As the air gets a bit crisper in the morning, I find myself remembering how I felt when it was time to go back to school. As a child, I hated school and I especially hated to see summer end. There went my freedom! We grew up on a ranch and had so much freedom and fun. I remember feeling nervous and scared. Are the kids going to like me? What is the teacher going to be like? Stuff like that.
I am so glad my children don't have to experience any of that. There are so many things I enjoy about homeschooling. My children know who their teacher is! My children don't have to go out and buy hundreds of dollars worth of school clothes and supplies. They don't have to worry if they are going to "fit in" with their class. Shoot, I don't have to worry about it, as a mother! We aren't rushing around dropping kids off early in the morning. I can make my kids a good hot breakfast in the morning and not feel rushed. I love how flexible and relaxing it has been for our family.
Now, if you do send your kids to public school, I am NOT condemning you! I'm saying that right now and upfront. Homeschooling is NOT for everyone. You can't homeschool because you are mad at last year's teacher. Anger will not get you through the tough homeschooling days to come. Homeschooling has to be something that God has purposely laid on your heart for your family. It is a PERSONAL conviction. I will be the last person to tell you that you HAVE to homeschool. If your heart isn't in it, it won't work.
I've switched our school up a bit this summer. I've given up on phonics for my older ones (almost 10 and 9). We are going to be reading more and just do plain old writing in their journals. I will gently guide them when it comes to language use. Spelling is always helpful when it comes to phonics. Forget expensive "spelling curriculum". I let them pick their own spelling words. They come up with "camp, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, WWII, Civil War, Revolutionary War" lists that are much harder words than I would have come up with. Ever since I started letting them create their own lists, they have never complained up about spelling! We do not get a new list until they get 100% on their test. For every misspelled word, they write it out three times. For us, this is the only way to go!
I've given up on some of the "worksheet" type of curriculums. My children are so much more interested in real life. For example, I sat and labored with Josh over "guide words". After the fifth day of what it felt like beating my head against the wall. I stopped and thought to myself, "Why am I doing this?". These work sheets meant nothing to him. He needed it to be relevant to his life. Now when I need to look something up in the dictionary or use a phone book, I call him over and we look it up together. He is totally getting it now!
Math is the one area that I feel the most inadequate to teach. I do rely on worksheets, but once I know they know the material, I don't make them do busy work. I think that is silly. I am learning math concepts with them and am actually enjoying math for the first time in my life.
Science, geography and history is like breathing in our house. I am not good at doing lots of experiments, so I got a really easy kid science book. We try to do something hands on everyday. We are learning some mapping skills right now. I rely on National Geographic videos and Magic School Bus for science. They have learned so much more that way. I am slowly starting to squeeze in a little written curriculum that helps reinforce what they have learned.
The little ones get to watch Leap Frog videos while I am instructing the older ones. They are really helping Andrew with his letters. Jacob likes Blues Clues and is learning his letters that way as well. Josh gets really frustrated when kids are yelling and screaming while he is trying to do his work. I always try to put him in another room, but he is such a social thing, he doesn't want to be away from his family.
So that's about it in a nutshell. Joshua is behind, Marcus is ahead, and Jessica is right where she is supposed to be. I am so much more relaxed about all of this than I used to be. I used to worry if I was doing enough. I have realized that I have many years to teach them all the things they need to know. So much of the stuff in school is taught and then retaught in later grades. Yes, there will be gaps in their education (heck, there were gaps in mine), but they will not suffer for it. They can always take a collage class if they are missing something when they are older.
Whew! That was a long one for me. I hope it was helpful. Relax, enjoy your kids! Homeschooling should not be stressful. The most stressful part of homeschooling for me now, is dealing with attitudes. But even that is getting better. As soon as I sense complaining or a bad attitude they immediately go to their room for a break. They do not come out until they have confessed and have changed their heart. It is working!