The proud wife of a loving husband of 16 years and mom of 2 beautiful kids. Together we are on a journey of lifelong learning. After spending many afternoons and evenings through the course of 6 years, learning and reteaching concepts to our eldest and having to face the reality of how 6 months of school has broken our youngest’s spirit, the decision was easy. We will homeschool at last! But when you realise this is not just an alternative and that we were called as parents to do as God sees fit, a different kind of peace fill your soul. We are still developing our own way, but each day is a day in the right direction, and when I feel discouraged I know my strength lies in Jesus.
I hope that The Learning Journey will be a place where other homeschooling parents can find encouragement in their journey.
“My life is hectic, crazy, busy…” I think that is one of the most overused phrases these days. Everywhere we go, we hear someone utter those words, and yes even I have used it multiple times over the last couple of months.
To be honest, one of the reasons we decided to homeschool directly relates to the crazy life formal schooling added to an already jam-packed day. From rising before the rooster, packing lunch boxes, getting breakfast ready to cramming a day’s work into a few hours so that I can rush to an afternoon hockey or cricket match an hour away, just to hurry back home because the kids still have to do homework or study. I have to prepare dinner, everyone has to eat dinner, pack their bags for the next day, get to bed by 8 oçlock and then mom can put another couple of hours work in, spend a few minutes with dad, go to bed after midnight… wow, I am exhausted just by writing all of that! And then the same old routine continues every single day!
So, how is homeschooling life any different? For starters, our kids do not have to get up at the crack of dawn any longer to catch a bus to school an hour away! I don’t have to plan what to put in their lunch boxes either – our children do not like a “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” lunchbox, well for that matter neither do they like the same breakfast, lunch or dinner on a specific day of the week. Weekends weren’t any different and we would either be next to a sportsfield or helping the kids with school projects, with very little time to spend as a family.
We no longer rush to get homework or studying done and have a little one who cries because there was no time to play. No more kids with anxiety, and parents that worry about the safety of our children while traveling to school. These are small and trivial reasons but make a world of difference to our sanity.
Everyone was exhausted, we could not wait for the December summer holidays, and spending at least 4 weeks not thinking or speaking about school.
We wanted time to stand still, smell the roses, slowly sip on good coffee, breathe each wave in as we stare across the blue of the Atlantic ocean. Jnr wanted to be a knight when he was 7, (which young boy doesn’t want to be one?) now he can do fencing as a sport. Our little maker only wanted to play and craft but never had time, she now spends endless hours dreaming up new ideas, creating colourful clay creatures from stories and has a dream to have her own vlog by her 10th birthday.
Our lives might still be busy even hectic at times, but we spend it mostly together. I have decided to take a different route career-wise and has to put more hours in at this stage to get the business started, but I do this from home and has set times when I don’t work. Learning takes place all the time, but the kids still call their morning hours “school time,” the time when we dig deeper into the core subjects. We read more, discuss more, play more and create more! We garden together, the boys have time to go for a drive in the beautiful countryside that surrounds our village, and the girls have time to craft to their heart’s content!
Next time I will share how we started our morning routine when we decided to homeschool and how it has changed since then.
Have a beautiful crazy-hectic-busy day, filled with fun and laughter!
“Where do I start? How do I decide what subjects or courses each child should take? How do I plan our day? Should we follow a formal curriculum? Can I as a parent provide the right education my child needs?”
These are only some of the questions all new homeschoolers, and even some that have been homeschooling awhile ask through the course of this learning journey!
I have indeed asked them probably hundreds of times – to myself at least, maybe not to another parent. I admit I am not very good at following the “norm” or advice given nor am I at asking for help! I am a researcher, planner, creator, type A personality who can not wait for answers but rather work extra hours to find exactly what I was looking for and making it work for us, or creating my own to suit my children’s needs.
This is quite the predicament because it is a time-consuming task by itself to research various curriculum and for a perfectionist to put a course of study together, it could mean that you end up spending so much time on the planning, that you never get around teaching it!
So how do the overcome a homeschooling disaster? By planning? Through buying an expensive curriculum that may or may not suit your child’s learning style? Wait! I don’t even know my child’s learning style!
Does this sound familiar? I know there might be a mountain of information you haven’t worked through, questions you can’t find answers for no matter where you turn to. Do yourself a favour and close your eyes, just for a moment and take a deep breath!
Before you run to the nearest academic bookshop or curriculum supplier or even hit search on Google, you will have to sit down as a family and start your planning by formulating the vision for your family’s learning journey. You already have plenty of reasons why you will or are homeschooling. They might be motivated by financial, educational, or religious concerns, but what truly makes the home learning journey a satisfying one, is when your vision involves the character of your children. I have heard many parents complain about their child’s nature, whether they are attending school or are homeschooled. Homeschooling your children will not suddenly bring forth a positive, respectful child. In any circumstance, it is the parent who must teach these principles to their young.
As a God-loving Christian family, we have a set of attributes we hold firm whether our kids attended school or not. You must remember though, homeschooling does not guarantee you will have a child who is motivated, confident, God-loving/fearing and accountable. No! But it does provide you with the chance to do as God has intended, and that is to teach them diligently. It gives you the much needed time that plays a vital role in leading your children to God, to live closer to the wonder of God’s creation – nature. More time to discover, explore and fall in love with learning. Education is not a 12-year plan with an end goal, it is, in fact, one of a few goals we seek to attain along this path of learning. Education is more than teaching according to a well-planned curriculum.
Your vision for your homeschool learning journey should be the first piece of planning you start with. To kick off the writing of your family’s vision for your homeschool, use your main reasons and formulate them from most important to the least important. Listen to the ideas your children share regarding how they feel towards their new learning path. This vision can be your saving grace on days when it feels like everything is falling apart and when you doubt your decision to homeschool. Next week we will start to touch on the actual planning of your homeschool year.
Remember to keep calm, and never fear! Now call everyone in your home together and have an open discussion about why homeschooling is the learning path that was chosen. Ask your children what they hope to achieve or learn through this new route, get out of the boxed mindset of formal schooling, and you will be amazed by the joy this time of discovering new learning connections will bring.
Who said school should be boring? Well, not in our home!
We enjoy learning and have fun doing it! Yes, we do bookwork, but we take time to turn many learning exercises into an opportunity to do something fun, creative and out of the ordinary. Whether it is a science experiment, creating a history timeline or learning math facts, there is always time for (Fun)schooling in our home!
As visual, kinesthetic learners my children comprehend so much better when they are actively involved in creating an “evidence of learning project” or ELP as we like to call it. At the end of a term, semester or year they can use these projects as a review before written or oral tests or exams. In the resource section, you will be able to find some useful help to incorporate into an ELP which will make planning such a project easier. Maps, lapbooks, interactive notebooks, notebooking pages, colouring pages, crafts and more are all incorporated into an ELP.
Having fun outside of our homeschool most of the times involves some learning taking place, although not apparent, even to the kids – they are still learning! When mom gets the chance to capture these moments, she will share some as well!
We will share some of our creations, art projects, kitchen fun, field trips and fun projects we found or did ourselves.
Enjoy a glimpse into our (Fun)schooling moments and be inspired to create more of those in your learning journey!