Homeschooling...then and now

To understand the now, we must look back at the then.

What does homeschooling look like in our family? Not surprisingly it is probably different than everyone else's day. The curriculum choices may be different...our family dynamics are probably different...our homes are equipped differently...our children's abilities, interests and personalities are different...our schedules, I am sure are different...our methods are different. What a beautifully unique picture every homeschooling family can portray ~ each one reflective of who they are, their experiences, beliefs and spiritual gifts, skills and talents.

Why do we homeschool? Well, I must say we were not Christians when we began homeschooling. We were parents to only one child way back then and simply desired to do what we believed was best for him. It was heartbreaking when the time came to send our son to kindergarten...I put on a good front for his sake, but inside I was little boy, going away from home for most of the day five days a week. Hard.

He was reading when he entered kindergarten, knew his numbers and colors and other things that some kids were just learning. We thought maybe first grade would be different, so another year later, more of the same. It seemed like a repeat of kindergarten. The teacher needed to teach to the norm...the students that excelled were bored (Zach, which manifested in being talkative because he finished his work quickly) and the students that struggled had to fight to keep up...God bless teachers and all they are trying to accomplish (a whole other topic). A hard place for a classroom of over 20 students. We strongly pushed for testing for the gifted program...but that could not happen until third grade. Oh my, I thought...two more years. So, as a way of them working with us, Zach was able to go over (with a small group of 4-5 other students) to the second grade class during reading time.

Well, that may have helped a little with the reading issue, but it did not solve other the negative influence of behavior and habits that he would come home sharing. What were we to do? Well, because we were not Christians, homeschooling was not something we had ever heard of...until his first season of soccer. His coach was a home school dad...and a Christian. He had our family over (he and his wife) and shared with us about homeschooling and the Christian homeschool support group they led. We were thrilled to learn of another option for teaching our son...but the Christian homeschool group ~ not for us. (If we only knew how the Lord was leading us back then.)

Wanting to seek counsel from those we valued opinions from, we went to his teacher and to the teacher he worked under for the "school's post office"...we spoke with our parents (both my husband's and mine) and of course, we spoke with Zach (funny, looking back now). Zach was excited, we were excited, our family was non-supportive (we were not "qualified" to teach) and the teachers said he was a social child who "needed" the socialization...what does socialization have to do with academics? Besides, a public school setting in a classroom of 20-30 other same-aged peers is not a very well rounded setting. He would need to get along with people of all ages in the "real world", we thought. Furthermore, who loved our child and desired more for our child than his own parents? (Remember, these were OUR reasons and may not reflect yours or other homeschoolers or non-homeschoolers.)

So, against the grain, we withdrew Zach and began our 'adventure' to homeschooling...loving it! That was over 14 years ago with Zach having graduated from 'home learning' in 2008 with some college already under his belt, graduating from the local college this past May with a 4.0 and his AA degree and now working on a dual major at another college these next two years, Lord willing, majoring in political science and economics.

When we started homeschooling, we only had Zach and Austin (who was by my side practically every moment until he was 5 ~ making teaching very easy). We took lots of field trips, read a lot together, played lots of learning games, I wrote his curriculum until 5th grade using the library and workbooks and hands-on activities set around themes...unit studies. When it was time for Austin to enter "school" (age 6 in our state) we had no other thought of how he would home. Now, five other children are part of our family dynamics...all of whom we plan to homeschool (3 of which are currently being homeschooled).

Each year our schedule changes to accommodate our growing family, learning styles, interests and needs in our family...all the while learning happens...academics, yes, but even more important things like character, ministering to others, real life opportunities. I love seeing the delight for learning that takes place when they find something that interests them and they can't learn enough...from history (Civil War, armed forces, the history of our country, Presidents, etc.) to musical instruments (guitar, keyboard, cello, recorder, lap harp) to more hands-on learning (cooking, archery, construction, gardening, etc.). We desire to provide a rich learning environment with opportunities to visit the places they learn about or do what they have read and find interest in.

The Youth Orchestra playing during the Youth Music Festival being directed by the gifted music director, Mr. May ~ we miss him...

