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Monday, August 18, 2008

2008 Class Photo for our Homeschool Academy



Is it just me or has the summer flown by this year?

I'm probably one of the very few moms you'll hear say that I'm just not ready for school to start. This is the first year out of five that I've homeschooled my kids that I am having doubts as to whether or not I can do it. I have actually lost some sleep over it the last few days as the date of Sept 1st draws nearer.

One of the bittersweet things about being a homeschooling family is that I don't get to experience the same emotions as other moms when it comes time for the kids to start back to school. In some ways, I am almost jealous of these women who will soon have more free time during the day while I will still have my kids at home with me, attempting to do even more than I've been doing this summer. Having a schedule should help, but I'm still wondering how I'm going to do it all, especially having a third separate grade to teach this year.

Abby is starting Kindergarten. I've lamented all summer over the fact that I'll not have a sweet story to tell my friends about how I dropped her off on her first day and promptly cried my eyes out because she was just fine when I left. Nor will I get to hear her tell any stories about her classmates and teachers and how they all sat in a circle and sang Kumbaya. Oh, I kid. Sort of. She's the baby, my last. I'd sort of like to have that memory...does that make me a homeschool traitor? We'll be using Abeka Kindergarten curriculum because I honestly think their phonics program is the best of all I've seen. I will probably pick and choose through her daily subjects, because there's really no need for her to be "in class" for six hours a day - we'll more than likely pare it down to just two hours daily.

AJ is a first grader this year. He flew through Kindergarten with flying colors. The thing I worry most about him this year is being able to teach both him and his baby sister simultaneously. Anyone ever done that? I must admit, I'm a tad bit concerned about my ability in that area. I want each of my kids to come away from school every day feeling a little bit better about themselves and their abilities. He is quite the energetic/rambunctious/raucous that I stay worried I won't be able to keep him occupied while I'm teaching his little sister. We are also going to be using the Abeka program for him this year - again with the phonics - he's still learning to read and after this year, he'll have a solid foundation. This year I'm focusing on teaching him to write in something other than capital letters.

Katie. She is the old pro at homeschooling. This is her fifth year and she will approach it pretty much the same as she has every year for the last four. With an eager and willing attitude and showing much grace to her mother for not being the "perfect homeschool mom". I have myself a middle schooler this year and it's not lost on me. We are using Landmark Freedom Baptist curriculum with her. She has used this curriculum for the last three year and loves it. English, Math, History, Geography, Science and Literature. We'll try to sprinkle in some craft time somewhere - and yes, there will be some experiments.

So what was the point of this post? I just needed to share my angst with someone.

If you homeschool, there is an unspoken pressure to be a "perfect" homeschool family with the best-behaved and smartest kids on the block. People expect your kids to know three languages and have the ability to work college-level calculus problems before they leave Kindergarten. You must have daily crafts, weekly science experiments, and monthly field trips.

The beautiful side of homeschooling (yes, there really is one) is that I get to have my three beautiful kids at home with me. I love learning alongside them and finding out what makes the world go round. I love seeing the light bulbs switch on when they finally “get” something they’ve been struggling with, and I absolutely adore watching the creative juices flow while they are working on a project. Most of all, I just love spending time with three of the smartest, funniest, most insightful, and most curious kids I know.

Maybe this year won't be so bad, after all. I just needed a reminder of why I do this. Now all we need is a name for our homeschool academy. What should it be? Any thoughts?

Oh, and if you're a homeschooling family, or you have ever homeschooled, I'd love to hear your thoughts as to how you taught more than one grade at a time.

If you're not a homeschooling family, I'd like to hear from you - what is your first reaction when you hear someone is homeschooled? Do you expect them to be smarter? Artsier? Better behaved?


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23 comments:

chickadee said...

it's a challenge and it takes more time, i'm a lazy homeschooler. but it can be done. i combine everything i can like science and art and geograpy and history so they do those things together.

Heather @ Desperately Seeking Sanity said...

I admire women who do it. I can't. Ever. I don't have the patience. I don't have the knack for it. I'm just not one of those moms. (I think they should revoke my PTA card too.)

I think that you CAN do it. I don't think, I KNOW that you can do it.

Because you'll have me here to kick you in the rump or to vent to if you need it. Just don't ask me about Math.

Shara said...

I have such respect for any mom that attempts to home school their kids. I swore I would never, ever do that, and yet here I am in year #4.

I love getting to spend time with my boys while they are at home. Though protecting them from the world is not my goal, I am thankful that they won't have to deal with some of the stuff out there. I like letting my (autistic) son sleep in, since he doesn't always sleep a good 8-10 hours like I would like. There are many, many reasons why I love doing what I get to do.

Your kids are so blessed to have a mom who loves them so much and wants the best for them-- who actually enjoys having them around. I believe it's going to be an awesome year for y'all!

grammy said...

