It’s only been 4 months, but already public school seems like a fading memory. I can’t even express how much of a blessing homeschooling has been for our family so far. The journey itself has not been perfect, but the fit for our family sure has been! Gone are the days of morning battles getting out the door, and gone are the constant complaints about having to sit down all day and not being able to play outside. No longer does the whole family live in fear of emotional meltdowns at the slightest mishap.
Instead, our days are filled with freedom, flexibility, fun…and a whole lot of learning, of course. Here’s why:
We Learn WHEN We Want to Learn.
Believe it or not, our “formal schooling” time takes approximately 1 hour (which we do while Baby Zu sleeps.) That includes a short lesson in each of the following – math, phonics, spelling, and reading (mostly me reading to him, and a little bit of vice versa.) Additionally, we also have some family read aloud time most mornings after breakfast. Teaching in a one on one format just doesn’t take that long! The rest of our day is filled with learning from “real life” – errands, playdates, outdoor adventures, arts and crafts, gardening, neighborhood walks, etc. Since there’s really very little that we actually “have” to do on a daily basis, spontaneous opportunities for fun and adventure are always welcome. For example, Monday mornings after a weekend climbing trip can always start off slow. Spelling words can be done in the car, so that we have more time to play in the afternoon. In fact, just about any of our lessons can be taken “on the road,” which makes leaving town for weekend adventures a piece of cake. And, since our plan is to school year round, taking off random days (or weeks) here and there is not a problem.
We Learn HOW We Want to Learn.
Learning doesn’t have to take place only within the confines of a desk in a room. We can do our novel study snuggled together in a hammock in the front yard. When it’s Big C’s turn to read aloud to me, he can do so lying upside down on the couch. Our ocean unit culminated in a trip to the grandparent’s beach house, where we experienced the ecology of tidal pools better than any textbook ever could have explained. We are currently studying pond life as our science, which means we have an aquarium of tadpoles and frog spawn in our kitchen, gathered on a morning nature walk.
We Learn WHAT We Want To Learn.
Big C is a certified shark expert. He has devoured just about every shark book in our local library in a matter of weeks. We’ve bounced around with units on outer space, volcanoes, tornadoes, oceans, butterflies, birds, snakes, etc. Whatever he is interested in, I take it and run with it. The result is a kid who is so enthusiastic about learning, my former teacher’s heart is about to burst. Additionally, I can add in subjects that our family feels are important that he wouldn’t normally get in public school (ie, Bible.)
We Learn Why We Learn.
Don’t underestimate the power of this one. The homeschooling format leaves so much more room for “real life.” Pretty much every subject we do has an obvious “why this is important” application to it. We count money and play “store” together with our toy cash register…then do the real thing when we go buy groceries. Thank you notes and get well cards to family and friends gives handwriting practice a purpose. And the slower pace of our day allows for so many more in depth conversations about “why” (which, if your child is anything like mine, is a subject they rarely grow weary of!)
We All Learn Together.
This one has been the biggest shock for me. Not because I think I’m super smart and have nothing more to learn in life. I’d just (wrongly) assumed that the bulk of information I relayed to him would be information that I already knew. But while I did in fact know how to read, write, and do math prior to homeschooling…I had no idea that weird bug on my echinacea plants was a soldier beetle. And I had never seen a blue grosbeak until we got really consistent with our feeders during a bird study. And you know what else? While it might sound crazy, I think my mental math skills have even improved!
I’m not the only one benefiting from our new learning lifestyle – Baby Zu is thrilled to have big brother at home! She soaks up what we do like a sponge…sometimes. Other times, she soaks herself at the water table while we read about frogs. But regardless, both kids enjoy being together more often than not, and I’m optimistic that these early years together will lay a foundation for good sibling relationships in the future.
My previous life (aka before kids) was as a classroom teacher and I loved it. The pay sucked, the hours were long, and the job was often thankless when measured in tangible things…but watching that “light bulb” go on in a little person’s head was so rewarding! Now, as a parent teaching my children at home, those intangible rewards are exponentially higher. Because this is MY kid. No one loves him like I do. No one knows him better than I do. And no one else is more proud of him when he succeeds. Indeed, homeschooling is not for everyone. But at 4 months and counting, it is most certainly for us!