Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Juuuuust right.

This morning we woke up slowly. Bryan had left hours before to go to work, and the house was quiet. Lilly was first to emerge from her room. She came strolling into my bedroom wearing pearls around her neck, one blue velvet Cinderella glove, sunglasses and a rain hat. She crawled into my bed, and amid all of the bedazzlings, I tried to coax her back to sleep. Grady was next to stumble into the room and join us. Soon enough there were three little bodies piled in my bed, and any hope of me returning to sleep turned into tickles and giggles, and "Mama, I'm hungry" and " let's go downstairs"...

I met my sweet friend in the driveway. I was wearing work out clothes, no makeup, hair in a pony tail and clinging tightly to my mug of coffee. And she was looking fabulous. She had come to watch us "do school" for the morning.

If you are even considering homeschooling, I would highly recommend you finding at least 1 person to observe. It's probably not like you might expect. When we started with Bella, we didn't know anyone else that was already doing it, and I remember feeling nervous and unsure, and just wishing I could get an idea of how this whole thing works.

If you are considering homeschooling, I'd love to offer a few helpful hints, from what we've learned over the past three years:

-Homeschool looks different for everyone. Even if you go watch five other parents teaching their children, you will still need to make it your own, and do what works best for your family. Whether your children sit at desks, or the kitchen table, or on a blanket under a tree (or all of the above) is up to you. How relaxed or formal it is, is your choice.

-How you schedule your lessons is up to you. We choose to school 4 (sometimes 3) days a week, with CC 1 day a week. We take off for vacations, or other important events, like family coming to town, etc... We have decided to continue through most of the summer (3-4 days a week) because we found that Bella had a hard time getting back into it after a nice long break. If you want to take a summer break, rock it.

-When you teach is also up to you. If mornings work better, great, if not, do it after lunch. Bella likes to do her reading before bed, so that's what she does.

-There are a million different kinds of curriculum out there. Ask around, go to a materials display, research your options, and find what works for your family. We use the A Beka Curriculum, although there are so many great choices available. Bryan and I both teach, so a very structured system works well for us. It's easy to pick up where the other left off, without being unsure of what was taught the day before.

-Get to know your kids, and teach to their specific interests. If your kid likes airplanes, spend a week learning about airplanes, and how they work, and how to spell words like aviation, propeller, fuselage, hangar, parachute and elevator and what all of those things do. Google airplane games or arts & crafts to include in your week.

-Lastly, find some other parents that are in your similar stage of life. Being part of a community of people that are sharing similar experiences is vital. Mom's groups, churches, homeschool adjuncts (like CC, or Circle Christian), parks during school time, etc... are all great places to start finding other homeschooling parents. You will benefit from having someone to discuss your struggles with and to rejoice over all the milestones with. I can not tell you how many times a month I talk to other mamas about what they are doing at home, or about fun ideas they might have for ways to teach things, or even just to say "how's school going for you?".

So we sat down at the kitchen table while Bella started on some seatwork. Lilly sat in her chair and painted with water colors, and Grady played quietly on the floor until it was his turn. School moved quickly, with a short snack in the middle. The grown-ups talked over coffee and music, and the kids and I shared a glimpse of our school day in action, in all of it's (not-so-fancy) glory. And I love it this way. It's us. It's the way this family of mine runs. We are a bunch of real-life regular people, that savor make-up less, ponytailed, yoga panted cups of coffee with friends, and we move slowly through the morning teaching and learning as we go. It's not fancy, or perfect, or glamorous in any way. In fact, it's often noisy, and messy, and slightly chaotic, but it's ours, and that makes it juuuust right.

These pictures are from this past week, and somehow I'm just now getting around to them. While Bella's dancing, I usually take Grady and Lilly for a little walk. This week I had a stick wielding boy (seriously, what is it about boys and sticks? Why does everything have to turn into a sword?!), and a sweet little puppy dog that just wanted to crawl around on the ground...


Happy Wednesday to ya, and enjoy whatever is juuuust right for you and your family!

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