Thursday, August 28, 2014

So, When Do You Go Back To School?

Yesterday afternoon, we were checking out at Target and the cashier asked my son, "So, when do you go back to school?" He replied, "We are homeschooled. We never stop learning!" She looked at me and then at him and said, "Awwww. I'm sorry you don't get a break!" The more I thought about her comment, the more it bothered me. What do people that don't really know about homeschooling think about what we do all day? All year?

My kids have always been raised to be curious, to question, to explore, to learn through play. That means 24/7/365, not 8:45-2:45/M-F/180. This mindset that kids only learn during "school hours" is absurd. We don't live in a time where kids are out of school during the summer so they can work in the fields and help out around the farm, well most of us anyway. Kids can, and do, learn anywhere, even if you are not trying to "teach" them. They are observant and soak in knowledge from everywhere. Giving them the right tools is key.

Sure, most brick and mortar schools have gone back already. Some homeschoolers have started already--or never stopped. We will really dive into our curriculum for the year after Labor Day, but that doesn't mean we didn't learn yesterday or the day before. As a matter of fact, we had a fractions lesson right there in the middle of Target. The twinadoes were discussing the amount of clothes they have and how much space it took up in their closet. They broke it down into fractions and they were correct. They are 7. I didn't chain them to a desk to learn that. You know how we learned it? Playing a game called Pizza Fractions. A game they beg to play. Gasp, a learning game. See, my kids never do get a break!

So many myths and untruths are out there and when we started homeschooling I never realized just how much it would become a part of our daily life. It has been a learning experience for all of us. We have learned to accept people's comment with grace and kindness and try to educate them with information one bit at a time.

What is the most absurd thing that has been said to you about your choice to homeschool?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homeschooling = The Good, The Bad and The Busy

My husband and I came to the decision to homeschool after I investigated several preschools when our twins were turning 3. I had been at a Montessori preschool and remember calling him from the parking lot and saying, "I'm already doing this. Why should we pay someone else to do it?" He has been supportive from the get-go. Not everyone in our family has been. Some have come around after watching our children flourish and excel at a pace they never could in a brick and mortar school setting. As long as our children are happy and progressing, those negative opinions don't matter to us.

I enjoy doing the work to pull lessons together. I love watching the A-ha moments when they grasp a new concept for the first time. I enjoy the ease of  starting our day and a few extra minutes in the morning for everyone (cat included) to pile in my bed and have a quick cuddle. I love that said cat is a frequent student at the dining room table when we are doing lessons. (His favorite school tool is the abacus.)

We learn, hands-on, around the country and in our own backyard, any day or time of the year. We dare to "socialize" our homeschoolers by joining a co-op and participating in weekly activities at an open gym where they play with kids ages 0-18. One of my 6 year old sons' favorite people is an 18 year old boy from co-op and open gym that talks to him and answers his questions about Minecraft. He greets him with a hug every time he sees him. He lets my kid hang on him like he is a jungle gym, and when he had the flu last week my son added him to his special prayers list. A litany of friends, family, and extra sick people that he lists out loud each night.

Some days, I don't know where my energy come from: breakfast and some lessons, sweep the floor, dishes, clean the bathroom, followed by a class at the History Museum (don't forget to pack the lunch), following by swimming (oh, did we remember the gym bags?), and then home for dinner and the nightly reading of a Geronimo Stiliton book (usually by Dad and I crash on the bed for 20 minutes listening and thankful for the break.) After all that, I answer the emails for my photography business, prepare the next days lesson or perhaps research a bigger future lessons, work on the lesson for the class I teach at Co-Op, look at summer camps, and maybe get to talk to my husband about the days events (or not since we've been binge watching shows on Netflix this winter.) There is no 6-7 hour window when the kids are at school and I would be at work to pull my own thoughts together. To run an errand, I mean really RUN an errand without stopping to discuss how much things cost (good math lessons) or what food is better for you (health lesson). I'm not complaining because this is our choice. I just soldier on and try to feel like I've given the best I can. A friend, who is a psychologist, said that if you feel you have given your best 80% then the day was a success. That have saved my mind many times.

I am one of the lucky homeschool Moms that gets a break one day a week. Generally, my husband works from home on Friday's. I prepare a lesson for him to oversee and I get out of the house to do grocery shopping for us and my aging Mother-In-Law, edit pictures or work on contracts, and maybe get to lunch with a friend. I love that the kids get their father's perspective on our lessons. You just never know what he might say that might make something click for them that I am not bringing to the table.

Sure there are days that I feel overwhelmed, like I'm not teaching them what they need to know and then they do or say something so profound that I know we are on the right path and I'm raising some really cool human beings that are right where they need to be and we will be committed to this journey for as long as it works for all of us.

If you ever have any questions about the decision to homeschool or the whole process, please feel free to contact me.