Our homeschool year begins on Monday. We "school" August-April since May is a lovely month in the south; whereas, by August we're so tired of the heat that we hole up indoors. Now I actually believe that real, valuable learning happens all the time - regardless of whether we have a book open. Still, I've been crossing my t's and dotting my i's getting ready for the official homeschool year with it's routines and new materials. I'm reaaaaady. And boy are they!!!
It's hard to know how to talk about homeschool here because there are so many aspects: why, how, when, curriculum, etc. I don't know where to begin, so I decided to start with Jodi's question from that personal things post this April: "I'm dying to know what your days look like as a crafty person/business
woman/mum/ 'teacher'. All my homeschooling friends say it's too big to
school and work from home but I really want to make it work. And I think
it will be an important part of my kids' experience."
This is something I totally worried about in the beginning. I have been working 2-3 days a week since having children so my work has always been a part of our life together. Fortunately, I work "from home" and we are incredibly blessed to have family to watch the children. Right now the kids enjoy one day with each set of grandparents per week, granting me 2 work days. That's perfect for us! I enjoy the break from parenting, value the relationships they're forming with grandparents and they're thrilled to get away from home.
Because, yes, otherwise we're at home. I believe home is were it's at, at least in the younger years! At home we do some book work, they take part in weekly chores, explore art and make up endless creative games together. I believe that homemaking is incredibly valuable and important. Now I don't love cooking or cleaning or gardening, but it's the stuff that makes life. Plus, I have to sew. Like all the time. So, it's great to be home! (Saves money too that I pretty much never go shopping).
I've found it absolutely SO EASY to fit our schoolwork into 3 "days". Granted, we've only done the younger grades, so it may get more challenging, but maybe not. I actually think it will continue to work! This coming year Aria is in 2nd grade and Liam in Kindergarten. Our school morning goes from 8 to noon. During the rest of the days we do laundry, cleaning or playdate depending on the day. It's super common for homeschoolers to finish school by noon. Without the distractions of a traditional schoolroom and one-on-one attention, kids learn fast. Plus, I can easily see what she gets and what she doesn't. If she gets it, we can just move on. No need to repeat, repeat, repeat.
Every year I adapt, planning things a little different as needs change and my experience grows. This year we are continuing with a block system. We do Bible and language arts every day, but our main lesson alternates between math and history/science on a monthly basis. Studying something like math in a month-long block helps the school year move along with interest and also allows me to see what she's really grasped/maintained over time. As of first grade, they also have music once per week. Aria's been learning the pennywhistle from my husband, who is a musician. He teaches her at night because "school" can happen any time. There is some "school" that happens on the 2 days they're not with me too.
Grandma taught an herb unit during Aria's Kindergarten year. They're
always gardening and cooking with my mom. And you should hear what they learn about history/politics from my Dad. Just ask Aria.
What about socialization? Oh, that's a great perk of homeschooling - I get to choose who they socialize with! During these formative years I love surrounding them with friends who teach them social skills that don't make me wince!!! The kids they're learning to love are good kids with conscientious parents. Hey, and they're my friends too, so win-win. We've always had a weekly playdate, usually at my house. The kids also see diverse peers at other weekly events. I believe it's primarily my job to teach my kids desirable social skills. Being near at hand puts me "in the game" to have a strong influence.
What about extra-curriculars like sports or dance or music or something? 1. I believe in under-scheduling my kids. Too many commitments is not healthy at a young age (studies show) and it's good for kids to have time to be "bored". Creativity happens there! 2. There's tons to do at home. We have a farm, people. They have a tree house, woods, giant sand box. Ok, I kind of feel like I'm bragging now, but truth be told Brandon and I have really prioritized our earthy home environment. It's not fancy, but it's very connected to life. 3. They get to choose one extra-curricular starting at 4 years old, like dance or gymnastics. This year Aria chose a 2-day a week homeschool program for her "extra" and it'll be on the days I work. Liam is doing a Swim & Gym program at the local YMCA. Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds so that many programs now cater to homeschoolers with daytime scheduling (no dinner-time dance class!) and cheaper rates. It's pretty awesome.
So, this is my life! Homeschool in the mornings 3-days a week. House chores and friends in the afternoons. I actually have more time to sew in the summer since there's no structured school, hence my craft show productivity! On my "work days" I do mainly computer work for Stitched in Color, with a bit of sewing in the afternoon. Otherwise, I sew in the bits and pieces of any day, after the kids go to bed at 7:30 pm and on the weekends! When do I blog? At rest time! That's the golden hour after lunch when the kids have quiet play time in their room (or Aria tells looong, elaborate stories to herself. If only you could hear!). Everyone benefits from a little rest. The kids don't have access to TV, so this is there daily down time.
Ok, rest time is just about over, so I've got to run again! I haven't sewn enough lately and I'm craving it! If you have any questions about our homeschooling, be sure to add them. Even the really big questions... those might be good for another post someday.
Thanks for listening!