Homeschooling is more than just teaching school at home. Even after 17 years teaching public high school, I had so much to learn this first year of homeschooling.
Last summer, we decided homeschooling was our best option and love the flexibility for scheduling and curriculum choices, and the joy of learning together. Homeschooling has brought our family much closer.
I knew homeschooling would be educational – I didn’t realize all I would learn as the teacher.
1. The most important lessons aren’t always in the curriculum.
I learned that teaching one child I love is very different from teaching a beloved subject to 100 children. Structuring lessons around her meals, moods, and skills, I’ve gained a new appreciation for how many factors affect learning.I knew homeschooling would be educational - I didn't know all I would learn, as the teacher. Click To Tweet
She had to learn about school. We had to address everything from paying attention to holding pencils to following directions.
When I focused on the goal of raising a learner, not just the math or reading concept, I was able see skills as building a foundation for her future.
To start, I had to teach her to fail.
When something wasn’t immediately clear, she would freeze and melt down rather than make a mistake.
I had to teach her it’s okay to fail:
- mistakes are how we learn
- doing your best doesn’t mean perfection
- not having all the answers is a permanent condition (unfortunately)
Then I had to teach her how to learn.
More than reading or math, I had to teach her how to tackle problems.
For example, my kid can skim through books using context clues and often guess unfamiliar words, but sounding out words is her kryptonite.
If you’ve ever sat with a six year old repeating, “sound it out; sound . . . it . . . out; make the sounds with your mouth . . .” Welcome to my world.
Instead of losing my mind, I began calling her a “Word Detective” and showing her all the tricks of word detection, like the silent E that gives magic to any vowel within one consonant of its maniacal reach. . . mwahaha, and makes it say its name, but if two consonants stand in the way, they block the magic from changing that vowel sound!
Somehow, being a detective transformed her desire to problem solve. Eventually, I heard her using those terms in her self-talk. She was able to slow down and work it out.
2. Character education was our most important subject.
Building a foundation for the rest of her education means teaching her character and citizenship: diligence, perseverance, and the fruit of the Spirit.
We practiced doing our best, not racing to finish. Page protectors let us do an activity several times with dry erase markers.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We practiced how we show kindness and respect despite rough emotions and difficult days. And we LIVED the lessons from our daily devotions and scripture reading, which taught us both about being more Christlike.
3. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be AT home.
We could use the world to learn. Reading lessons could be a menu or nutritional label for informational text.
We learned by going to museums, zoos, aquariums, and historical sites. Going fishing could be science class as she watched the clouds or the water, poked at bugs, or noticed the different characteristics of fish.
A trip was geography come to life. This spring she traveled to or through Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, and California.
Phew! No wonder I’m tired.
4. Homeschooling doesn’t have to look like school.
Almost anything can be school.
When I voted, I explained the basic principles of U.S. government. Going to the doctor and dentist, we learned about community helpers.
We could study nutrition at the grocery store, use math to calculate the cost of something, fractions cutting her sandwich, or division to share the last of the cookies.
Spending a week at my father’s nursing home, she learned to care for people of all ages, to ignore their infirmities and just see people to love and befriend.
5. Balance is the key.
The beauty of homeschool is the freedom, but we both need some structure to function in the world. Teaching her to follow a schedule was balanced by lazy mornings snuggling and discussing her dream from last night.
A field trip day was balanced by using books and worksheets to reinforce what she learned.
Being together was balanced by teaching her to complete a task alone before we’d review it, building her attention span and confidence minute by minute.
6. Homeschooling is a job.
I had to learn to approach it with professionalism or we’d end up procrastinating and getting side-tracked.
Half my day is cooking and cleaning, so I have to be a master multi-tasker, and accept some things just don’t get done. I have to dedicate several hours per day to school.
7. I learned that sometimes things that seem obvious to me are totally foreign concepts.
My poor girl was grumbling over a math worksheet last fall, skills she had been doing for months, so I didn’t understand what was wrong, only to realize she had never seen a numbered worksheet before.
She was trying to add in the number of the problem, reading –
- 2+3 = as 1 + 2 + 3 and once she got past adding to ten, she was so frustrated.
Poor girl. Sometimes, even us seasoned teacher mommies forget how to start from the beginning.
From that lesson, I learned to ask more questions about what is happening in her head and the importance of clear communication from us both.
8. Lastly, I learned I LOVE homeschooling!
We get to explore our world together, making memories everyday, and building a relationship closer than most parents will ever have. Her father and I get to share our different gifts and skills with her. We have just had the most fun learning how to do this together and can’t wait to see what next year brings.
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