Sunday, February 20, 2011

Progress Report

It's hard to believe that we are half-way through our second year of homeschooling.  I thought I might share some of the things we've experienced so far, such as, what are the benefits? or, on the other hand, the disadvantages?

Homeschooling for me and the kids has become as natural as breathing.  It is simply a part of our daily rhythm.  In fact, it would feel unnatural for to wake up, rush out the door and send the kids away for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  Our mornings are typically peaceful - everyone has plenty of time to wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, clean up and get ready for school.  School time is enjoyable - yes, even for me!  We play math and phonics games, read books, do science experiments in the kitchen, draw, paint, read about world history, watch educational videos on our iPad, read stories, use Bible verses and famous quotes for handwriting practice, make up songs to help us memorize facts, etc., etc.  Not only is it fun, but my children are learning (and I've learned a lot, too!).  My daughter is learning to tell time, count money, add/subtract, measure, etc., and she is reading really well.  My son loves nothing more than to listen to me read a book about space or carnivorous plants - he has even taken an interest in his preschool workbooks and asks if he can 'do school'.  The best part is we are doing it together in a nurturing environment.

Another benefit is that I know what my children know and what they need to work on.  If my daughter is struggling with a subject, we spend more time on it.  If she 'gets it' quickly, we move on.  There is no question of how my child is doing in school, which is a great comfort to a parent.

A social benefit to homeschooling is that there is no one telling my child what is cool and what is not.  She likes what she likes and she is totally confident in her choice of what is 'cool'.  I love that about her.  As my children grow, I hope they will be proud to be who they are and will not base their opinions, likes and dislikes on what is popular.  

Flexibility is another benefit we enjoy.  We can vacation during off-seasons, avoid crowds by visiting zoos/museums during the week and not worry about missing school if someone is sick.  If family comes to visit from out of town, the kids are home during the day to enjoy them.  We decide when Christmas break begins and ends.  And we can school through the summer if we want.  If Daddy gets to come home early, then the kids get to enjoy him being there. 

The great thing is that since I'm the parent, teacher and the principle at my 'school', I'm able to make changes if something isn't working.  When we first started homeschooling last year, I began to feel a bit isolated from the world.  I only knew one other homeschooler and my daughter was in need of some playmates.  My solution: I joined a local homeschool association, a teaching co-op, and I put my daughter in Girl Scouts (and I'm now her troop leader).  Now my children get plenty of interaction with other children, in addition to being involved at our church and the YMCA.  Plus, they get to be taught by other moms once a week in our teaching co-op.  And now I don't feel like such a loner for choosing to homeschool.  

Another disadvantage can be burnout.  This is not unique to homeschoolers - every educator and student experiences burnout after some time.  What do I do about it?  My solution is to take a break from the norm and do something different: plan a field trip, take a nature walk, or take a break from the curriculum and spend a week working on a lapbook.

Some moms may see homeschooling as an overall disadvantage because they won't get a break from their kids.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard moms say that they "can't wait" for their kids to be in school.  I understand their feelings.  As a homeschooling mom, I'm often in need of a break, too (that was a serious understatement). However, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.  Our family is close and I believe one major reason for that is that we spend quality and quantity time together without being rushed to and from school, then to after-school activities, PTA meetings, etc. 

My children are happy, well-socialized, and learning a lot.  So far, it's been a good year.  In fact, I'd give it an 'A' :o)

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