Saturday, January 17, 2009

Homeschooling: the 7yo & younger crowd

My oldest is 7. Then I have an almost 6yo, a 3yo and an almost 2yo. My new baby will be born in early March. We homeschool.

Sounds simple enough, yet.........

Sometimes I feel so pressured. I want to put a "good face" on homeschooling, I want other people to have a positive outlook on homeschooling and I wouldn't want them to look at our family and think, "well, if *that* is homeschooling, I would *NEVER* do that!". KWIM??

So I put this pressure on myself, I know. I realize that....well....people just aren't that interested! People do not sit around their homes wondering about OUR family, OUR schedule, OUR life. Come on, Lori....

Then there's the internet - GREAT for information, yet it can be another source of unnecessary pressure as well. Doesn't everyone seem to have it all together? The family that has "school time" regularly EVERY SINGLE DAY, same schedule, same curriculum......perfect.

That is *so* not me.

We are busy, yet much of our busyness is just day to day LIFE! If I get all four kids bathed & fed, work on some chores, do some laundry, get dinner together (or somewhat together) before my dh walks through the day - it has been a GREAT DAY!! If we fit in ONE lesson of phonics - WOW, we really had a great day! If my kiddos drew pics of whatever interests them (the other day, it was snakes for Selah - imagine that?!), asked me tons of questions that I hardly knew the answers to, then discussed their newfound "knowledge" with their siblings ~ I am one proud, happy, relieved momma. Whew....we did school today....

Yet every once in a while, I come across a site, a blog, of a momma further along this journey than I am. One such site is "Large Family Mothering". She has 14 children, and homeschools. I'm not saying she's perfect, nor that her children are perfect or that she has done everything perfectly throughout their schooling years. I'm just saying, well, she's been there, done that - and has probably learned quite a bit in the process.

Here are a few things she has to say about having lots of littles 7 year old and younger:

*Don't be afraid. You taught your child how to walk and talk, and reading isn't that complicated. Take the pressure off and you will do much better.

*A good book to have on hand that will teach you how to teach reading is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. My kids usually get tired of this book by lesson 50, but it lays a great foundation for more advanced reading.
(we are *slowly* working our way through these lessons and I have to say, I love it! My kids really like it thus far, as well)

*Don't have a schedule, follow a routine. Prioritize--what are the most important things that need to be accomplished? First, people need to be fed 3 squares a day. They need to be clean and rested. They need clean dishes and clothes. They need to be loved and listened to. Only after these basics are accomplished should anything else be added. It doesn't matter that Suzie Q. runs all over town and volunteers at church--you are not responsible for her. God has given you your family and that is all you have to do for now. The outward-focused life is for another season

*Read aloud daily, if at all possible. Even if it is the same book over and over. I think I have Green Eggs and Ham memorized almost completely.

*Answering questions is about the best thing you can do. You are the walking book that a child refers to whenever he is puzzled. Count it as a privilege!

*Use the necessary errands of life as learning experiences. Tell them stories about your childhood and God and sing together in the car. Teach them how to behave in public. Explain things to them as you are doing them so that they will feel included and important to you.

*Teach them how to tie, whistle, blow bubbles, hopscotch, ride a bike, fold a towel. These are both fun and inexpensive activities and help them to develop the fine motor skills necessary for all the other stuff.

She has many other good points about this time of "homeschooling" in a young momma's life. It does NOT look like public school, or formal schooling of any kind. If you are trying to FORCE it to look like that, you may be struggling. I know I have. I have probably done more "unschooling" in the past 7 years than I would have ever admitted to. Unschooling? Are you kidding me? Yet my kiddos are smart, and they are learning, and it rarely looks the same from day to day.

Yes, in the future our "school" may look more scheduled. Yes, we will have math every day, spelling words, history, subjects and all that. But for now, we have living. They are learning from life. They are picking up an INCREDIBLE amount of information, without me trying to cram in 7 subjects a day. I could never "do it all" and remain sane. I'm homeschooling FOR A REASON. If I'm trying to make it seem "just like school", then what's the point?

So go, read this woman's blog. If you are struggling with whether or not you are *doing* homeschooling correctly, go there right now!! Read what she has to say about early education. I'm not saying she's 100% correct on *everything*. I'm saying she has some good points. I'm saying homeschool will look different in your family than in my family.

Ugh...why do we push ourselves so hard, push our kids so hard??

One last quote from this blog (emphasis mine):
If you just live and love your child, he will gain a much better education than he could ever receive during these years in some institutional setting or with some formal curriculum at home. It's not "parental perfection" but loving response that is key here.

~ahhh....I feel better just having typed all that.....I guess it's what I needed to do - thanks for listening~

1 comment:

Julie said...

Thanks for the link to this blog. Sounds like someone I will LOVE! I totally get what you are saying. The biggest relief to me lately has been cutting our schoolwork back to two days a week and then only doing the bare minimum. Math and reading/writing. It's been a life saver! :)