We’ve been enjoying the wonders of nature this weekend as we have had a rather large snowstorm come through. Our family lives in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, to the east, and we don’t get too much precipitation of any kind. The mountains usually block a good portion of it. In order to get any significant accumulation, the storm has to come up from the South. Well, this time, it was a doozy! We were snowed in for several days. Thankfully, the power stayed on, and we maintained our heat. I am also pretty thankful that we had enough food to get by. Because we almost never get snow, I didn’t take the warnings too seriously. I didn’t rush out for bread and milk (or coffee or meats or veggies or other foods that would have been helpful to have on hand if I had known we would not be able to leave our house for days). Like I said, it all worked out. Yesterday evening, we were able to get our truck down the treacherous hill that is our only way out and park it in a neighbors driveway- which made for a chilly walk at 4 AM when I had to take Rick to work. With only one vehicle, I am still in charge of taking everyone back and forth. I tell you, nothing will wake you up like trudging up a snowy hillside at four in the morning. I haven’t even had my coffee yet.
It was a fun weekend, though.
Aside from the concerns about power, food, and travel, it was good to have a reason to stay home for once. I went outside and played with my children everyday. We cooked tasty things from scratch (did I mention that I got a beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas?), played board games, watched movies and football games, and generally lazed around to our hearts content. It was beautiful. I told Rick that, if we were more prepared (wood stove and lots of food), I could live like that for a long time.
Needless to say, not much homeschooling took place.
I saw all those homeschool moms post on Facebook about their children rushing to finish school before playing in the snow. Maybe I am just getting older (I like to think more experienced), but I am not stressed about that stuff anymore. In fact, I don’t think I ever really was SUPER stressed about homeschooling.
While my homeschooling experience hasn’t been perfect (after all, there are some things I wish I had done), there are some things I am glad I didn’t we didn’t do, like…
That’s number one. I am glad I didn’t go nuts worrying about whether or not I would be a good enough teacher. Don’t get me wrong. That first year, I was concerned that I might not be able to do as good of a job as schools they had attended (public or private), but I was so frustrated with certain issues, I figured that it was worth a shot. Rick calmed my fears by telling me that, if things didn’t go well, we would just put them back in. It was helpful to me to know that I wasn’t really going to do them life-long damage by spending a year attempting to school them. Of course, that year was awesome, so we kept going with the full knowledge that, at any time, I could out them back in the school system if I got overwhelmed. (Side note– Wasn’t that the point of the public school system to begin with- to provide an education to those children whose parents could not provide one for them? It’s gotten turned around to where folks think all children should go to public school and parents should provide an alternate education only if they have to do so.) Anyway, having a back up plan kept me from going overboard in my stress. I am also glad I didn’t…
Try to Make My Children Super Scholars
When I was the leader of my county homeschool organization, I got calls from frantic parents all the time. I actually miss this aspect of being in leadership because I love to encourage homeschool moms. Most often, moms would call me because they were concerned that their children weren’t keeping up, but their idea of “not keeping up” was inflated. They wanted their children to be super scholars. I have received many calls from moms who called me crying because they were, in essence, trying to do too much and had gotten overwhelmed. I don’t need the stress. My children don’t need the pressure, and frankly, I don’t think that kind of focus encourages a love of learning. I think Brian is a super scholar, but that is mostly because the Lord gave him some gifts, and we trained him to use them to the best of his ability. Nothing more. We also didn’t…
I have a cut off time. Once we reach that time, books go away, and we do no more school. I don’t care if the work is “done.” I don’t care if we only did three subjects. My number one concern for my children in their life is their health. That includes their physical, spiritual, and mental health, and it is not good for any of those things to be stuck in the house, staring into books, and studying for too long. We take breaks, we run, we have fun, we study some more, then the day is over at cut-off. One phone call I would get ALL THE TIME was from parents who were homeschooling into the night trying to complete every part of the curriculum. While I do wish I had not skipped parts of the curriculum, I would never recommend going on too long in one day. I wanted my children to love learning and to know how to learn. They didn’t need pressure or stress. We simply stopped where we were if they day got away from us and continued the next day. It was fluid. I din’t stick to a strict daily schedule. I used the lesson plans in the curriculum as my guide, and we went through they day by day, in order until the end of the year. On that note, I am glad I didn’t…
