Monday, May 16, 2016

Falling in Love with Homeschooling!

A year of kindergarten.
This stack of papers might not seem that momentous to you, but to me, it is a year of kindergarten accomplished! A year of perseverance, day by day, preparing lessons, sitting down with my kindergartner, keeping the younger kids occupied, and teaching home school.

I went to public school and then a Christian college, but I never had much experience personally with home schooling until I became a parent. My husband, who also went to public school, was the one to really encourage me to try home schooling and stick with it. He saw the value in it, and even though I did too, he was my main motivator to keep me going in the beginning.

As we began, I tended to look at the overwhelming big picture of preschool through high school home schooling and definitely sensed how big of a commitment that was. And it is a huge commitment! But, as I've gone, I've realized the take it day by day, moment-by-moment, approach helps keep me sane. That stack of papers proves it. We have made much progress since last August! And one day we'll cross the finish line of graduation.

School in our pajamas!
I've also realized how much I've fallen in love with homeschooling as I've continued in it. This is my third year teaching my daughter, with two years of preschool before, and this our kindergarten year. We've accomplished reading! A significant achievement and confidence builder for myself as a first time kindergarten teacher and for my little girl who is very smart, but reading hasn't come easily or naturally. I was the same way, struggling in reading early on, and then majoring in English. So we keep persevering and it is starting to snowball. I've also treasured how special it is to know that I've been the main teacher in my child's life, from the very beginning with "this is the letter A."

At Denver City Park on a field trip.
We've enjoyed discovering more about our daughter this year. She is a dancer! We realized this after putting her in a free church musical program, where she ended up knowing every dance move and not missing a beat. She loves the arts and I'm so glad I can foster our schooling towards her strengths. We may try a Christian dance group this upcoming year. She does weekly gymnastics and now practically cart wheels around the house instead of walking. We've seen her greatly improve in her form and abilities. She has had the opportunity to take a weekly art class at a local Christian school and has loved learning more about different types of art. She's also done great in weekly AWANA, memorizing Bible verses with friends.

At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science!
What I love about homeschooling:

  • Not running around. Probably one of the biggest perks in my mind. I hate to be busy and I'm not a morning person. We wake up slowly, enjoy the morning as a family, and I don't have to hustle and bustle the kids around. 
  • More focused teaching, more time to play. Our one-on-one homeschooling allows us to accomplish more focused teaching, more learning in a shorter period of time, and a lot more time to go outside and play
    Playing outside on a beautiful day!
  • Flexibility. I love the flexibility in our schooling hours. I can work around other events or ministries, coffee with friends, nice weather, etc. We can do school in the mornings on colder days, allowing the kids to be outside when it's warmest, or do school in the afternoons on the warmer days, allowing the kids to be outside when it's not unbearably hot. 
  • Bible. We teach Bible in our home school. It is prioritized on a daily basis right up there with English and Math. I value that we can have the freedom to study our faith and learn the Bible together as a family. The kids also do weekly AWANA, and this allows us plenty of time to memorize our weekly verses.
  • More opportunities as they grow. I know several high school home schoolers who can take advantage of opportunities that their peers can't because of their more flexible schooling schedules. They can take babysitting jobs during the day and get their school work done in the evening, or volunteer in a field that interests them while their peers are in the confines of a classroom.
  • A personalized approach. As parents, we know our children best. Each child is different and learns in a unique way. Homeschooling allows a parent to teach their children the way they best succeed. And besides, parents are the biggest fans of their children, with an affinity and care that flows naturally into the homeschooling classroom.
  • Community with other homeschooling families. I'm very thankful to have a supportive group of fellow homeschooling moms that I can go through this journey with. We have a wonderful time on field trips together and just having coffee together sometimes while our kids play.
    Day in the mountains with good friends and a fellow homeschooling family!

  • A frugal option. I thought I should mention this since my blog is about living frugally. We do home school on the cheap! Last year, I spent maybe $50 on home school supplies. There is so much available these days on the Internet and I have been creating my own curriculum. Even with buying a curriculum, homeschooling is an affordable option besides public schooling.  

We are already gearing up for an abundant year of home school next year. I'll have two children to teach, a full time first grader and a four year old who will start official home school preschool. As with this year, I'm planning on pulling together my own curriculum using various resources online. I'm taking the rest of May and June off, and will start in July, trying a "year-round" model of homeschooling with more frequent, but shorter breaks. I've enjoyed trying new ways of doing homeschooling, too, throughout the past few years, to figure out what works best for us.

My classroom of three.
Through it all, homeschooling has certainly grown on me! In fact, now I love it! I know homeschooling doesn't work for every family, but I've realized more and more that it works wonderfully for us. The days aren't usually glamorous. Sometimes I don't even leave the house, and it's still somehow a mess. But I've realized that I have a heart for teaching, that I grew up around teachers and have a degree in education, and I'm so grateful that I can use that passion and gift with my precious children at home.

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