Homeschooling Your Children
For the last 20 years, I’ve taught my children at home. Homeschooling has provided both fulfillment and frustration. Some years, I have cried and begged my husband to put them in school. Other years, I felt like I was the mother of geniuses and prodigies. Overall, I feel the whole “experiment” has been a success and it was the right thing for us. That said, I do not believe that homeschooling is necessarily the right path for everyone.
Things to Consider Before Homeschooling
- It is a lifestyle, not a task.
- You need to know WHY you are homeschooling.
- Homeschooling is NOT school
- You have a responsibility to your children to do it right
Homeschooling is a Lifestyle
We made the decision to homeschool when our first child was going into kindergarten. Consequently, I naturally moved from teaching a toddler to eat with a fork, to ABC’s with a preschooler, to reading with a 5 year old. At the time, I did not have any real teaching experience, but neither did I have preconceived ideas of how it should be done. Looking back, I can see that my biggest asset was just plain common sense.
My wiggly boy did not want to sit still for hours of “schoolwork” each day, so I incorporated as much learning time into daily tasks as I could. I insisted we “read” together from a phonics program for fifteen minutes, twice a day. The rest of the day, I played games, or asked questions, or included him in my own activities.
- I had him identify words and numbers at the grocery store, as he hunted for favorite food items.
- I wrote words on index cards and let him tape them on the objects they represented.
- We listened to books on tape in the car.
- Lots of puzzles, coloring books, and even video games were incorporated into his “school day.”
By the time my son turned 6 years old, he could read just fine. His handwriting was legible, and he “knew” a lot of life skills. There were a few battles. His spelling was pretty bad, and he didn’t have a long attention span, but those problems resolved themselves over the next couple of years. Maturity cured the wiggles, not medicine, and the spelling was addressed with some intensive focus on my part in the 4th grade.
You Need to Know Why You Are Homeschooling
We chose to homeschool purely because we lived in a sub-standard school district and we knew we would be moving in the middle of the school year. Our intention was to only keep our son home through kindergarten; however, the whole homeschool experience was such a success, we made the decision to extend it another year.
Each year, we evaluated whether or not it would be best to keep all of them home or try something else. We kept at it because we realized that our children needed the security. My husband’s job required that we move every couple years and homeschooling provided continuity for our kids. We also noticed that our children had no concept of failure or problems with self-image. If they struggled with a subject, we just kept at it. There were no other students to compare themselves with, so there weren’t any feelings of inadequacy.
Homeschooling is NOT School
There are all sorts of teaching styles out there. I am not a proponent of any of them. Over the years, we have fallen into a pattern that cannot really be labeled. I use textbooks, but I’ve never felt the need to follow all of the directions. As a parent, I try to encourage my kids to indulge their interests as much as possible, but insist that they cover what I consider to be the basics needed for life.
This year, I will be homeschooling my last two children: a 7th grader and 9th grader.
Here is a typical week for them:
On Sunday, I hand them a list of the things I want them to accomplish for the week. They work independently and check their work. If they need help, they are to ask me, and I will go over it with them. I spot check their work at the end of each week. I try to incorporate one group project each week if possible.
The Weekly Schedule
- Math – Saxon Math, practice problems and odd problems, four lessons a week, no tests
- Science – Apologia Science, following the schedule set-up by the publisher. Open book tests.
- Grammar – Saxon Grammar, 4 lessons a week
- History – Tapestry of Grace (used only as a guideline) – lots and lots of reading, and essays.
All kids take piano lessons, participate in choir, and attend church regularly.
That’s it. No fancy equipment. No long days, for me, sitting around a kitchen table watching them work. I make myself accessible when needed and leave them to the process of independent learning when I’m not.
My oldest son graduated college as valedictorian. Our second child has been on the Honor Roll for 3 years. My daughter is currently taking college classes as a Senior in High School and will graduate with 36 college credits and holds a 4.0-grade point average.
I’ve asked them repeatedly what worked and what didn’t. The ones in college all say they appreciate learning to write well and knowing how to learn independently.
You Have a Responsibility to Your Children
Leaving them to learn independently does not mean you are not involved in their education. Since I don’t give tests, it has been important for me to keep an eye on their work and look for areas where they need improvement. The summer is full of long hours planning each year’s curriculum and goals. We don’t spend a lot of money on books, but we fork out quite a bit for music lessons. There have been times when that required some sacrifices on our part.
As each of our children has entered High School, we realistically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and try to help them find balance. Our responsibility as parents means that we are involved in our children’s lives and provide them with guidance as they determine their paths.
Take It One Year at a Time
I recommend that if you are new to homeschooling, you just set your goals for the upcoming year. Don’t look further. Why are you homeschooling? How best can you address that reason? Keep in mind that as parents, we do not have the power to obstruct God’s will for our children’s lives. Just say a prayer that you can be used as an asset. Don’t expect perfection in yourself or your children.
Just enjoy the time you spend with them. It goes by way too fast!
We are currently working on these very useful articles:
- My Kid Won’t Do His Schoolwork
- Bad Attitude – Mine Not Theirs
- Planning Out High School – In Depth
- Paying for College
- How to Juggle the Babies
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Do You Have Homeschooling Questions?
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