuesday afternoon. I think the girls will likely start a dance class in
Academically, the kids have done so well. Jude's worked through a year of Singapore Math in one semester. He can diagram sentences and has learned the most common Latin stems. He has read (almost) 4 classic books. Both kids have taken science classes at the zoo. Indigo's reading well, doing well in math, and still has lots of time to enjoy childhood.
The only area we are actively seeking to change is to find a reliable babysitter to help with some of the driving as our schedule fills up. It's challenging to drag all four kids everywhere we go. I end up playing Simon Says or Red Light - Green Light or otherwise trying to entertain the kids as we wait during Jude's lessons. I also need some flexibility to be able to do a few things- exciting, thrilling things like: going to the dentist or taking Iris in for a well check, or (I'm dreaming big here) running errands without having to bring all the kids along. (I avoid the latter at almost all costs!) :) Dan works around 60 hours a week and we don't have family around to help watch the kids, so I am not ashamed to admit I'd like to have a little more breathing room. :)
Overall, though, we have been absolutely thrilled with how well things are going and with our curriculum. I'd say our life feels more balanced now than it did when the kids were in traditional school. And best of all, our kids have loved it, too.