Recently someone asked me what advice I would have for someone starting out in homeschooling with wee ones. It was fun to look back over the 10 years I’ve homeschooled…a mix of blessings, laughs, hard lessons, trials and a few tears. I don’t know that I would change much
even the mountains had their purpose.
The first thing I would say to women thinking of homeschooling is this:
Remember that God has equipped you to teach to the hearts of your children.
That means you have what it takes. Always. In ALL ways….with His strength! It does not mean that you will always do it perfectly.
One thing I would have changed is when we started school. Each child is different and I think it’s really important to remember that when you begin your journey. So for Booker, he was ready to start school at 4. Being our eldest child, I had a lot of one on one time with him and he has a hunger for learning. Definitely left brained, all the way. Monkey is my inquisitive, detail oriented, hands-on, right brainer and I would NOT have started him in kindergarten, or any kind of structured learning, until at least age 7. I believe he would have had less on his plate, had I waited, and therefore would have been more prepared to dig into some awesome activity based learning. Songbird, being the baby – pretty much sat in the classroom while I schooled the boys so she already knew how to count, knew Oh Canada, knew colors and so much more by the age of 3 or so. She started kindergarten at 4.
This is key, in my opinion, and should seriously be considered!
After such a serious consideration – a few main thoughts follow:
For the first 6 grades, do what you want.
I did a LOT of activity, literature (read aloud) based things for my kids for the first 6 years. Sonlight had a tremendous influence on my teaching during these years. This is where we all grew as a family and came to love books and stories and storytelling! I am a firm believer that if you want your children to become readers, thinkers – you should read aloud to them from a very early age! I registered, did not enroll. This gave me the freedom to teach what I wanted, how I wanted and to give my kids a passion for learning. This foundation is so important. Most of those years I wrote my own curriculum or used bits and pieces of other curriculums to create something personal for our family (this was mainly for Socials and Science – I kept with a main math book throughout) and I did things in units. So one year we studied Africa – which was SO much fun. At that time I believe I had grades 1, 6 and 8. So each child had major projects that were grade appropriate. This was probably my favorite year. If you can study ONE thing, with all grades, it makes life so much easier. I did not worry about learning outcomes in these earlier grades.
Start moving towards independence.
Once the children began moving towards grade 7, I was beginning to give them more responsibility and independence…because my goal was that by grade 9, they should be almost entirely independent. For grade 7 I began using programs that had DVD’s of teaching lectures, this gave them more independence and gave me more time to work with younger children. I also began to consider learning outcomes, though I did not follow them to the letter. As you get to the older graders, they all build off of one another and it’s important to at least be moving in that direction – especially if you intend to graduate (in Canada) with the Dogwood.
It is important to have friends that can be a support to you for those times when you just want to eat your children or send them to school or worse! Or maybe it’s just me that goes through stages like that 🙂 It’s good to be able to call on one another for those little reminders and glimmers of hope when you need them.
I write things down!!!!!
I know, some say I’m weird…well, maybe more than some. I have a journal that I keep for school – someday I will give it to my kids. I write our major successes in it. I write things that make me cry with joy – those special moments, or things that we did that I want to remember forever (like dissecting the muskrat with our niece who is NOT homeschooled). I write when they do something exceptional. I write how proud I am when they write that perfect paragraph! I write about things that work, and things that don’t work. I also write in those moments when I’m crying out to God for wisdom and strength…when I’m spent. Tired. Done. I write out my prayers. I think those moments are just as important as the mountain top moments! It reminds me that I’ve been through some valleys but I always come out of them…it makes the victories a little more joyful!
Learn to let go of your pride, press into Him!
All too often when Moms call me in tears, it’s because they are worrying about what others think of what they are doing – or not doing; they are being WAY too hard on themselves; and/or they are looking at what others are doing, comparing themselves and trying to do it all, falling short of these huge, and often unrealistic expectations they place on themselves.
I think it’s important to homeschool the way you want and not the way someone else tells you to.
No one loves your kids as much as you do.
They are their own little (and not so little) persons and
that individuality should be taught to, embraced and nurtured!
These are just a few thoughts, from my heart to yours…