Home Schooling As A Way Of Life



I started home schooling when my oldest daughter was four years old. She is now over thirty years old, and we are currently educating five kids who still live at home. It seems that after a lot of trial and error, some times of burnout, lots of wondering if I had what it takes, doubting my abilities, placing my kids in and out of public schools and many applications of new ideas and schedules, we have learned to be flexible and to embrace change in the process.

If you are just starting out on your own home school journey, take a deep breath and one step. JUST one step. Hind sight is 20/20 so let me share from my own experiences in hopes that I may help you enjoy your journey more than I did in the beginning. By one step, I mean...one step at a time. Don't try to be supermom. Just be their mom. That is all. Prayerfully ask God to give you a plan that works well with your wiring and follow it. Don't compare yourself to other moms and how they do things. The way they do it may not work for you and that's okay.

1. School revolves around the home, not the other way around.....so.....don't model your home after the public school system. Just trust me on this. It doesn't work. It will create burnout very fast.....unless you don't have a house to clean, or food to prepare, or diapers to change, or children to take care of, or groceries to buy, or errands to run, or laundry to do....and you can focus your entire day on JUST academics. The first year I added teaching academics into my already crazy day full of little ones,  I actually dedicated an entire room to a class room and had my kids sit at desks. It was complete with a teacher's desk, chalk board, book shelves, etc. I think there was probably even a bright red apple on the teacher's desk. I'm pretty sure that was the day I went bald as a result of stress induced pulling out my hair by the roots. And....I'm also pretty sure I went through an entire box of tissue attempting to absorb all the tears I caused myself.

2. Keep it simple and fun! Most kids begin school at the tender age of five or six years old and at that young age, they are full of wiggles, full of chatter, full of wonder at the world and ripe for learning. However, it's very easy to destroy their love for learning if we try to box them in with too much structure. When children are in the early elementary age group, pretty much everything they do is educational. It may not look like it, but it is. I am passionate about creating as natural of a learning environment as possible during the early years because it helps to develop a love for learning that the kids will carry with them throughout life. Our goal as parents is to instill this love so strongly in them, that they will own responsibility for their own educations early on and drive themselves towards their goals while we simply facilitate and provide the means by which they do so.  You can read more about this subject here and here.
 
 Playing is educational. They are learning social skills, using their imaginations, large and small motor skills, language skills, and often play will involve exercise, as well. These are just a few of the benefits of play time for children. They need to be provided with plenty of opportunity to play and explore.



 
3. Have fun with your kids. Start out slowly by adding in just a little bit of academics here and there during your day. Make it special. Enjoy them. Maybe at first, while they are very young your academic part of the day will include teaching them how to recognize the letter A and the number one and maybe the color red. Read a book out loud to them. Maybe purchase the DVD "The Letter Factory" My kids were totally enthralled with it and it gave them a great platform for beginning reading. You can view it here. Get outside with them and explore. Observe them to learn what their natural interests are and ask them questions about things as a springboard for great conversations and opportunities to research things together. Take them to the library and check out some books. Find out when the library has a story time they can participate in. Sing with them. Bake and cook with them. Let them learn how to do jobs in the kitchen with you. Plan an outing to a children's museum, or a zoo or aquarium. Science centers are great field trips for kids. I took our kids to the farm where they got to milk goats, feed calves and learn all about farm life. We raised chickens, still raise Golden Retrievers and the kids have helped out with each litter of puppies and our kittens. We have done gardening with them, making it a family project and the excitement at reaping the harvest is always so fun! Just keep it simple and remember they are always learning and you can relax and enjoy the simplicity of the early academic days with them.



Music lessons are an important part of early education in our home. Our oldest daughter still living at home, is in her eighth year of piano lessons and is student teaching this year. Piano is one of the best instruments a young child can learn because it increases coordination skills, and thought processes which help with focus and concentration amongst other benefits. We like our kids to be accountable to teachers outside our home for certain subjects, as well.  This is a very informative article on the subject of piano lessons, specifically.
This article explains in detail, the multi-tasking that occurs while playing piano, and some of the life long benefits piano provides for kids.
 
Our daughter teaches both class lessons and private lessons. Periodically her own teacher observes her as she teaches, and provides pointers and positive critique to help her improve as a teacher. They play games with the students that allow them to move around, and learn important musical concepts from a "hands on" perspective.
 
 


 
Playing the "High, Middle, Low" game.

 
Playing games such as chess or checkers can be a relaxing and fun way to develop strategic thinking skills
 

Baking and cooking involves math, (measuring, fractions, counting etc.) creativity, carrying out directions, service, and the responsibility of cleaning up after the meal or treat is made.




Enjoying the fresh air while getting some exercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy as a family.
 


 
 

 



4. Pray....a lot. Stay plugged into the Word of God which says: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

5. Be flexible. Don't get stuck in a rut. Sometimes change is necessary and it is also very refreshing.

6. Get involved with other families who home school and especially seasoned moms you can glean from without having to learn everything the hard way. I am happy to answer any questions you have. If I don't have an answer for you, I am connected with a whole community of home schooling moms and I'm sure I can connect you with someone who can direct you. :)





At the local Children's Museum

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When our kids were younger, we had a simple structure that outlined each day. Much of the time within that structure involved hands on, natural learning, and some of it included basic skills such as reading, writing, and simple math concepts. If I had it to do over, the one thing I would change, would be the way I viewed math. With our two youngest kids, math is now something we do every single day. My older kids did math regularly, but not daily. Hind sight has taught me the importance of not skimping on math. A solid foundation needs to be laid in the early years, and new concepts must be added on a consistent basis. Our older kids struggled more with math because they were lacking in the early years. It's more difficult for them to make up for lost time in this subject when they are older. They are doing fine, but they had to work harder at catching up because I wasn't disciplined in this area when they were younger. Even math concepts can be taught in a fun way. Our younger boys say math is their favorite subject because it's fun!. Math-U-See and The Life of Fred, are both great ways to incorporate math into each day with some fun techniques.
 
Give them plenty of love, time together learning about God, with simple family devotions and discussions, prayer with and for them, provide plenty of life skills and experiences, social opportunities, time spent reading, and exploring ideas and topics they are interested in. These are all key to sparking a life long love for learning in children.


Other great resources include : The Busy Mom,  Simple Nourishing Home,


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