Friday, January 6, 2012

Homeschooling check up...& you deserve a prize

I get the question "how's homeschooling going?" a lot since we started 'officially' homeschooling Ava this year. Its a hard and complex question to answer. I'm sure I could write a novel. It would probably be a boring rambling novel, but a novel none the less. Still, I usually answer, "oh, good". But I have been meaning to write down some of my thoughts. So here it goes. It might be a little messy, since its messy in my head and I have no clear order on how this post is going to go.

1. Its hard.Kind of. But totally. In a good and bad way. The whole curriculum and school part is not necessarily hard. I really enjoy it myself. I could sit down at the table and do it myself and love it! So why is it hard:
                A. Ava loves it the majority of the time, but she did have some growing pains in the beginning getting use to doing a little more school work than she did before. And it wasn't coloring rainbows in the correct order or matching shapes anymore because educationally she is way beyond that, but her smarts don't exactly meet up with her maturity level, so finding the right balance between her actually learning and her maturity level took a little bit of time because this stuff, this schedule was new to her...and to me!
               B. There were points of burn out, but they were also the points I found myself growing the most when I stopped to evaluate the situation. If I'm not in the Bible, prayer, etc, if I don't have some time to myself during the week, and sometime in fellowship (especially women's Bible study), I burn out. Homeschooling or not. Moving to a new place made these things a little harder, but they are getting easier and better. Thank God! (literally!) I have learned more about myself(... than I've ever wanted to. : ) ok maybe a little overstated.) Maybe the biggest burn out point is expecting too much of Ava and myself. I can think I've failed if I didn't check everything off or if I did not schedule my day at all how I feel I should schedule it. Or my attitude goes south. GRACE.
              C.  I'm still learning this one.... I'm trying to find the right rhythm to our day and that takes grace, time, discipline, and prayer. phew. Asa is the biggest factor because I want him to be apart of it. He loves being apart of schoolwork and having his own age appropriate activities to do. This part that was really hard is also becoming one of the best parts.

wow. well I guess I messed up my numbering system because that covered all the tough stuff. So I guess I'll move on too number 2...the good stuff. I did always choose to save the best news for last.

