Friday, April 5, 2013

A Homeschool Review

It seems time to give a bit of a homeschool update. 
I have been wanting to get to this for weeks but you know, Life.

This week I looked through our curriculum and discovered we will be completely finished in six weeks. This was somewhat of a relief to me as I have not been a militant homeschooler . .. we school four days a week, and we have taken multiple breaks along the way including a ten-day vacation in Florida. Although we can get through some of the material very quickly and others take longer, I was pleased to find that we are right on schedule. And as we will be preparing for a very special wedding, there is a good chance we will double up to end our bookwork a week or so sooner.

This week I ordered books for the summer, writing workbooks and a nice stack of Greek and Roman myths. The learning will continue, always, and this has been an important thing for me to remember: learning happens all the time, sometimes especially apart from the formal bookwork. I don't think I will ever be an "unschooler", but I definitely get the concept and believe wholeheartedly in a lifestyle of learning.

After one year, I would say the number one benefit of home education is TIME.

My kids have time to learn in the way that they are most interested in learning. Playing outside, sitting at the table and drawing for hours, imaginative play- it's all learning. And because our schoolwork can be completed in half the time of a regular school day, there is plenty of time for the less formal, curiosity-led learning which I feel is equally if not more important.

Finding a likeminded homeschool community has been a HUGE blessing, for me and the kids. As a parent, I have plenty of questions and concerns related to homeschooling, and being able to talk about those things with other moms who have the same value system and approach to learning is SO so good. I think I would have had a much harder year had we not had this community. And the girls love their friends.

Honestly I have experienced so many blessings along this homeschool journey this year. Being a person prone to doubting myself with just about everything, I have had no doubts this year. We see Sami thriving, and this to me is reason enough that this is the best choice for us.

Although I am not especially concerned with why doctors and lawyers homeschool their kids, despite it's hoaky title this article is really good: 18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Kids. We have definitely experienced all of these.

We were able to do some extra classes too, piano and gymnastics, and this along with tons of field trips and things to do in Cleveland, church and meetings with our co-op, kept us just busy enough but not too busy. I love our rhythm.

Everything has it's negatives, of course. Here are some of mine:

1. My own flaws become magnified. 
One of my greatest parenting weaknesses (which is also sometimes a strength) is that I am very flexible a big fat pushover. My kids have learned that they can argue with me and change my mind. This means, that while I do want my kids to be able to voice their opinion, for a while every. darn. thing. was coming with an argument. This is exhausting. It is getting better.

Another flaw is that I am very flexible can't stick to a routine. This can be a good thing, as some days we just need to do things differently. However it is another area that invites arguments. I have been really trying to be more consistent and this, too, is improving. On the days when we are on a normal schedule and stick to it, we have really smooth successful homeschool.

2. Someone said to me once that she "has never met a homeschooler who didn't believe the world revolved around her." I think about this all of the time. I can see how easily a child at home can become very egocentric. However I would argue that there are plenty of egocentric public school students too, no?

3. Lack of competition can create a lack of motivation. 

4. mid-Feb to mid-March was hard. Every problem we have ever experienced became magnified. And we even had a vacation. I have heard this is to be expected. We need to find a way to better survive it next year.

I'm sure there are more but the day has begun and we are off to the art museum.

If you are in Cleveland be sure to check out the renovations at the Cleveland Museum of Art! It is really wonderful. And the Children's gallery, Gallery One, is fantastic.

Wishing you peace, friends!


Corinne said...

Hi Jess! Just want to ask quickly, what curriculum are you using? I've been kind of hodge podging this year together, and am thinking of something more organized next year... (I'm kind of a push over, having tough time with routine, sort as well... and maybe if one thing was set for me things would go better ;)) Love reading your thoughts on homeschooling. I also very much enjoyed that article with the 18 reasons. You are certainly lucky to have found your community! We've tried a few groups, but nothing has felt right.

Jessica Stock said...

HI Corinne! I am using the recommendations from The Well Trained Mind . .. Saxon Math, Writing with Ease, First Language Lessons, Story of the World, Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, etc. I have for the most part really liked it this year. I may find a different Reading program and add in another Grammer, but for the most part I think we will stick with the same next year. I do like having the text to rely on as I feel like it keeps me on track and is easy planning, but I sometimes wish I could follow a more Charlotte Mason/ individual approach. As I am gaining experience I'm finding more confidence to tailor the subjects.

I can see how finding the right "match" with a homeschol group could be very difficult, there are such extremes. I am thankful for how it worked out for us this year, it may not always be so easy I'm sure. I hope you can find the right match!