"You are crazy"
"I don't see how you do what you do"
"I really admire you for taking on such a task"
"You have more patience than I do"
"How do you manage everything?"
These are just a few of the comments I get when people find out we homeschool. I find that people are really quite curious as to how it all works....it's funny to me I guess because it just flows naturally in our house....and I don't realize that to others looking in, it must look "hard"....well, I'd be lying if I said it was a breeze all the time...but I'd also be lying if I didn't tell you that it is one of my greatest joys in life.... In fact it brings me and my kids so much joy that it becomes very easy to look over my "moments"....I am human so yes, I have my selfish thoughts...I wish I could go hang out at the gym and drop 20 pounds...yes, I wish I had "me" time more often....yes, I have moments of just thinking "I can't do this anymore"...but I lay all of that at the feet of Jesus daily and I know in the depths of my heart that this is where I belong right now. This is what works and feels very "right" for our family. Next year??? Who knows....it is my desire to homeschool all the way through high school but every year we stop and evaluate it all through prayer....never wanting to miss out on what the Lord is telling us to do.
I try to make our day as relaxed as possible....never sweating the small stuff so much that we get attitudes or in bad moods because we are "behind" in something. (My whole philosophy for homeschooling was that my kids have a lifetime to learn but only one chance to have life skills and character developed...so we don't sweat the "gaps"...they can be found in the most expensive of educations. We use a literature based curriculum so we do a LOT of reading....that alone could almost be enough for me...to see my kids reading piles of books...and then to see them on their own free time want to read still??? Priceless I say! I firmly believe that if I feed my kids love of learning, they will want to learn for life...it will not be something to "check off" but a never-ending process!
With Tyler being 12, I am barely involved in his work...he knows what to get accomplished, and I am there to make sure it gets done...and to check his comprehension. I have seen this create self discipline and initiative in him. And when he is not working on something, he is the first to help Aidan with something. I don't have to tell you how precious those moments are to a mom...not to mention what it means for my boys.. if you are wondering why I didn't say that he helps Maggie...well, let's just say she doesn't embrace his help...what? you didn't really believe those lies about homeschoolers being perfect did you??? :-)
Most of my time is spent before lunch helping Maggie and Aidan with their individual subjects such as Math, Spelling, Writing, Reading, Phonics (Aidan) and Language (Maggie)....then we break for about an hour or so and I make lunch while they go upstairs and do chores...get dressed, make beds, empty dirty clothes, etc. While we eat, I always try to bring up a thought provoking subject.....yesterday it was why do some leaves die and others not....today it was Veterans Day.After lunch I sit and read History and Science to Maggie and Aidan...they are able to share curriculum since they are close in age. Then we are usually always done by 2. And typical day consists of 4 hours of schoolwork. Some days are more, some are less. Every Friday we do Science projects. I look at everything we do as a learning opportunity. Just today I taught Tyler to make a grilled cheese as I cooked lunch! I am quite certain he will survive as a bachelor one day...he knows how to cook Ramen noodles, frozen pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and now grilled cheese! :-) And in the past month I have taught him to do his own laundry....whoo hoo!!! That is one or two even less loads for me! As I am typing, he is baking chocolate chip cookies for Maggie and Aidan....hmmmm...part of me couldn't love him more....the other is thinking he may just be the devil himself! :-)
Probably my favorite part of school is our "Read Aloud" time....everyday I read some to Maggie and Aidan together (and Tyler even sits in sometimes) and then usually at bedtime I read Tylers to him....or vice-versa...all depending on the day. We have gotten so caught up in some of these stories that I have found myself sneaking to read ahead to find out what happens next! And this is also a time that Adam can read with them after not being home during the day.
We do tons of field trips...we are visiting the local newspaper tomorrow. Each kid is able to pursue their passion....Tyler was drumming in his youth band at age 11! I firmly believe it has a lot to do with the amount of time he has had at home to practice. And now they are all three loving and thriving in karate...with no homework to worry with at night, it is not too overwhelming for us...
I know some of my friends that have much tighter schedules they keep....I know some that barely have one at all....I think I fall somewhere in between....I do keep a schedule, I am just not bound to it. With three kids I have to have some sort of template as to how our day will look....but if curiosity lends itself to get outside looking at "dry flies"...or looking up a certain missionary we just read about further....then I say schedule schmedule!