As far as their education goes, I am it.
Sure, my children will have music teachers, and tae kwon do masters, and other wonderful adults in their lives as the years go by. I am so thankful for those people who choose to pour themselves into the kids in their care and make an impact on their lives. My children will have memories and mentors outside of our family to look back on and treasure because of the gift of these adults in their lives.
But when it comes to academics and the “grand scheme of things”, it is primarily my responsibility to orchestrate all the details, teach all the grammar, and correct all of the work (not to mention find SPACE for it all!).
It is one HUGE job.
And even though it is a job of never-ending details for the homeschooling mom or dad, there is a lie that we fall into so easily as we take on this journey. Here it is:
We have to teach them everything. Right now. This year. And they can’t forget a bit of it or we will go down in history as a homeschooling failure.
I am a reader. I got all the books needed to start homeschooling. The ones that tell us what our child should know when, and how we should assess their knowledge, and which curriculum is the best for which grade level. Of course, they often contradicted each other, but I gleaned from them what I thought I needed to know, and consequently began to plan for our year. I also got out my Ohio requirements notification form and, along with the notes from my other research, began jotting down subjects:
- Ohio History
- Foreign language
- Fire Safety
- Physical Education
I have come to see that the skills of reading, writing and solid math computation are the main ones we must nurture in the elementary and middle years of schooling. I have yet to reach high school with my brood, and I realize the value of a rigorous academic plan once those years arrive and my children are focusing on the areas they wish to pursue in life and career. But I see now that the twelve years we have together produce layers in learning that eventually create a thick quilt of knowledge and love for learning and life that will cover a multitude of facts not known.
So to end this post, I’ll leave you with some practical ways to “relax” as you lay a foundation of life and learning in your home:
- Use writing only in writing work. When your children are young and struggling with forming letters, do spelling verbally instead or by tracing in sand or salt on a cookie sheet. Use scrabble letters, play word games in the car. You may find (as we did) that you don’t need a formal spelling curriculum at all.
- Skip a subject for a semester or even a year. Last year, after doing a rotation of US Geography and World Geography twice, I scrapped formal geography altogether. We read lots of books and talked about the places within them, still looked them up on a map, but we didn’t do anything more strenuous that that. We’ve now all come back to geography with a renewed spirit.
- Only do a few math problems a day. You, as the homeschool mom or dad, know what your child knows and what he doesn’t. If he knows, skip it! Sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly hard to do when all of those 25 problems beckon from the page.
- Live the subject instead of teaching it. Do you really need to print out dozens of worksheets for health? Or can you just include the kids in meal planning and grocery shopping and discuss healthy eating in organic ways (get it? ”Organic”. I crack myself up)? Of course, you may have one who loves worksheets like I do, but again, don’t do it simply to feed the “ought to” monster.
- Just play games. This is probably one of my favorite ways of relaxing as a homeschooler. We have dozens and dozens of games. Some teach logic, some teach math facts, some teach spelling, some teach money, all teach manners and social skills. We play games a lot in our learning and it makes our school fun and painless. Rainbow Resource has a ton of educational and fun games to choose from.
Do you find that you get caught up in the feelings of overwhelm and that they affect your joy in homeschooling?
Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.