Homeschooling isn’t supposed to be boring. Homeschooling is freedom. It can bring you joy and can be quite fun.How do we make our homeschool more relaxed and enjoyable? When we began several years ago I was as strict as could be. I set up a mini school “station” in our front room with a giant bean bag (seriously it took up half the room) for reading. I had a desk and Big Bird had one and I decorated the room with all the charts and manipulatives that came in A Beka’s complete kindergarten program. Each day I went through the teacher manuals and gave BB the scripted lessons word-for-word. Sometimes I would spend hours the night before trying to memorize the lesson and songs so I could talk to him without those manuals. It got old real quick. Within 6 months we had swung the pendulum to the other side and were strictly using KONOS. It was great. My kid was reading, learning about science using real hands-on activities, and school was fun. We could have done more with it had he been older, but what we did use was really fun. The only problem with KONOS was that it was not organized enough. I later learned that Jessica Hulcy (the creator of KONOS) wrote the curriculum in the 80’s when homeschoolers didn’t have all the choices they do today. Everyone was using the textbook-workbook method and it was school at home, not homeschooling. She meant for her curriculum to balance out the textbooks. She did not mean for her curriculum to stand completely alone. (resource, Things We Wish We’d Known, pp.10-12)
These days we have found a groove, although it constantly changes as my three boys grow. Each homeschooling family is organically different with unique needs, but if you want to become more relaxed, here’s what I’ve learned about making the transition. I think it works best to move gradually from what you are presently doing toward the model you have seen or envision. Sit and plan with your family and lay out the goals and the changes coming their way. Most kids like to feel included in the process and others don’t really care. Either way, it’s good to let them be a part of the process and get their input. It shows respect they never would get in school or anywhere else. These days children are still seen as second class citizens who can only understand simple concepts and books. Simply not true. Include them in thier education. My oldest is at the age where he decides what he would like to use for Spelling, Grammar, Writing, and Math. He is looking forward to My Father’s World Exploring Countries and Cultures next year, but if he was not excited at all, we would talk about what would get him excited.
It took a lot of time and trial and error to get to a relaxed atmosphere. Everytime I read or heard another mom explain that the children need to be at the kitchen table by 7 am to begin studies I would panic a little in my Spirit and think that I was not doing enough. But, my kids like to do their math at night. It’s enjoyable for them. They hate doing math in the afternoon when the sun is shining at them beckoning them to come out and play. When my oldest comes and gets the laptop to do his teaching textbooks after dinner he’s actually excited to do it and get it knocked out. Now that he does it at night (we only started night-time-math this year) he does 2 lesson a day instead of dreadfully doing one. He stays up late building things and testing them to see if they work. His room is half the basement and also where I keep all my art and science supplies. He’s like a mad man down there. So, to ask him to wake up at 6:30 so he could do school would not work for us. The early risers might scoff at this. I did once.
The Lord talks about rising early and seeking Him and that works for me. My son is not ready for that yet. And I’m not going to force it on him and make him hate spending time with the Lord. So I let him follow his late night, late morning schedule and he’s super smart and super well-rounded for it. Don’t let another dictate what’s proper for your homeschooling family. Even if it’s not the norm. Even if it’s school-at-home, because that actually does work for a small percentage of the homeschool population.
This is just what I’ve learned and not by any means written in stone. But I have grown in my role as homeschool mom and I learn so much from those I have helped or mentored, as it’s helped me learn more about myself. I try to remember that I am still a young pup compared to the moms who have graduates, but this is my 5th, about to be 6th year homeschooling and I love to share what I’ve learned. My credentials other than homeschooling are not much, but I am proud of the accomplishments our family had made. I include my boys in my successes because I could not do anything without them. What are my credentials, as there is no college for homeschooling degrees? Well, I am a book worm and have read everything available written by and about Charlotte Mason, I am schooled in the ways of the Montessori, and am a supporter of The Well Trained Mind and visit the boards often to get and give advice. Last year I became a certified educational consultant, through EDC Services and that makes me qualified to help and counsel teachers and librarians in reading and elementary books. I have written articles and even had one published recently! My favorite authors, who I have relied on heavily, other than the ones mentioned, are Ruth Beechick, Karen Andreola, Debbie Strayer, and all the writers for Homeschooling Today, Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Home Education Magazine, Home School Digest.
Here is a picture of my least sick child holding said magazines. (I forgot Home School Digest and added it afterwards, that’s why it’s separate.) All my children have fevers, sore throats, and head aches today. So as I sit with them I may write more. I get bored when they are sickies.
Have a good day guys, greetings from the land of germy little boys!