Do Much More that 180 Days of School Per Year
180 days. That’s a standard school year. We always get 180 days in, but I almost never do too much more. Just like we need a break at the end of the day, my children need s break at the end of the year. They need unstructured time to explore their interests and just have fun! We all need to breathe. I get this phone call every year (still do). Parents will call and say that it is almost July, and they are only on lesson 120 (out of 180). Then, they ask me if it is OK to stop for the year. I ask them if their child did a full school year’s worth of work. Did they put in 180 days? If so, I say close the book. School systems almost never finish a book. I know we never did in my school days. So, why get upset if you don’t finish? Did you put in your time? If the answer is yes, then you are done. This means we often didn’t…
Do Every Lesson in the Curriculum
One year, Briana only got to something like lesson 48 in Math. (Even I felt a little bad about that one.) The thing was, that was the year she began doing multiplication and division. When she wasn’t getting it, I didn’t move forward in the curriculum. I printed practice pages from online. We spent days doing flash card competitions. Finally, she memorized them with songs she found on Youtube. Then, we moved on to higher multiplication and division. She didn’t get it right away, so we paused the curriculum again. I found more practice pages to print. Rather than continuing the curriculum when she didn’t understand the material, we took the time to gain mastery and understanding. The next year, we went on to the next level, and guess what? She was able to keep up. That extra time we spent grounded her so that she was able to move on to more complicated things (like fractions) more easily. We didn’t tie ourselves to the curriculum. We used it as a guide in our journey to train our children. Sometimes, when it made sense, we took a shortcut. Sometimes, we took the long way. Either way, we made it to the right destination. We didn’t feel the need to…
Try To Get Our Children to Learn Everything
My opinion has always been that my children need only a basic knowledge of most subjects. I don’t care if they have not memorized dates of battles in every war. I haven’t, and it doesn’t matter to me one bit. I simply want them to know how our country came to be, and what makes history relevant today. They did not need to know every scientific breakthrough. However, we do know the three laws of thermodynamics, and how they relate to Biblical truth. None of our children learned Calculus or Physics in homeschool. We only go as far as Geometry, and while we study Chemistry, it is only a cursory look at the subject. No AP level here. Yet, when Brian went to college, he was named Chemistry and Biochemistry Student of the Year (and his major is Business!). This was because he knew how to study, and he had learned to pursue in depth study on his own when he was interested. When he encountered Chemistry in college, he enjoyed it. This led him to study the subject diligently, and it paid off. We work to make sure our children have a thorough, basic education and are prepared to study something they love in depth. Each of our children have areas where they excel and areas where they struggle. We focus on where they excel and all the rest is minimal. Finally, we are glad we didn’t…
We didn’t give up. At least, we haven’t yet 🙂 Homeschooling is hard. H.A.R.D. There were days we all wanted to quit, but we didn’t. We kept going with the knowledge that this is what the Lord called us to do, so I knew things would work out. They did. I think this is the key to success in just about anything.
It may sound like my approach to homeschooling is a bit laid back. It is, but it has also been successful in the ways the world considers them to be successful. Lord willing, Brian will have a Bachelor’s degree this year (his 19th birthday is coming up soon), and Ricky should have his associate’s degree at 17. Both boys will continue to higher education. They both work, and each has been faithful as employees at their first jobs. Brian owns a vehicle and is saving to buy a house with cash. Ricky is saving for his first car. Briana, meanwhile, is working behind the scenes to create an empire and go far beyond either of the boys. More than that, they are successful in what is important. They are kind and respectful. They love the Lord, and all of my children have been encouraged to listen for their Lord’s leading in their future ministry. What more can a parent teach their child?
I am so glad I did not waste my time and energy, or my children’s time and energy, on things that did not matter.
Thanks for listening to my homeschool reflections. I hope they were encouraging to you.
Are there things you are glad you didn’t do in your homeschool? Share them in the comments section below where we can encourage one another. Also, let me know if you have any homeschool questions. I would love to answer them!