Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Revealed Home School Life

I never ever wanted to home school my kids. I've wanted them out of the house and in public school for a long time. This was the year I was going to have three in school/two at home. And then home school happened.

And let me tell you.

I love it.

Yes, it began because my kids' teachers were awful. It was a "last resort" kind of response to sub-par education, but it became more. As I was preparing and thinking about home school I wanted to talk to other parents who were thinking about home schooling, planning on doing it, or already in the groove. Luckily, I know enough home schooling families here that I feel I'm well supported. It's nice knowing people who also know that home schooling isn't as weird as we all thought it would be and who know that I'm teaching my kids and not using the excuse of home schooling to be lazy. Trust me, there's nothing lazy about home school. Well, I do sleep in later than I did before. But why in the world would I get up at 6:15AM if I don't need to shove my kids out for a bus at 7:30 anymore? Right?

One of these fabulous people I talked to has kids around my kids' ages. And get this, HE'S been home schooling HIS kids for a while now. His wife actually works with Nathan and he stays home with the kids and teaches them. His kids are way smart by the way.

I asked him why he decided to home school. His reply? "I felt I wouldn't get enough time with my kids if I sent them off to school."


That was the exact opposite of how I felt. I was pretty sure we all needed a break from each other, because we drive each other nuts. Plus, I wanted to write my books and sew aprons and clothes and quilts without interruption. Yep, there it is. I wanted some time for myself. With 5 kids there isn't much time to go around. Add to it a church responsibility that is like a full-time job and I'm amazed I have time to breathe, really.

"I felt I wouldn't get enough time with my kids if I sent them off to school."

Wow. I felt awful.

He continued, "There are so many things I want to teach them that I think are important and I thought if I sent them off to school I'd only have them for an hour or so in the morning and then a few hours after school and then it's bedtime. When would I teach them those things that I think are important?"

I began to change my perspective. Home schooling became more at that point. Yes, the awful teachers are a big factor in our decision and the main reason why Nathan agreed to home schooling. No, I don't spend my days constantly teaching my kids the big life lessons, at least not intentionally. But every day I know my kids are learning something, are realizing they can do something they didn't think was possible, are grasping concepts that were out of their reach the day before, and they're doing these things TOGETHER. And I get to see it happen. How awesome is that?!

Our home school days are infinitely better than our lazy summer days. We begin the day with a song, usually from the children's hymn book our church uses, but sometimes the kids ask for a "grown-up" hymn. Then prayer, the pledge of allegiance, the Oklahoma pledge, and scripture study are next. We just finished reading the kid's Book of Mormon, the one with pictures and descriptions underneath. They loved taking turns reading it to each other. Then we move on to other school stuff. Usually since I have them all together after scripture study we do one of the subjects that we can do together like history or science. Then we separate. I'll work with one or two kids depending on what we need to do. I might do math with Megan and Jeremy together while Emma listens to a book on CD or practices her writing. Then I'll switch and do math with Emma while Megan and Jeremy finish their math work that doesn't require me being right with them. Then I'll have Megan listen to Emma read while I do writing and grammar with Jeremy. We go like this, switching around until snack/lunch time. Usually after we eat the kids like to get back together and I read to them. Right now we are reading A Series of Unfortunate Events. We just finished The Wide Window and tomorrow we'll start The Miserable Mill. I'm excited because now Jeremy and Emma have no idea what to expect since the movie only covered the first three books. Nathan and I took turns reading the books to Megan a few years ago, so she remembers some of what happens. Then we do P.E. For this we try to be creative. They can ride their bikes, do archery, or take turns calling out random exercises and a number while music blasts from Pandora. The random exercise days are my favorite because it's so cute watching Emma try to do push ups while Jeremy totally rocks them. Plus, it's fun watching Lincoln try to do any of what they do :)  If they have been really good all day, they might get to do a special P.E. like Just Dance on the Wii or something I love which I stole from Pinterest (thank you, Pinterest!). Have you seen those workouts geared for Harry Potter movies? For example, every time Hagrid says, "I shouldn'ta said that," the kids have to do 20 jumping jacks. Every time someone does a spell, they have to run in place for 30 seconds. And on and on and on. My kids love it because they rarely get screen time. I love it because I can just write the exercises on the white board and go make dinner. They don't simply zone out while watching the movie, at least not for the first hour or so. After a while when they're worn out I let them sit and watch the movie without all the exercises, but we usually have a die hard who will try to make it all the way to the end doing each of the exercises.

The awesome part of all this? We start school 45 minutes later than the public school and end 45 minutes sooner (most days).

I'll write more later about what textbooks we're using. I wanted to include it here, but this is already pretty long. I just wanted to give an update here for those who were wondering what our home school days have been like. I know some of you who know me well wondered if I could really do it. I don't blame you, I wondered, too.