Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Homeschooling

I hesitate to write much about homeschooling on this blog, mostly because I am wary of making anyone feel that I have lofty opinions on what is a proper education for all children in all families, everywhere.  Thus, I don't write much about the specifics of our homeschool, or even how much we enjoy it, lest those who do not home educate feel left out, judged or misunderstood.  Our family decision to homeschool, or indeed any of the family decisions we make, are not intended on an indictment on the lives and callings of others- it is merely a way of life we feel called to live.

However, we have recently gone through a few big changes around here educationally, and I feel the need to write it out a bit - in way, to process it myself.  I've also received a few emails asking me about the outcome of our decision to use a Virtual Charter school.  This post has been in my queue for over a week as I make my way through my own tangle of thoughts on the subject.

We left the charter school.  At 8 AM last Monday, I penned a quick note thanking the school for working with us and assuring them that the quality of their program was not our purpose for withdrawing.  I clicked "send" on the email and felt a wave of something - peace? relief? - pass right over me.

This parenting gig is tough.  The decisions faced every single day, the constant re-evaluating - it all adds up to a full time job of seeking the right path for each individual child's path.  School is just another area where this weighing and wrestling, praying and preparing keeps this Mama up at night.

After working with the program for over a month, I felt it was not the right fit for us.  It was fine for the children, but for me it did not work well.  Sometimes I can sell myself short, but in homeschooling I need to look at a given curriculum or style not only as it affects my little ones, but how it affects me, as the teacher, as well.  Over the time we spent giving this new approach a try, I squirmed under the weight of it, all the while trying to convince myself that I just needed to get used to it -- then it would all work out.  I finally had to concede that, for me, the joy of homeschooling my children was gone.  This program was not right for me, and so it was not right for us.

One of my most beloved aspects of homeschooling has always been the use of living books to teach children important lessons in a variety of topics.  We would curl up with some excellent work of literature, read a few chapters, discuss characters, morals, history and social studies - all stemming from one book that everyone enjoyed.  I sorely missed this, as well as any mention of faith or moral fiber, in the curriculum we were using.  I also missed schooling several grades together in most subjects - something that both brought us together repeatedly during the day and cut down on the time spent on our more structured learning, leaving time for library trips, playtime outside, free reading.

Our first day homeschooling without the curriculum felt so light, so simple, so gentle and yet so rich.  It took us much less time, but felt like we learned much more.  There was math and spelling, history, bible and phonics.  There was literature chosen from my favorite guidebook, "Books Children Love."  There were discussions and compositions regarding the topics we covered.  There was a lot more laughing, plenty more smiles, and just a lighter overall feel to the morning - and yes, it only took 2.5 hours for the formal instruction of all 3 children.

The charter school was good.  I actually really enjoyed it for my oldest.  However for us, right now, with kids these ages - we've figured out what works for us.  It just took  a short time of trying something else to show us that what we were doing before was working out just fine.  During our time at the charter, I gained quite a bit of confidence - mostly in seeing just how much of what was being taught in the curriculum is already present in our daily lives.  Our one-tapestry approach of working, learning, relating and living together really does "teach," in an organic approach, a great many things.  Rather than being formally taught, it's caught.

This is the right fit for us, for right now.

Thank you for listening, friends, and letting me process all of this right out loud!

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  1. I've enjoyed reading about your journey this year. We've had a year of struggling through homeschool curriculum as well this year. I recently found out I'm expecting #4 and this alone with some other struggles helped us make the decision to try out the local school up the street. It's amazing the peace that comes over you when you know you're making the decision best for your family. We still fully support homeschooling and maybe we'll return to it at one point, but the joy was gone from our days of school in our home and this tired, sick mama needed one less "job" and my social little girl needed more outings than I could give her...so off to school she'll go. I'll miss her more than i can imagine, but I'm excited to see where this adventure takes her. Thanks for sharing your family's journey!

  2. Thanks for posting an update, I was wondering how it was working out as well. Thankful for His never failing guidance as we navigate this homeschool journey. Praying for your school year.

  3. I struggle so much in the planning to home-school or public school. My little guy is very social and being the oldest, I don't know if just his little brother and I will be enough day to day. There are some co-ops here however most are just one day a week and I don't think that will be quite enough.... We have a magnet school within walking distance from our house and so we are praying and hoping that, if we decide, that will be where he will go.

  4. Thank you for an honest post about homeschooling. I live what you said...if it isn't right for you it is right for all of you. Of course you have to live what you are roi g first so they will love it. This have given me inspiration!!

  5. good post. I don't homeschool my children. Thank you for your statement that you do not want your writing to 'leave out' those who don't homeschool. I really enjoy your writing and topics on home and family and have never felt any judgement in your writing about this topic. Just wanted to say thanks and keep writing! :)

  6. After having our twins, I decided to homeschool. I had already sent my oldest to a Montessori school and fell in love with how deeply she fell in love. I made a commitment to bring that feeling to our homeschooling. We'll be homeschooling a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old in the fall. I needed something that would work with the age differences. Montessori seemed to be the perfect answer...especially since I've got the twins coming up shortly as well. Have you looked into that style of curriculum? It allows for you to continue all that you value (and actually sounds as though you were following that with your old style anyway). A lot of the materials that make a Montessori classroom "Montessori" are totally hand-makeable. I've been using this year to put together necessary materials. You can buy classroom "help" in the shape of curriculum suggestions. My email is hemblue@hotmail.com. I've found a lot of resources that I'm keeping on hold for me to access for next year, and I'm happy to send them along if this sounds like a good option. This year has been a sort of trial run in Montessori pre-school (pre-el or schooling for ages 3-5). I needed to know if this was something I could do well for my kids before making the commitment. I love that you posted an update. I was wondering how it was working for your family. A friend had suggested it to me as an option and I was waiting for an update from you to see what your thoughts were. We're homeschooling because I'm not a huge supporter of "classic schooling" curriculum. This sounds like it wouldn't be a great option for us either.


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