Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Joy of Homeschooling

My prayer for 2011, is for the Lord to restore my joy in Christ. The world and all the circumstances in it nearly destroyed my and my family's spirit last year. I need a refreshed outlook on my God, my King, my Savior who puts meaning in all this mess of my life and this world.

Lately, I haven't been excited about much, we're a few weeks away from losing steady income and scared to death. If you would, please send up a prayer for a job for my husband. Please....

In the midst of this worry today, buried in design work, laundry, our first day back to homeschooling, two feverish children on the couch, potty training and a headache that won't subside, I received an email from a friend asking about why I chose to homeschool. For the first time in a while I felt excited! And I was MORE than happy to respond right away. The email communication went a little something like this:

So, I wanted to pick your brain about homeschooling. We are considering it... just in early stages of praying and looking into it. I am overwhelmed! Can you tell me what lead you to your decision? And, give me the ups and downs? For me the main reason is just that I hate that [my son] is gone for sooooo long each day at such a young age. And, when he is home he is tired and cranky so we don't get his best hours to do all the at home learning (music, Bible, etc...) that I want to do. Does that make sense or am I being an overprotective, controlling mom? ;) Also, how do you work it with the little ones? I think [my little girl] could join in on some of it, but not [the baby] yet. Just wondering how you work it out logistically. So, whenever you have time, which may be never, I realize!!

"Hi! We're doing okay, just down to the wire with the job search.....

Ahhh, homeschooling! I am SO glad we decided to bring the kids back home this year after having them in the [private] school last year!

The Ups:
First, we love the flexibility of being able to travel and not be on some 'master schedule' that someone else has planned where we have to ask special permission to do things with our children. (That just never set well with me).

Second, while my house is a little messier and there's more sibling and parent to child conflict - there are many more opportunities to teach real 'life' skills of communication, working as a team on chores/running a household/meal planning/personal responsibility, serving one another, talking with neighbors and people of all ages as opposed to just their peer groups. Not to mention more opportunities to pour God's word into every situation in those "Best hours" as you put it!

I do want the 'best hours' of my child's day, being present to encourage them, avoid or alleviate frustrations (allowing them to take a break when they need it), and create a routine that works best for our family as a whole and for each individual. I love walking them through the day, my getting to know who they are, and helping them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, helping them to focus on God in even the little moments.

Most of all, I realize that my children will, Lord willing, be with us only for a small fraction of their lives, so I want to lay a strong foundation under them that includes a strong familial relationship, that encourages them to be confident in Christ, independent of the world and teaches them how to be life-long learners.

One of the things I hated last year was feeling like we had two separate families - the school kids and the little ones. It didn't feel like a family unit. Now that they're home, they're playing more with their little sisters, using their imaginations more, and not growing up so fast. I personally see (and hear from friends who have their children in school) their peers who are in school, even Christian schools, focusing more on boy/girl relationships, putting one another down, bathroom humor, etc. While we've had the 'talk' with our big kids (7&9), they still play with cars and dolls and aren't as interested in the latest Disney preteen shows. (I admit, I'm not a big Disney fan, in general).

I love that I can focus on building up where they are individually weak and encourage their strengths, helping them every day to see God's giftings in their lives and how that fits with God's calling on each of them.

As for concerns over socialization, usually we are involved in a co-op or really, just a support group of about 10 families that do field trips together and have park/play dates regularly.

Incorporating little ones....Because of our style of schooling - short lessons given by me, then the kids go do their assignments, coming back to me for help, the little ones either are in the room quietly coloring/playdoh/puzzles, etc, are watching a very limited amount of tv/Sesame Street or Sprout, or freely playing in their room together.

Every day may look somewhat different, but I really try to incorporate learning in everything we do. For example, during meals I have eaten beforehand so that I can teach or read while they quietly eat (This usually makes for a pretty peaceful mealtime). During breakfast, I try to read a short bible story (Catherine Vos, Child Story Bible) which the kids narrate/retell in a journal later or read from Susan Hunt's ABC Bible Verses book. Then, during lunch (again, I've already eaten or eat later) I read aloud a chapter book and ask comprehension questions; we recently finished the Narnia series. The kids still have their own age appropriate chapter books to read as an assignment.

The downs:
You have to be more intentional about having time for yourself - hopefully [your husband] could help protect and encourage that time for you. I used to have one night a week designated to get out of the house....We still need to work on that! We do have a "quiet hour" or two during [my 2 year old's] nap when the big kids have quiet time in their own rooms doing a quiet activity. That hour or two is priceless!

As I said before, where there are people, there's sin, so there's a lot more opportunity for your kids to see your sin -and your repentance!

You are in no way being overprotective or controlling! There is no one who loves your child (on earth) more than you and [your husband], so no one else has their best interest in mind as much as you! It is fun experiencing those 'light bulb' moments when they 'get' a new concept and I am always so excited that they love to read when you give them rich literature.

I'm going to send you some links to other sites and maybe some blogs that are really good either for curriculum or just encouragement.

In our efforts to save money, I piece together curriculum and use the library a ton. I use book lists from Sonlight and Veritas and Ambleside to get ideas for age appropriate books that are very rich, 'living books' that fuel the imagination and are not dumbed down. I use Abeka for math, the Get Ready for the Code and Explode the Code series are great for little ones learning to read and write. Beautiful Feet and/or Story of the World for history and God's Design for Science. For art, there are projects within the history curriculum we do and I also use a book called Discovering Great Artists that teaches short lesson or bio on the artist and has a project to do. We also use the internet as a resource.

I know I've written a book, but I'm always encouraged and ever reminded of why I'm doing this when someone asks! So thank you for asking!"

Thank you friend for reminding me of why I chose this and why I love it. Thank you, Lord for restoring my joy of homeschooling in this hour!

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautifully written description of why homeschool. I too want to be the biggest part of laying a good foundation for my son.

    Kathi Sewing, Knitting, Candle Making, Homeschooling Mama