A tour of the US Air Force Museum...
guided by a very knowledgeable OH...
Another visit to the Creation Museum in KY...
4-H Archery Camp...

We use a variety of curriculum to fit their learning styles and our family's needs. As they get older and have higher education needs we have the blessing to utilize various resources from video curriculum, online classes or even dual enrollment at the local state college (when and if it is right for that child). Co-operative learning and field trips and private instruction are rich supplements that enhance our children's learning.
Unlike then (14 years ago), the Lord has saved us and our further desire to teach our children truth is now an integral part of "why" they should learn anything. It is the desire to "do all to the glory of God".

Our typical day includes academics like mathematics (from 2nd grade through Algebra), reading (beginning readers to reading the classics), science (through experiments, various curriculums and observation), history (reading from original documents, biographies and other lessons), Bible (Scripture memorization and lessons from Bible curriculum), language arts (poetry, writing, grammar, spelling), geography, state history, thematic studies (like the US Constitution, biographical studies on people such as Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, presidents, missionaries, etc.) and so much more.

Our learning doesn't stop at just the academics though. There are real life skills being learned like cooking, budgeting and managing bank accounts, home managing skills and maintenance, caring for others (important character skills: learning to get along with others, to lend a helping hand, to show compassion and tenderness to the sick or hurt, etc.), responsibility and work ethic (through chores, doing odd jobs well and completely, going above and beyond what is expected, being dependable by keeping one's word, etc.).

Making lunch...

We continue to learn about history, science and geography when visiting different locations on our field trips (re-enactments, docent programs at museums, marine and science centers, state/national parks, etc.). We document this learning by creating books or scrapbooks and journaling about what has been learned.

A trip to Fort Matanzas where re-enactors
made history come alive

Read alouds are another special time of learning our younger children enjoy. Sometimes they will illustrate pictures of what I read, as I read. This is a great way to help with comprehension and retention. I have even scanned some of their illustrations in the past, then had them dictate (if they were too young to write) or write captions under their pictures and created a book which they bound.

We have enjoyed participating in and hosting various learning events including other families with us such as creating "family heritage albums" and manners/etiquette classes to lapbooking classes on different themes/people and oral presentation events.

A wonderful luncheon to complete the two day training in the
Young Lady in Me class...
A Victorian Scrapbook class we hosted to commemorate the
Young Lady in Me class the month earlier...
The scrapbooks that each girl created during our class...

The days as a homeschooling parent are full and the work is not easy...however, anything worthy is usually not easy. We have our times of tears (sometimes from frustration and other times for laughing so hard), our times of setbacks (maybe due to illness or ministering to sick family, neighbors or friends...but that's learning of another kind for us), our times of struggle (maybe a concept just doesn't click...guess what, we can slow down if we need to, look for "another way to teach" it that may make more sense or maybe wait until they are ready in their ability and understanding level instead of plowing through it) ~ but these situations are great opportunities for growth in other areas, be it character or relationships.

For us, being able to teach, direct and provide opportunities for our children to learn and to grow not only in knowledge, but Lord willing, truth is an abundant blessing and I believe, a high calling. One for which I am thankful to have the right to do in this country...for us, learning is living ~ the two are intertwined and the foundation is truth and our hope is in the grace found there.

Because of Him and for His glory ~

Linked to


Lands Family Led by the Lord said...

LOOKING BACK... Seeing Jesus being consistent to lead and guide this family.. A beautiful testimony of the faithfulness of God.. Surely Our Lord knows the past, present, and future. Your love never fails.
Thanks for sharing,
In Him

Samantha said...

I may need to steal "Clean Sweep" !! That used to be a show on TLC, and I loved it!! Messes sure do get made easy around here too! Thanks for visiting.

Samantha said...

OOH, and we are charter members of the Creation Museum, and are going back again tomorrow. :)

Bethany from Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom said...

I enjoyed reading about your homeschooling journey. Everyone's is different.

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. Just in case I forgot to mention it in my post, most days do NOT go the way they are planned!

Blessings this school year.