Monday, October 3, 2016

So what's the deal with homeschooling?

I was asked by a friend two very general, but in depth questions, which he asked me to reply via email. After I finished, I realized that it may answer some of the questions that others ask when they see me. So in case you, lovely reader, are one of these people or have asked one of these questions, then this post is for you:

What is the most positive (fruitful, growing etc.) in home schooling?

I love that homeschooling gives my children the ability to spend their days together. They practice living and loving with one another MORE than they take time for school work. 

I have seen my older children take initiative on helping/teaching the younger children. For example- my readers will read directions or entire books to the non-readers.

My children are great independent workers, but we also do a lot of reading aloud: history, English literature (in small bites), and religion.

I have been able to tailor the children's work to a level that best fits where they are. Therese's art skills are far beyond where John Paul's were at her same age, so she does more intricate art work than he. John Paul is a third grader, but has been on a 4th grade level for a while, and so we are able to move more quickly than he would be able to in a traditional school. 

I get to hold my children in my lap (which is being taken up by a large belly, so temporarily, they sit NEXT to me) to teach them to read. I have two children who I am teaching to read, and that is the posture they prefer for their lessons. 

My babies are exposed to whatever my school children are doing, so they like to "do school" in whatever for they feel: play-dough at the table, drawing, cheerios to count and sort, etc.

David plays an active role in their education as well- he reads to them, and if he is home, he will do a lot of teaching. He also helps to finish up what I have not finished once he comes home (which sounds like what parents have to do ANYWAY when their children come home from traditional school).

Our "after school" sports and activities are a nice chance to get out of the house rather than the insanity of running all over Tarnation from one place to another, and we don't have to race home to do the homework/supper/bath/bedtime routine.

There is so much support out there, whether through the sheer number of homeschooling families where you live (like here on the Northshore of LA), or online... like so many free printables!

And most importantly- we all stay in our rooms until 7:30 in the morning, and we don't have to get up early to deal with lunches, uniforms, speedy morning routines, etc.

And of equal importance- we are able to make Mass more often during the week.

What is the biggest problem, difficulties, limits in home schooling?

Having more babies than school-aged children is the most difficult hurdle. They know when I get into teacher mode, and they don't really like it. It isn't always enough to simply hold Mary Clare, but her intelligence tells her that I should be interacting with her too! So she expects her time with mommy/teacher as well and asks for school work!

I am usually too tired to pick up leftover school work at the morning, and I have set up our day so that the entire house 1) goes to sleep 2) reads quietly on the couch, and I use usually use this time to do my personal prayer and scripture reading. But the more pregnant I become the more tired I am at this time of day. So I feel like a failure most days that I don't get to prayer or finish up school like I wish and simply end up falling asleep. Sigh...

Another difficulty is that it can be a bit draining to have all 5 (and soon 6) children at home with me all day long... every day. It may be more difficult if it hadn't always been this way, but we've never had the kids in mother's day out or childcare, so I've never known life with little breaks here and there. It makes me really have to trust in the Lord to provide such opportunities. We are blessed that David's flexible schedule allows for him to be home if there are doctor's appointments that I need to take of, though, so the Lord always provides.

The biggest difficulty is the recognition that this is a life-long task- the rearing and education of our children (even if we put some in traditional school at some point, the task remains the same). The temptation to despair and get discouraged can creep in often, especially if it is a particularly difficult school year, and I look to be successful at homeschooling rather than faithful, as God calls me to be. 

Most people's first response to hearing that we homeschool is "Oh, I could never do what you do." And to those women I say, "If I can do it, ANYONE CAN DO IT!" and I also think inwardly, "I could never do what YOU do. Getting up before 6 just to get everyone else out the house on time is a thought that makes me throw up in my moth a little bit, so POWER TO 'YA"

We have only been doing this for five years now, and I can PROMISE you that when we get to middle school math, I will punt to David... or to anyone who doesn't get sweaty thinking about teaching division with carrying. 

My children are also VERY aware that their mother is a short-tempered, crazy human being (which was hard for me at first, growing up with a mom who was able to juggle a full time job, home-life, spiritual life, marriage, and a career change thrown in their somewhere with what looked like harmonious ease (and she may be reading this and laughing at it's inaccuracy, but now you know, Mom), and so I was so disappointed in myself when my kids began to see me... um... not doing the juggling so well. Some days it's more like tripping on the juggling balls and face planting into someone's diaper that they took off when I wasn't looking. 

Homeschooling requires a grace that can be given to us to be able to do it, and all I have to do is ask!!  HE HAS PROVIDED! He will continue to do so! 

And now for some good 'ole fashioned poking fun...