It is so hard to believe that I have been a homeschool mom for almost a full school year. We started in July 08, really got going in August, and have been doing it ever since. The more I have done, the more hooked on it I have become. And I have learned soooooo very much this year!
In reflection, I have read countless books and articles about homeschooling to help me make the right choices. Through that, I learned that the choices are as various as the families themselves. I spent months experimenting with different methods of schooling--computer lessons vs. bookwork, coloring vs. hands-on art, reading vs. experiencing, and so on. I learned that everything has its usefulness, and, when the children have the right heart-attitude, they can learn so much from any method. Watching JR and M learn from the lessons we did together was priceless. I loved seeing his face light up when he finished reading a new book or wrote a new letter, or seeing M get excited and yell "I did it!" when she succeeded at something new. Those are special moments that I would have missed entirely had they been in a pre-school. What began as an experimental journey for 1 year, may be turning into a "school-career" decision.
Now that we are hooked, I have spent the last week or so planning next year. I read another book called "Managers of Their Schools," also written by Teri Maxwell, a homeschool SAHM of 8. The book was filled with tips and information that really helped me mentally prepare for this overwhelming task. She broke the planning into steps. Best of all, unlike other books I have read, she showed how to incorporate your beliefs into your school planning. For example, I love having S act as the "principal" of our school. Because successful homeschooling is a family decision rather than a mommy decision, I love getting S's input and direction whenever possible. However, since I am the one who does the research, makes the purchases, attends the curriculum displays, and actually does the teaching, this can often be difficult. In this book, Teri explains how to do this, even providing forms you can fill out, give to your husband to pray about for a while, and then arrange a time to come together and make the final decisions. She also discussed in detail many of the Christian curriculum choices available, as well as some of the Biblical aspects (or lack thereof) of different homeschooling methods.
We have decided to take a more traditional schooling approach next year. This year was a fun experiment, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to use it as such, but it also showed me some of my very weak areas. We will be incorporating textbooks and seat work next year. When I have used books with JR and M, they truly thrive. It doesn't just bore them, as many claim, rather, they learn life principles such as structure (specific lessons on specific days), self-control (sitting still), and even decision making and the resulting consequence (pay attention, finish the lesson, and go play, or sit here for an hour). There were also several opportunities where I was required to focus on training JR's character rather than just providing a school lesson. While not always an enjoyable thing to do, it is something I have learned to value as one of the most important parts of being a Christian parent trying to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Not only is their character something that will help determine success later in life, but something that could affect them for all eternity. I can't think of any God-given responsibility, more important than training our children's characters. And what a blessing it can be!
2 years ago