Thursday, August 29, 2013

Well, I am averaging writing on this blog once a year. Not bad!

I just realized, we are beginning our twenty-seventh year of homeschooling. My, how our homeschool style has evolved! In the beginning, we had a chalkboard and little desks. I was very organized, and we followed a very stringent curriculum. I soon found that this didn't really work, especially as our family grew. Simply finding pencils wasted a good chunk of time before we would ever get started for the day. I would feel so discouraged that the kids were going to turn out to be illiterate bums. It was my son's unquenchable desire to learn math (so much so that he secretly taught himself facts beyond what the curriculum contained because I kept telling him he wasn't ready for those concepts), that made me first realize that curriculum is but a tool. Follow it too rigidly, and you actually squelch the desire for learning.

The funny thing about homeschool curriculum is that it repeats every year. In first grade and second grade, kids spend the year learning the basic math facts. When they begin third grade, they will pretty much review everything they learned in first and second grade. And so on. What takes them a year to learn in first grade, takes them a week to learn in fifth grade, unless a child has bonafide learning disabilities. You could literally wait until fifth or sixth grade to really begin a formal education, and have them caught up by the end of the year. So don't stress. Let your kids play and enjoy their childhood...

Homeschools are not classrooms. They are a place where learning is always happening. It isn't restricted to the desk. It can happen in Mom's or Dad's lap while reading books together. It can happen with a child lying on the floor in his room so he can work on that math workbook he found that mom doesn't know about. Learning happens when the kids help with grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc., all the while developing real life skills that will make them responsible, independent adults.

I'm not writing this to make anyone who sends their kids to school feel bad. You are doing what you feel is best for your kids. That is what being a parent is all about. I am not trying to discount the hard, self-sacrificing work of school teachers. You are indeed angels who are very much appreciated by me!!! Instead, I am addressing the parents who are perhaps discouraged in their homeschooling efforts. Perhaps you are one of those who has fallen behind grade level wise and you are wondering if you should just give up and put the kids on the next bus. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. It has taken me these twenty-six years of homeschooling to finally realize that it's completely okay to ditch the schedule to take a meal to a friend in need, or to go clean an elderly person's home! Serving the community with your kids gives them opportunities to learn things much more important and necessary than academics.

People always ask me or the kids about what grade they are in. I always say the grade level they would be in if they were in school, but they are never in the grade they are supposed to be in. They are "behind" in some subjects, but they are not uneducated. I am confident that this will be a year of new beginnings, and that many exciting homeschool adventures await!

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