I’ve been wanting to blog lately, but have been coming up dry for a topic. I’m still cooking and sewing and telling childhood tales, but most of my energy lately has been focused on homeschooling. And since I haven’t ever addressed that topic on this blog, I figured why not?
Last year, when my shop was going great guns, homeschool took a back seat. I was still doing it, but I had stopped making it my primary object. We took a break when the new baby came, but started up again in July, part time. In August, when the hubby took my oldest boy to France for a month, I took the time to reassess what exactly I wanted homeschool to look like.
I found I didn’t really have a clear answer. I’m writing this to try and clear the cobwebs out of my own mind, but feel free to keep reading and tell me what you think.
To be honest, I never really wanted to homeschool. I have no great theories as to why homeschool is the best, or why going to school is bad. The main reason I started was pragmatic. It was a financial issue. The hubby had just lost his job, so we took my oldest out of first grade at a local private school. Public school is not an option for us. We are zoned for some of the worst schools in the city, and my own small experience in public schools has left me a little scarred. So we brought him home.
He was and is such a smart boy- a strong reader and writer by the end of Kindergarten, and eager to please. All I needed to do was give him a stack of books, and a bit of guidance. He did the rest. Easy-peasy.
But things are different now. I am now teaching three. And two of them haven’t already learned to read and write from a competent teacher. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am not a good teacher. In fact, I will go so far as to say I really don’t care much for teaching at all. I have never been taught how to teach others and it doesn’t come naturally.
So now, instead of a quiet, studious six year old independently reading high school level books on my couch while his little brothers play blocks in the bedroom, I find myself in a totally different scenario.
Days begin with a nursing baby, a really grumpy three year old who never wakes up on the right side of the bed, and three big hungry boys who hardly let me get a shower before banging on the door, asking what there is to eat. Coffee is slurped while eggs fry, and then we multitask lessons. Daddy speaks french while they eat breakfast, while mommy drills them on Bible verses after they have put down their forks. Chores are completed.
Then the juggling of three separate classes- different levels of piano instruction, handwriting practice, grammar, phonics, reading, math- workbooks, pencils, crayons and notebooks scattered pell mell over our tiny house.
My nine year old is starting to push boundaries, to question why Mom is making him do all this.
My seven year old is often found crying in a corner because reading is still so hard for him and his little brother is passing him up.
My five year old is just five and can’t sit still for more than three seconds at a time.
My three year old- well, my three year old is a hilariously naughty piece of work. I’ll leave it at that.
And my baby. My sweet, lovely baby is wonderful and adorable and needs to be everlasting fed and changed and burped and bounced.
But every day I force myself to push on. My goal is to finish school with a group history or science lesson at lunch. And then we are done. More often than not, we succeed in getting most of it done.
I hope those who may be contemplating homeschool are not scared off by this picture. I know that homeschool is not for everyone. There have been many, many days when I wonder is it is right for us. I’ve read the pros and cons until I am blue in the face. I live in constant fear of failing my kids, of failing to teach them what they need to know. But for us, it still comes down to being the only viable option right now. Our house is too small, our resources are limited, my patience wears thin, but this is where we are. So I must look to the bright side. And there are more than one.
My oldest boy and I have discovered a shared love of writing stories. He is writing a thrilling chapter book, and every day I look forward to see what he has written next. We discuss plots and characters and he eagerly reads me each completed page.
And getting to assign him all my favorite books to read so we can discuss them together? Priceless.
My second boy is slow in picking up new things, but homeschool has allowed me to see a different side of him. Instead of being at the bottom of his class in a schoolroom, I have been able to see his slowness as a strength. A mind full of curiosity that has the patience to sit and figure out how a thing works- a passion for observing nature, and a willingness to keep at a task until he gets it right, no matter the time it takes.
And my sweet and goofy third child- his incessantly moving limbs would have him in constant trouble in a classroom. He seems to learn best swinging by his feet from the top bunk, and that is something I can let him do. The other day, he read an entire book while standing on his head. A little unorthodox, but it does the trick. He’ll learn to sit still someday.
And my three year old. He is hilarious and naughty and very bright. He is absorbing all that is going on around him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he taught himself to read by the end of the year. That would be a bonus.
And with all of them, when tears and temper and frustration inevitably erupt, I can put a pause on everything until it is resolved. I can deal with their hearts as well as their heads. I am seeing more and more how terribly important that is.
And with all the crazy of my mornings, I find the craziness is just about compensated for the freedom of the afternoon. No homework, no racing around town, no extra curricular mayhem. Just time to play- to take a walk, have a leisurely lunch or a picnic. And of course, take a nap!
So I suppose it’s not really a question of which is better. It’s more a matter of putting the best face on what is before me and being thankful for the ability to do it. And I trust, if we ever did put the kids in school, it would be the same.