Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Homeschooling

Most people are now familiar with the term of homeschooling, and if you asked the average person what it meant they would likely respond that it was doing what others do at school - at home. 
 
Well, yes, but mostly no.
 
You probably have pictured in your mind the type of school setting you experienced as a child.  That's how I thought it would be when we first began our homeschooling journey 23 years ago. 
 
While I do have a school room, it does not have little individual desks lined up in neat rows, or perfect cursive handwriting strips bordering the walls, or detailed posters hung about the room showing the English parts of speech, or animal habitats, or the human muscular system. 
 
I guess you could say that our whole home is the classroom and the hub is the humble kitchen table.
I am so very thankful for that.  Even though I am up at an early hour, I am a slow roller in the morning.  I am so glad that we do not have the mad morning rush of scrambling out the door to catch a school bus.  I guarantee you that my children are thankful for that too.
 
Even though I can enjoy my cup of coffee and a more leisurely pace while schooling, Eric and I take our responsibility seriously.  We teach the core academic subjects ~ reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, science, and music...
but wait, there's more!
 
When you are with your children all the time you can see their strengths and weaknesses: what subjects come easy for them, which ones they struggle with, and the character issues that come out of that.
 
For example, maybe one is a math whiz.  Great! 
He can either be proud and boastful, maybe even lording it over his siblings for whom math doesn't come easily, or he can be humble and offer help to a sibling who struggles suggesting a tip or even just an encouraging word.
 
It doesn't stop with the student.  I, as a parent, can be proud with a haughty attitude of, "yeah, he's great and it's all because of me and my teaching" ,or I can be humble and give the credit to the One who gifted that child in that area. 
 
All the while, everybody in the home gets to witness these attitudes and responses -  so the teaching/learning is never ending in the home.   Now that is a humbling thought!
 
Because I am the teacher working with my kids, I have the opportunity to observe which subjects we need to camp on a little longer for mastery, and which ones need a faster pace because they learned the concept quickly.  It is such a blessing to be able to custom design a course of study that will best address the needs and interests of each of my children.   
 
Homeschooling naturally offers built in breaks.  Throughout the day loads of laundry need to be transferred from washer to dryer, clean dishes need to be unloaded from the dishwasher, trash needs to be taken out.  Perfect jobs for kids.  Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that people learn better by studying for 20 minutes followed by a  5 minute break?   That works out nicely!
 
So I've been planning for next year.
My planning starts with a chart like this where I can brainstorm.
What subjects do we need to cover?  What curriculum do I already own to meet the need?


What is working? What isn't? What changes need to be made?  What new things do we want to learn about?  What things should my children know, but don't yet? 
 
I've also been combing through catalogs that have been pouring in.
 
 
And I've been praying for wisdom. 
Wisdom, not knowledge {though it is a good thing if I know what I am teaching ;-) }
 
But wisdom to know the hearts of my children. 
"The plan in the heart of a man is like deep water; but a man of understanding draws it out."
Proverbs 20:5
 
How can I facilitate the molding of their character? 
What can we use to explain Biblical doctrines clearly to the young ones? 
Before all else I want my children to know the love of God.  The John 3:16 and John 15:13 kind of love.  Sacrificial love.  Unmerited love.  Unconditional love.  Enduring love.
The love of the Savior.
 
For us homeschooling is life learning.  Thankfully our answer key is the Bible.
This homeschooling business is not easy.  I am often weary and full of doubt.  My shortcomings stare at me squarely.  They humble me.  There are many days I feel so inadequate as a teacher and a mom.  I really mean it when I say I am so thankful that I have the Word of God to turn to for direction and comfort. 
 
My children are each other's best friend and I am so thankful for that too. 
So yes, while homeschooling is school at home, it is so much more. 
 

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