11.24.2013

Because Home's Cool : Reflections on One Semester of Homeschooling

When I was younger, I assumed that making decisions as an adult would be relatively straightforward.  Wouldn't you just know?  Doesn't that knowing come with perfect clarity and unwavering peace? While that might be the case for some people, I'm not one of them.   I happen to be one who approaches big - life - changes with a mix of  lots of excitement with a  little apprehension, too.  My decisions generally aren't set in stone after one grand epiphany but rather changed and shaped along the way, reinforced by small nods giving us an inkling that we're (hopefully) on the right track.

biking

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.

park

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?

hugs

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.

my girls

relaxin


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.

1A2A6061

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.

spider webs
science

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.

piano practice

He also sings in our city's Children's Chorus.

pre performance
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
January.

clay fun

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.

loom

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.  :)

tea time

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.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this up. I really enjoyed reading how things are going for you with homeschooling. I hope it continues to work well for your family.

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    1. thanks so much for taking the time to leave this encouraging comment! i appreciate it!

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  2. I loved this update! And yes, my goodness, a babysitter sounds like a great idea. Nobody in my house enjoys running errands with all *two* of our children, and my work hours are generally a bit more reasonable than your husband's. You've got a lot more kids and less back-up. Everyone needs a bit of breathing room!

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  3. Wow. I could never do it but so glad to hear it is going well for you and your kids:)

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  4. I enjoyed reading this so much and it seems like you've found something that fits so well with your family's needs. Thank you for sharing! As a teacher I never really understood homeschooling, but now that I'm a parent I understand and appreciate it so much more. Do you think it helps to have four children at home? Obviously it makes it more difficult in some ways, but I wonder if it helps to have more personalities to balance things out for everyone.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts! With four kids, there is always someone to play with, that's for sure! :) I guess having a bigger family has its benefits and drawbacks when it comes to homeschooling. When I was at the kids' playgroup talking to moms of two kids, I noticed their kids were involved in a lot of activities. They were going to something - or a number of things - every day. We live in a big city so there are so many enrichment activities to choose from - from pottery classes, to classes at the zoo or our local museum, to roller skating gatherings. Personally, I think that's great! For our family, we can't be running to numerous outside activities every day. That would just be too much for me, and one of the reasons we chose to homeschool was to simplify our lives. This works well for our family because my kids aren't super extroverts - they like the balance of having somewhere to be three days a week and then having two school days at home. They also have a neighbor friend who they love to play with. But Jude and Indigo are just as happy staying home and playing chess together as they are going out to a playgroup.
      Before having Jude, I worked as a TA at a university and I absolutely love teaching. So it's a great fit for my personality. I get into reading about my curriculum options and tailoring my choices to meet my kids' needs. I have been thrilled by all they have learned and I genuinely enjoy teaching them (most days). :)

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  5. I just have to say that I am in awe of all that you do - and the fact that you do it with such grace. (I say this even more emphatically since I totally lost my cool with my kids yesterday after one of them dumped a half a gallon of milk on the carpet and the other one drew all over the carpet with marker).
    And I love the idea that homeschooling allows you to naturally adapt to your family’s own rhythm. It sounds like this has been such a great choice for you all!

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  6. I love that this is working so well for you guys! I knew you would rock it!!!

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    1. aw, thanks for the vote of confidence, jenny. that means a lot coming from you. <3

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