OK, Here's a crazy comment. Hope you will not be annoyed. Make sure you get them in some outside activites with other kids. I just say this because I have had some home school friends and relatives. There are the moms that let their kids sleep late and have no real schedule. Then there are those that have 10 kids. Everything runs like clock work and they have a family singing group that travels around the country. I am sure you will do great. Our area has a lot of homeschool groups. Some have worked out special P.E. so that groups can meet together with others and play group games etc. Since your son will be with three 'women' make sure he gets to play with boys. It sounds silly, but it really is important. By the way, I admire you.

grammy said...

Yikes! See, I already put my foot in my mouth. There are definietly some very good reasons for letting your child sleep in. The mom I was thinking about just didn't want to get up herself.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Great post! My son goes to a Christian school that we love, but if that wasn't financially possible, then I would homeschool. I have lots of friends that homeschool and most really enjoy it.

I think you'll do great! It will just take a while to get used to doing all of them together, but the great thing is that you have the flexibility to make adjustments as you go.

Since I know lots of homeschoolers, I don't have any extra expectations, but before I did - I kind of expected them to be very smart and fabulous spellers! :)

Summer said...

My sis-in-law homeschools her kids (she has 6) and for the first time, she's sending two of her children to public highschool. But I'm sure she has some good, Chrisitan sound advice. She's at www.atahenspace.blogspot.com Check her out!

Monkey Giggles said...

I am entering my 10th year of homeschooling and I am still learning myself. Maybe by the time my youngest is in 12th grade I will have it mastered. Each year we fine tune things. Throw out what does not work and do more of what does work. I use a Weaver Unit study plus abeka (government,spelling and language) and saxon Math. Our three are very active in and out of the church. I believe it is all about balance.

You have the right attitude. Will be in prayer for you and your school year.

Mel @ A Box of Chocolates said...

I was homeschooled 2nd grade on and I think I turned out alright. My mom also homeschooled my younger brother at the same time and he kept her quite busy. I have to say that I'm a pretty self motivated person so much of the time I felt as if I was teachng myself from the text book. You seem like such a got it together person though so you will be fine. Just remember your priorities and go from there. I love your idea of only a 2hr day for your Kinderartener. I never had more than 4 hours of school work because if you think about it, you don't have the other kids interupting, the transition times, lunch, expressive arts, etc...and that saves a lot of time. Have fun!!

Marilyn - A Mixed Bouquet said...

You'll do great and just think of the memories you'll have with them!

My now 19 year old went to K at a Christian school and I still have guilt over the crying. Sigh,...with my special needs son in the hospital, well, I think he just needed me. We're starting our 14th year and none of us has regrets. I only have my special needs son, 16, at home and it's mostly life skills now. My older son wants his own children to be homeschooled...when he has them.

After going through the school system with the older three, I thought it was calming to homeschool. Instead of getting on the bus at 7:30, my son was still sleeping and I was having my coffee. That's the beauty of homeschooling. We aren't morning people and our schedule began at 9AM; except for the farm stuff.

BTW, he's in college and adjusted w/o any problems. He's more out-going than his older sisters. Poor unsocialized boy...LOL!

Hang in there!

Kari said...

We have never homeschooled, but, I have such respect for those who do. I'm ashamed to say that I just don't think I would have the patience or determination to attempt it. We have some homeschooled kids who take piano lessons with my daughter, and they are among the most polite and respectful children I've ever met. Good luck with your school year, I'm sure it will be great!

dianne - bunny trails said...

The best advice I can give is to be on your knees. While in and of myself, I could never homeschool, in God's strength I can do whatever He calls me to. We're starting our 4th year of HS and it's all to His glory, because I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, undisciplined, and selfish kind of gal much of the time. (Personally, I think this is just one mechanism God is using to refine me in those areas!)

blessings,
Dianne :D

PastorMac's Ann said...

We do homeschool (we have seven children and 5 of them are school aged) and I can totally relate to your feelings.

You'll do just fine Karen. Just take on day at a time and remember that your kids are doing school even when they aren't sitting at a desk. One of the beauties of homeschool is your home truly is the classroom - all of it. And the above advice - about doing it in God's strength is GREAT advice. Couldn't be more true.

And when the days are tough, keep reminding yourself the big reasons that you've chosen to homeschool.

Sept. 1st - the adventure begins.

OhLookADuck said...

Teaching multiple ages can be a challenge, but using unit studies or lapbooks is one way they can each do something at their maturity level while learning together. I've been homeschooling my six (as they came along) and we are starting our 23rd year. We mostly homeschool all year and we tend to focus on one or two subjects at a time and really get into them, then go on to something else. It can get overwhelming to try and do a little of everything every day--it's like you just get interested and suddenly it's time to change gears, but that's just what works for us.