2. It's good. On so many levels. So what have I loved about this year...Just today I realized I would have not seen Ava until 3:00pm everyday since August. That it a good majority of our day. CRAZY. So first off, I love getting to see her, spend time with her, hear her thoughts and concerns. There is so much our family wouldn't get to experience together if Ava was at school most the day. So what do I love about it. Sheesh. a lot.:
           A. Relationships. Some could and do argue that homeschooling does not give children an opportunity to socialize with peers. I have to admit that there are times when I almost feel guilty that Ava it not socializing with friends her age more often. (yes, we are involved in a homeschooling group, church, American Heritage Girls, etc.) Then I see her sitting next to her brother as they laugh and talk together while doing schoolwork or drawing a billion pictures a day. She talks to him so clearly and plainly and lovingly. I think I might just say she has a natural teaching gift. And whats more, I would have never guessed they would be so close. I heard a lady speaking on homeschooling recently (I have to share the link sometime!) talking about everything on organizing, training, to socializing. She commented that our society puts a lot of emphasis on peer socialization and while its not a bad thing in the least, there are more important areas of socialization. The chances are slim that our children will be only socializing with their 'peers' after they graduate in the real world, but what was more powerful was when she ask who would you call if you found out your mom had cancer. It probably won't be your friend in 4th grade who you sat next to you in math class. While a classroom usually mimics real life, home is real life and learning to deal with and love brothers and sisters is a real as it gets. Seeing the two of them interaction is one of the best parts of my day. If Ava goes somewhere without him, he constantly asks, "where's Aya?" looking forlornly. I also don't know if Asa would have learned so much without her around. His "Why" stage is in FULL swing. And believe me, he wants a good explanation to every "why" asked.
         B. Curriculum. Ok, so I was very hesitant to homeschool because I hate text books with a passion. serious PASSION. seriously. My sisters talk about how they love the smell of old text books. I'm sure they would wear text book cologne if I could find some. The smell makes me nauseous.  I look in a text book and I feel dizzy. I'm so visual, but text books look messy and ugly, I have a serious text book phobia or something. Ava is only in kindergarten so why should I worry about this. I had a gripping fear that if I started it, then I couldn't get out of homeschooling for the rest of my life and what if she is crazy smart and flies through texts books so I'm looking at texts books all day. I could start having nightmares of creepy textbook monsters chasing me or something.  If I could only show you the pictures in my head. Its a little ridiculous. Sorry for the incomplete sentences and bad grammar. You will be happy to know that I did not write Ava's curriculum and I don't have to smell or see ugly texts books because her AMAZING curriculum is nearly text book free. I know, I know, if you haven't heard of Sonlight its hard to believe there is a curriculum that can cover everything and be text book free. And I know this post just keeps getting longer and longer. Adam is next to me snoring and I can write a lot, late at night, so you might want to give up  reading the rest of this now. On the other hand if you have gotten this far you are probably in too deep and now there's not looking back. Anyways, her curriculum is filled with "Living" real books people LIKE to read. We started off with the Boxcar Children for her read-aloud and she was hooked. It was magical or something. One of my favorite memories will probably be reading the Boxcar Children to her. She almost cried and didn't want me to read the last chapter because it meant it would be over! SO SWEET! But I reassured her that there is a WHOLE series. The curriculum not only ROCKS when it comes to creating a love of learning, but she has learned a boat load and it is so flexible that it can be simple enough for a child just starting or challenging enough for a child more advanced. Science is definitely (and not surprisingly) Ava's subject, but history is a very, very close second. Plus, its all scheduled our and really easy to follow.
           C. Worldview. Its really hard to teach a 5 year old a worldview if she was in school. Not to say its impossible, but it would be a lot harder. Back to the curriculum I do love that Sonlight does not shield her from the world, evils and all, but talks about a world that needs a Savior. Ava is very easily influenced when it comes to what's "cool". At 5 years old its a lot to have to sort out what's really cool or what's hurtful, what's truly meaning full in life, how should I act, etc. God made people in family for so many reasons, but ultimately to glorify Him and be apart of His forever family. Homeschooling gives us this amazing opportunity to teach her about God's worldview. We get to read and talk about the Bible, yes, but it seeps over into every subject and into our actions. I've learned that homeschooling might just shape me more than its shaping my children. It might just effect my worldview all the more. It really makes me prioritize our day, change our speech, and goals. An education is absolutely important, but loving God and showing others His love is even more important. I am ASTOUNDED at Ava's heart for God. I would not have known that she would comprehend so much at her age. She relates Bible stories to other Bibles stories and verse to everyday life. I feel honored to get to hear it. She bought a Bible for Asa for Christmas (same one she has and is very attached too). She teaches Ava the Bible stories from it. Love it.
          D. Crafts. Yep, it has its own bullet point so too speak.  I'm getting better at them. In the order of the list in my head, cleaning becomes before crafts. Last, uh, semester, we didn't do a whole lot of crafts, but we are changing that. Already it has brought so much more joy to our day. We take a lot longer...Ava is not one to be rushed!!!! hm, where does she get this from. Oh, wait. I don't like to be rushed!!! So when we do a craft, we get to work....and it takes a while. But its a craft that's related to our curriculum and not only gives us an opportunity to bond (slight pun), but learn more about the material and make it stick (ok, sorry). We've made a covered wagon and a teepee this week, but we still have a parachute to make as our science experiment tomorrow...oh, not to mention she is already making Valentines and a bizillion pictures (the norm...they are so cute! I am bias).
       E. Growth...mine, I mean. In the book Sacred Parenting, Gary Thomas quotes prize-winning novelist Rachel Cusk, "As a mother you learn what it is to be both martyr and devil. In motherhood I have experienced myself as both more virtuous and more terrible, and more implicated too in the world's virtue and terror, than I would from the anonymity of childlessness have thought possible." I'm not only learning head knowledge everyday from my kindergartner's curriculum, I'm learning the heart stuff. There are times thoughts have run through my head of sending my child to school because I feel like a failure. Usually this comes at a time of discipline or a character issue. Then I think, what in the world, you are going to send you child to school so they can teach her character and how to obey her parents so you can be selfish or not feel like a failure. ok. dumb thought. that won't help. I have to stop and evaluate my own heart. I need to start the day with a date with God and know that God entrusted two children to me. With His grace, mercy, and strength, its usually a beautiful day. And if it isn't...well, those are usually the days I learn most about myself. I am seriously grateful. I have also learned that we need to get out of the house, listen to worship music, interact with adults, read, and just stop to play with my kids...and go on a date once in a while!

Ok, pretty long I know. But one last thing. To say I have a supportive husband would be an understatement.  When I say supportive, it reminds me of someone standing on the sidelines cheering you on. Instead he's in the game with me. His heart for God is the drive, but his fun and loving personality are the the puns. I should go to bed. I really didn't mean to do that but then couldn't help but finish it off. No, seriously, I am so thankful to have him as my partner in crime.
   There is a good possibility I'm going to regret posting this in the morning and I do need to add pictures. Please don't edit my grammar and please note that I did not write Ava curriculum so there is hope that she will be a good speller. If you actually read all this, you deserve a prize!

Next time you see me you may not ask how homeschooling is going. That is unless I delete this rambling post in the morning.


  1. Wow Leah! I can't wait to start homeschooling either. This was beautifully written and I agree 1000% about your section on socialization. Keep up the great work my friend, our children will be better someday because of it!

  2. Thanks for sharing sweet friend!! It is encouraging to hear your journey with homeschooling. Wish so badly that we could do it side by side!! Miss you much! You are an amazing momma!