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 crying...my 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 concerns...like 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 learn...at 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.
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.
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 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...