So as the second month of our first homeschooling year comes to an end (tomorrow, which is a very special day in our house for several reasons: Assumption, Paul's Birthday and Christian's Birthday) I thought I'd write a post about these first eight weeks and how things have gone so far.
And I was like... "Um... Okay... So... Let me explain..." Except every explanation just sounded like I was rambling or annoyed and so I decided to put that post off indefinitely and it's still festering somewhere back in the draft bin. But maybe a little bit of that post will be in this post, because the reason we began homeschooling back in June has to do with all of that.
Why not? I thought. Let's jump in with both feet. All our school supplies had already arrived.
"Let her play!" I have also heard. And we do. She plays all day long. But she also asks questions and brings me books and wants to learn. She's excited about school.
I'm not exactly sure when playing and school became mutually exclusive. It's not as if the child is chained to the dining room table all day. And I have to say, she'd be very unhappy if my response to "let's do school" was "Oh I'm sorry sweetie. There's people all the internet who say that you shouldn't do any sort of formal education until you're seven, lest we damage your sweet little creative mind. Put that book away and go back to playing."
But it's worse than that. You see now I have Maggie, little whirlwind Maggie, sitting at the table next to Sadie for entire lessons. Two days ago the poor little three year old actually collapsed sobbing at the table over a worksheet (just wait for the explanation though).
Sadie thinks they're fun... but Maggie... Maggie loves them. And those tears I mentioned above. They were because she doesn't have a Singapore Math workbook (and she has two years to wait for hers because those things aren't so cheap I'm giving her one to color in) and she just couldn't believe it and she wanted Sadie's so badly that the crying started... until I pointed out her really neat coloring sheet and she grudgingly went back to it, but not without trying to steal the Singapore Math book a few more times before the day was over.
On the other subjects we mix things up day to day. Some days she'll wake up talking about the planets. Her favorite joke right now, which she greeted me with this morning was "Hey Mommy! Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune..." (a pause for effect and then...) "Pluto!" followed by hysterical giggle because she obsessed with the fact that Pluto "was a planet" when I was little but is "only a dwarf planet" now. Other days it's volcanos or jellyfish or my rock collection which my dad packaged up and sent to us a few weeks ago. Sometimes we watch documentaries and sometimes we pull out one of the science books we have and stare and the pictures and talk about what they say.
In addition to that we snuggle on the couch and read a lot. We've made it through the Little House on the Prairie books and have been reading the "Rose" books (we're on the third one now) together. It's not uncommon that I have three babies on my lap during reading time, so turning the page can be a challenge, but it's also pretty awesome seeing Maggie listen to a story that is that long!
And that's what we've been doing, along with playing outside and being the only swimmers at a very cold lake yesterday (where the lifeguard trudged out in a parka to watch us).
As I've gone through these months, and have thought over all the advice I've been given, I've begun to believe more and more that knowing your child is the most important thing when figuring out your strategy for homeschooling. Many of us are homeschooling because we believe that we know our children best and we hope that we'll be able to offer them the best education possible with that knowledge. It's not one size fits all. So it might not be the best idea to tell someone with a child you've never met how to homeschool their child (or that they're ruining their child's creativity, or something like that, with all those books they keep reading to them). I think that most parents are making the best education choices they can and while I understand the enthusiasm I have to say that the "this is the only way" notes I've encountered are probably not the best way to encourage fellow homeschoolers.
Still, I have to say, that so far (and maybe it's because we're in the honeymoon phase, or maybe doing school when it's nice outside is actually just a really good fit for us) this has been really fun. We've had our crazy days (which were crazy because a certain brother and sister were in fine form) but for the most part I'm enjoying doing this more than I ever expected to (and I was looking forward to it!). Now on to month number three!