This year I am going to try working more individually with each of my remaining four children. One will be doing Rosetta Stone French on one computer, one will be doing Mavis Beacon typing on another, one will have the math DVD (Math U See) going and I'll work with the last one individually on whatever they want or need and then we'll switch. We do have some things we do together (Bible, read alouds, science, history, art, etc. but like I said, we just pick one or two subjects at a time) but I have a 15 year old son who likes to work alone and an 11 year old son with Down Syndrome who needs lots of my time so we don't do everything together right now.

It's wonderful to do like you did--think through why you are doing what you are doing. It seems to put things in perspective and takes away some of the stress. And really, loving our children and developing relationships with them and showing them the love of God--that's the important stuff. Learning happens best in that environment anyway. It's not about the books, but rather the heart.

Renae said...

I'm glad I never sent my kids to kindergarten, but I have fantasized about what I would do with all those hours without the kids. I think my house would actually be clean. :)

This is the first year I will have more than one child with formal lessons. Still not sure how it will work, but I combine as much as possible. Bug will do a little more; Sunshine will do a little less. It all works out in theory anyway. I'll keep you posted, but by then you will be an expert. ;)

Renae said...

Yeah! My comment didn't disappear. I think that's basically what I said the first time.

Sweet Serendipity said...

This will be our second year homeschooling and my oldest will be in 1st grade. I also have a 3 year old and a soon to be 1 year old. I share your worries about how I will manage this year. My oldest is very difficult to keep occupied. He's so active and hates book work. It is a challenge. My three year old is much easier, though I don't have any real curriculum planned, she loves worksheets, coloring, painting and will sit and look at books for quite a while. My baby is in the separation anxiety stage so I'm having to do most things one handed, lol! It will be an interesting year, but I will press on, like you, because I know my kids are better off at home and I love learning with them. Best of luck to you! Hang in there.

polkaspotfarm said...

Last night was my first homeschool Mom's Night Out! Almost everyone asked "What curriculum are you using?" I always stumble on that one because I changed my mind and using things that aren't as well known now. Today we went to an co-op class that went really well. Now if I could just get that boost of confidence that I really need.

Anonymous said...

Well I musst say, I think you're all really brave! I know I couldn't homeschool my own kids. I don't have any children of my own, but I do have 16 first graders all day long. My new grade level partner just came back to teaching after home schooling her children. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, however I think if your honest with yourself and your kids about their progress (since there isn't anyone on the "outside" to do that) then you'll stay on track. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Our DD is going to a Christian classical K4 this year for the first time and I am the one having first day jitters already. DH is a SAHD and has been doing "Daddy-school" with her informally for the past year. We still haven't decided what to do next. The school district we are in is one of the best in the country and we are in a very conservative neighborhood, but.... We shall see.

All the best as you start your new year!

texasknights said...

I know you do a GREAT job with schooling your kids. They are blessed to have a committed momma like you.
My baby is starting Kindergarten too! I am not handling it too well.

Amber (Bringing Good Home) said...

OK, so I just now got around to reading this. Seriously, I've had it open in a browser since the second you posted it. :P

First off - You can do it!

Secondly, our kids aren't that far apart, yours and mine. We've schooled for five years, but Princess did two years of Pre-K because she wanted to do crafts and I knew I needed the practice. So we started doing 30 minutes of alphabet crafts when she was three.

When my middle daughter was 3 she was bugging the tar out of my oldest and myself while I was trying to teach Princess how to add and subtract so I finally gave in and started giving her preschool books as well. SHE. IS. A. HANDFUL. Never sits still, jumps off of EVERYTHING. Very independent and at that time - often disobedient and stubborn. But as long as she "felt" like she was doing school she would sit and scribble for a bit and then run off happy. The next year (last year) I actually did start prek/kindergarten with her and it was a challenge paying attention to both of them but I made it through it.

This year, Princess begins 3rd grade, Drama Queen begins 1st grade and I have an about-to-be 3 year old son who is even more active than DQ was at that age. OY.

Last year it was a challenge to occupy him but then he got addicted to Blue's Clues so we began school when he went down for his (3 hour) afternoon nap and I popped in Blue's Clues when he woke up until we were finished. THANK YOU STEVE AND JOE.


People ask me what I am going to do with him this year - I HAVE NO CLUE. I may try the whole "here's a workbook honey, sit down and 'do' school" trick with him but honestly, I'd rather he just slept four hours a day - can't he do that?? *sigh* I still plan on utilizing nap time which is now down to about an hour and a half, two if I'm lucky, but I don't really have a plan aside from that. ACK!

However, Blue's Clues, Dora, and Super Why did a fabulous job of teaching my two year old his colors, numbers and letters so I'm seriously thinking about employing them as tutors for this year as well - is that awful or what? :P

Amber (Bringing Good Home) said...

Does that win some kind of "way too long for a comment" award? sorry! :)