We have just finished our first quarter of home school. I can’t believe it. I’ve worried about whether I’m teaching them enough and if they’re up to grade level. I have been giving the older kids some standardized national tests that I found online, and so I guess I can gauge off those results how they’re doing. My main concerns are that the kids stay (or get to) grade level in Math, English, and Science. Everything else that I teach is just a bonus at this age.
I have changed my style quite significantly since I started. I am such an organized person that I thought I needed to have my home school planned to a tee. I know there are a lot of home schoolers out there who are a lot more casual, but that approach scared me. Now that I’ve been doing this for a while though, I have found that I am happier when I take a more casual approach. I still feel like I need to cover all of the planned material each week, but we are a little more flexible during the day and don’t always stick exactly to the timetable.
One thing that really confuses me is how much wasted time there must be at elementary schools for most students. I have some kids who can work really fast, and others who like to go along at a snail’s pace. For those faster children, what do they do at school? What supplemental work is given to them, and is it just busy work? It seems to me that when you divide what each child needs to learn during a particular school year into 9 months, there is TONS of empty time. I’ve found that if I just cover what I need to each day, I can be done in a few hours, so why are our children sent to school for the whole day?
I have really enjoyed having so much more free time than I thought, the slower kids have a chance to catch up, the faster kids can work on things that they’re interested in, or other subjects that they struggle in. We all have more time for field trips, library trips, chores, games, and even writing blogs!
So as far as academics go, I think I have it covered. Although I have one who is still a grade behind in a couple of things, I’m pretty sure I can get him caught up and overall my kids will be fine.
My decision to home school however wasn’t based solely on academics. I felt like my children weren’t always acting like the angels I thought they should be, and they needed more teaching and guiding at home. I often feel that if my children are rude and mean and disrespectful, then that has to be my fault right? I must have created that in them, so I have the responsibility to try to fix it! No one else can love them and guide them as well as I can (or at least try to).
This is where is gets hard. Michael and I are trying our very best to teach our children correct principles and to be good examples for them, but the bottom line is, everyone has their own agency and is free to choose how they act. I can’t force my kids (and I shouldn’t anyway) to behave in a certain way, and although they understand right and wrong, it seems like they choose wrong so much more! Is this just the challenge of parenting? I know they’re just little kids and I expect so much from them. I need to be more accepting of their behavior, but I often feel like I can see them in the future, I can see how their actions and choices now will affect who they are as teenagers. I am so scared for the teenage years! Do all parents go through these feelings of immense responsibility and inadequacy?
I need to develop more love, patience and compassion as I teach my kids. My example as I interact with them will be the best teaching I can ever give them. What a lot of pressure! I don’t want to have regrets in my life, so as long as I know I’m trying my best, I guess it doesn’t matter as much how my kids turn out or what choices they make. I certainly hope they’ll be good people who love, care, and serve others, but that will be up to them. They will grow up into different people who can go any direction in life. Giving them a good foundation is what I am trying to work on. My task is to ignore feelings of doubt or inadequacy, and to focus on trying each day to be better than the day before and being satisfied with my own efforts. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. It is a very difficult and very rewarding experience that is helping me to grow as a person.
(Here are a couple of photos and information that some of you have asked about…)
Some notes about home schooling:
Mary and Emma are so great at learning and playing together. They are such smart kids.
After we learned about the ancient Greeks and did some activities on deciphering Greek letters and other codes, Daniel is obsessed, and keep leaving me love notes in Greek on my bed. How awesome is that?
My kids LOVE doing science experiments, and they love music too. I am terrible at being motivated enough to do art with them. It is such a shame. I have tons of supplies and plans, but when it comes down to it, I am too lazy to get everything out. It’s only twice a week and I’ve got to force myself to do better…
I feel much closer to my children than I did when they were in school all day. Sure, they drive me crazy sometimes, but I love being able to spend so much time with them. If and when we decide to send them back to school, it is going to be a really hard transition for me.
Some of you have asked about my schedule:
6-7 am Michael is in charge (Kids get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and hair, make their beds, say their prayers and do their chores)
7-7.30am Family Devotional (Prayer, Song, Scripture Study)
7.30-8am Circle Time (Prayer, National Anthems, Calendar, Letter of the Day, Letters Songs, Story, Comprehension card)
8-8.30am Boys do math, Hannah teaches the little girls preschool
8.30-9am Hannah does math, boys finish up math or play preschool games with little girls
9.30-10am Literature (class reading)
10-10.30am Writing assignment
11-11.30am Scripture study
12-2pm Mary and Emma nap
12.30-1pm Quiet reading
1.30-2pm Make up time/math on computer
3.30-4pm Homework/Make up/Grading