I grew up in a country home on four acres, the youngest of four homeschooled kids. I forever swore that I would never homeschool my own kids, for no particular reason, since I really did love homeschooling.
But, life is often not what you think it will be, and after completing a bachelor’s degree in Communications, with a journalism focus (which apparently explains why I’m so keen on writing…) I went back to school to become a teacher. The only fitting close to that story is that I now have my own four kids and we’ve been homeschooling for the past few years.
I love homeschooling. I love the freedom that it brings to my life, especially with a husband who works weekends. That’s how this whole business started in the first place. I refused to send my kindergarten student off to school Monday morning when it was Dad’s day off. So in some ways, you could argue we kind of fell into it, but I know that God had this plan in mind from the very beginning. He’s cool like that.
As it turns out, homeschooling is my outlet for creativity, it keeps my day focused and serves as my hobby. I get excited about the library, and books, and school supplies, and other cultures, and history, and seeing kids learn, retain, and apply information. I love that we eat lunch when we’re hungry, and that I can work around the schedule of toddler naps and the weather. You can probably hear me from my apartment occasionally shrieking, “It’s finally not raining, drop your pencil, stop punching your brother, we’re going outside now!”
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, though. Anything involving children, or adults, or human nature in general obviously never is. Please don’t let me paint that picture for you, I’ll splatter it with the fresh paint of truth and accuracy before you can blink.
Our homeschooling journey has been jam packed with strong wills and regular chaos, mostly because every time you sit down to get something done, somebody under the age of three fills their pants, or needs a snack, has swallowed a coin, or is playing with the electrical outlet again. And the broken pencil thing… why are they always all broken, five seconds before something needs to be written?
There are also the days that nobody wants to work, or mom’s sick and it actually doesn’t matter, and there’s also the fact that there are absolutely zero days of, “Let’s drop the big boys to school and we can take the little boys out for play dates and toddler type activities.” Instead, there’s a lot of, “Here’s some math manipulatives to play with, ok? Also some flashcards for you to chew the corners off? And if that doesn’t hold your attention, how about you just sit there with some baking soda and vinegar in the bathtub, ok great, so where were we with the climate of the Tundra Biome?”
But, like motherhood, each year we get better. This year we are doing grade 3 and Kindergarten, and I’m so pleased that we are figuring out our schedule, learning styles and interests more and more each day. It’s also delightful to watch how the younger two have learned simply by observation.
The other day my toddler ran up to the magnetic number chart on the dishwasher, pointed to the number 3 and shouted, “I’m 3!” I don’t ever remember purposefully showing him any numbers. “Oops,” said all the mothers of multiple children ever. It’s ok though, he’s apparently learning so much by watching his big brothers.
My 1-year-old holds a pencil better than the average 5-year-old, and he can often be seen carefully reading a chapter book in his toddler sized easy chair, or roaming the house with a calculator. It’s like this atmospheric cloud of learning just kind of floats around the house. It’s so much better than I could have known it would be when I signed on to homeschooling. It’s at home, and it’s also whole family, from the time the new kids are born.
I am often asked if we will homeschool all the way through, and I just don’t know. We go year by year, and right now we are learning well, meeting requirements well, getting good report cards from the homeschool teacher we report to, and continuing to find our rhythm. I’m so thankful that it’s working, because making lunches is not my strength. May I sincerely applaud all of you who do that with diligence and variety on a daily basis while I’m all over here like, “Sooooo, want some more toast?”